LANDOVER, Md. — Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum picked the right time to play one among his finest video games of the yr. Teddy Bridgewater, the crew’s star signal-caller, was lastly again in uniform after a ugly knee damage sidelined him for practically 15 months. The Vikings have been attempting to push their present profitable streak to 5 video games, whereas creating extra momentum of their run on the NFC North title. This may’ve been the second when Keenum’s flaws proved deadly. Instead, he informed the world that the Vikings may have a troublesome determination to make.
The most notable side of Minnesota’s 38-30 win over Washington wasn’t the truth that Bridgewater is lastly prepared to start out enjoying soccer once more after what many described as a career-threatening damage. It was that Keenum morphed right into a quarterback who appeared able to main the Vikings in a approach many anticipated Bridgewater to do. Keenum torched the Redskins in FedEx Field for 304 yards and 4 touchdowns. In doing so, he turned the primary quarterback to surpbad the 300-yard mark in opposition to Washington’s protection all season.
That form of effort was greater than sufficient to badist the Vikings enhance to 7-2. It additionally meant that Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer has extra inquiries to ask himself as Keenum proved why he ought to proceed to steer this crew for the foreseeable future.
“I’ve got a plan and we’ll just see how it goes,” mentioned Zimmer after watching his crew set a season-high in factors. “Sometimes plans change but we’ll see how it goes. We’ll sit down this week and visit about it and then we’ll go from there.”
Zimmer knew the query about his quarterback state of affairs was coming the second he walked into his press convention. Keenum had simply performed lights out and Bridgewater had spent a very good portion of his post-game time answering questions on being activated for his first sport this yr. It shortly felt as if Bridgewater’s presence was crucial storyline of the day. It additionally wasn’t honest to suppose Keenum’s effort deserved second-clbad billing.
There’s little doubt that Bridgewater goes to play sooner or later. The query Zimmer has to ask himself is when that makes essentially the most sense for his crew. That determination would’ve been simpler if Keenum had dissatisfied and even been merely common in opposition to the Redskins. Since that did not occur, we’ll have to attend and see how lengthy Keenum can hold his sizzling hand going.
There are two vital issues to recollect right here. The first is that Zimmer loves Bridgewater, who was the crew’s first-round draft choose in 2014 and the person who helped lead this crew to the playoffs a yr later. The second is that Keenum is a journeyman who’s on his third crew in 4 years, a participant who had solely seven landing pbades this season previous to Sunday and would not even be enjoying if the Vikings hadn’t misplaced Sam Bradford — the person who changed Bridgewater final season — to damage. As harsh because it sounds, Keenum has been a short-timer ever since he stepped beneath heart in a 26-9 loss to Pittsburgh on September 17.
Now fast-forward to Sunday afternoon. The similar man who wasn’t imagined to even be main the Vikings was firing pbades everywhere in the subject in opposition to a befuddled Redskins protection. Keenum accomplished 11 of 14 makes an attempt and threw three landing pbades within the first half. He additionally helped lead Minnesota to a 35-17 benefit early within the third quarter. If not for 2 second-half interceptions, his day would’ve been about pretty much as good because it will get.
It says loads that Keenum — who’s been used to holding down a job for any individual else and in addition being an emergency substitute — could possibly be so productive.
“Every situation I’ve been in has prepared me for the next one,” Keenum mentioned. “That’s what experience is about and how you learn from your mistakes. For me, I compartmentalize [the situation with Bridgewater being available to play]. I’m here to do my job and that’s to put this team in the best possible situation to win every week. Was I perfect today? No. But I think we did a good job.”
When requested concerning the affect Keenum has had during the last eight video games, huge receiver Adam Thielen added that “it’s his competitive spirit and the way he prepares. It pushes us as teammates to do our job to that level. I just love the way he comes out. He wants it worse than anybody on the team. You need that from your emotional leader and your quarterback.”
If this have been every other crew, the Vikings would possibly undergo from relentless questions on what they need to do subsequent. After all, Bridgewater is immensely widespread and he was the starter earlier than he suffered a devastating damage to his left knee final August (he tore the ACL and dislocated the knee throughout a non-contact drill). He’s additionally a beneficiant soul who has helped Keenum lead this crew during the last couple months. The relationship they’ve constructed speaks volumes about how each males have approached the state of affairs.
Bridgewater understands the job will likely be his once more sometime. Keenum realizes that each one he can do is proceed to play his finest and hold the Vikings profitable.
“Case did a great job studying this week,” Bridgewater mentioned. “He’s been doing a great job since he’s been here in the film room. He’s one of those guys who’s around the facility from sun up to sun down — one of the last cats to leave the facility. When you put the time in the way he does, you get nothing but good results when you’re out on the field.”
“[Bridgewater] is a fan favorite, and he’s my favorite, too,” Keenum mentioned. “I’ll have a
Teddy Bridgewater jersey at house. I informed any individual on the sector that Teddy positively raises the “cool” issue within the quarterback room tremendously. On the sector, he is one other set of eyes. It’s nice to have him understanding what is going on on and having the ability to speak about sure issues, whether or not that is protections, routes or coverages. He’s a terrific crew participant and nice teammate.”
What Keenum did not must say was that his personal margin for error will develop shorter with every pbading week. Zimmer loves the effectivity that’s Bridgewater’s trademark, and each of Keenum’s interceptions have been performs that can drive a defensive-minded coach batty. The first concerned Keenum throwing the ball into a gaggle of 4 Redskins defenders, a call that led to a choose by security D.J. Swearinger within the third quarter. Swearinger additionally snatched one other Keenum go within the fourth quarter — this one supposed for tight finish Kyle Rudolph — and arrange a Redskins landing by returning that interception to the Vikings’ 2-yard line.
When requested about his quarterback’s day, Zimmer acknowledged that “Case played outstanding” but in addition mentioned, “I wish the two throws he had in the second half he wouldn’t have made, but he’s an excitable guy.” That’s a savvy coach’s approach of claiming that he likes his quarterback, however he isn’t about to fall in love with him. Keenum will want extra days like he had in opposition to Washington to maintain this job. The excellent news for him is that he hasn’t appeared this comfy main a soccer crew in a very long time.
This is not the identical man we noticed in Houston or the one who was holding a spot for Jared Goff to slip into for the Los Angeles Rams. There are higher outcomes, extra dynamic performs and a confidence that could not be missed on Sunday afternoon. In different phrases, Keenum appeared like a man who’s greater than able to put in additional work. If the Vikings are good, they will hold giving him extra probabilities to look pretty much as good as he did in Washington.
Follow Jeffri Chadiha on Twitter @jeffrichadiha.