After another strong performance by Case Keenum against the Los Angeles Rams, it’s time for Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer to give him his full-fledged support.
Case Keenum turned in his most impressive performance of the year in a win over the NFC West-leading Los Angeles Rams last Sunday. Sure, it didn’t compare statistically to his 300-plus yard games against the Washington Redskins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That being said, throwing for 280 yards, a touchdown, and no picks is a fantastic stat line against arguably the best defense the Minnesota Vikings have faced to date.
If it weren’t for a couple missed field goals by Kai Forbath, Keenum would have led Minnesota to 30 points, although 24 was plenty to get the W. The Vikings defense played out of their mind against the top-scoring offense, holding them to one touchdown on the game’s first drive. After that, the defense shut down the Rams offense, while Keenum delivered on the offensive end.
In nine games, the quarterback has stepped in for injured starter Sam Bradford and thrown for 2,194 yards and 12 touchdowns with only five interceptions. As a result, the Vikings are 8-2 and in contention for one of the top two seeds in the NFC.
Furthermore, Keenum has now taken over the top spot in quarterback rating. Well, among healthy starting quarterbacks. With a 73.9 rating, the only quarterback ahead of Keenum is Deshaun Watson, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. That means, the likes of Tom Brady, Carson Wentz and Drew Brees trail the fifth-year QB.
As great as Keenum’s played, it’s still not been enough for head coach Mike Zimmer to give him any sort of long-term security.
Zimmer is definitely taking the cautious route here. Basically, he’s suggesting there’s still time for things to head south. There’s still time for Keenum to show that he is just a backup quarterback having a really good season. As matter of fact, it wouldn’t be the first time something similar has happened. Just look at Matt Cassel who had one amazing year with the New England Patriots, but failed to amount to much after that.
Additionally, after last season’s dismal collapse, it’s hard to blame Zimmer for being cautious. I mean, he knows how fast things can change in the blink of an eye. So, keeping the door open for Teddy Bridgewater, someone he holds to a high regard, makes sense.
Even so, the lack of long-term security for Keenum is starting to take a toll. Overall, Case Keenum has been fairly reserved when answering questions about his status moving forward. After the win over the Rams, he seemed to answer like he was a little annoyed with the question, as he should be.
In the end, Mike Zimmer could end the “controversy” by putting all his chips in on Keenum. All he has to do is name Keenum the starting quarterback the rest of the way. No more of the “we’ll see how things go” because it’s just opening the door for Teddy Bridgewater.
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Of course, Keenum could fall apart, but even in that case, Zimmer has every right to change his mind at any moment. Yet, by showing Keenum long-term security, he’s just putting the Teddy Bridgewater whispers to bed for the moment and allowing everyone involved to focus solely on the games ahead. Not to mention, Keenum has earned the long-term security of the coach by being more than just a game manager and leading the Vikings to a 7-2 record as the starting quarterback.
On the other hand, there’s an argument Keenum is performing well under the pressure of no long-term security. But, honestly, he has no reason to feel any different regardless of whether he has the coach’s blessing or not. In fact, if his mindset changed at all, he’s likely asking Teddy to take over. So, the argument that his mindset may change without Bridgewater in the back of his mind seems rather silly.
Nevertheless, Keenum shouldn’t have to answer questions about his status anymore. He’s simply done too great of a job to warrant that kind of treatment. This coming from someone who’s been rather skeptical of him. But, after two huge wins over the Redskins and Rams, he’s shown that he’s more than capable of the job. In particular, he’s shown he can still come through against great teams, not just the ones Minnesota should beat.
Ultimately, Zimmer just needs to come out and say Keenum is his starting quarterback. Not just for a week, but the rest of the year. Until that happens, Teddy is going to be in the middle of the quarterback conversation whether coaches, players or fans like it or not.