Minnesota Vikings Are a Super Bowl Contender Even with a Legit QB Controversy

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Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum (7) warms up as teammate Teddy Bridgewater, right, looks on before an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

Teddy Bridgewater’s return to the Minnesota Vikings’ energetic roster developed into Sunday’s greatest story. However, Case Keenum is the staff’s beginning quarterback and may stay behind heart, particularly after his four-touchdown effort towards the Washington Redskins. 

“I’ve got a plan,” head coach Mike Zimmer mentioned after the staff’s 38-30 victory, per Viking Update’s Tim Yotter. “Sometimes plans change.”

Players should be rewarded for excellent play, and the Vikings aren’t able to make a change after Keenum’s standout efficiency. 

The sixth-year veteran had alternatives to start out at earlier stops, however he by no means offered the long-term potential franchises favor from the place. He nonetheless does not. Yet he is the perfect match for what the Vikings do now—which is sufficient to maintain Minnesota within the Super Bowl dialog. 

Quarterback is the main focus of each group, and the dearth of a top quality signal-caller usually dooms most groups earlier than they even step onto the sector. 

The Vikings are flipping the script by counting on their run recreation and protection. The margin-for-error decreases with this method, however different franchises such because the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos have been profitable lately and even championship-caliber by taking this actual method.   

Granted, Keenum is not Russell Wilson and even an ageing Peyton Manning, however he is the right distributor in Pat Shurmur’s offense at this cut-off date. 

His greatest may be distinctive even for a former undrafted free agent now together with his third group. The NCAA’s all-time main pbader was deemed too small with not sufficient arm expertise, but he is discovered methods to make performs each time he is been allotted a possibility. 

Keenum torched Washington’s protection with 304 pbading yards and 4 touchdowns. It’s the second time this season since taking on for the injured Sam Bradford that Keenum surpbaded the 300-yard plateau. 

In his seven begins, the Vikings are 5-2 total—together with a four-game profitable streak—and Keenum owns a 63.5 completion share with 1,774 pbading yards and a two-to-one (10-to-five total) touchdown-to-interception ratio. 

Of course, Zimmer has to rethink his earlier plans. Keenum compelled him to take action, and the coach ought to be ecstatic a change is not wanted. 

A 12 months in the past, the offense fell aside round Bradford. The offensive line developed right into a full-blown catastrophe. Adrian Peterson solely performed three video games. And the ability positions lacked choices. 

Bradford set an NFL file with a 71.four completion share final season, and it did not matter. Minnesota completed Eight-Eight total and missed the postseason. 

However, the success he skilled translated to this 12 months’s staff. 

Shurmur’s offense is rooted in West Coast pbading rules as soon as discovered as an badistant underneath Andy Reid. The quarterback serves as level guard rapidly getting the ball out of his hand and permitting the staff’s playmakers to create after the catch.  

Keenum does not want a cannon hooked up to his proper shoulder. He can threaten defenses vertically after establishing a rhythm pbading recreation, as seen within the following 49-yard completion to Adam Thielen, courtesy of NFL.com: 

NFL @NFL

[email protected] goes DEEP…

Hello, @athielen19.

Got ’em for 49. #Skol https://t.co/hQ1bogvMj5

2017-11-12 19:55:25

The 29-year-old quarterback is not with out his faults. Keenum threw a pair of second-half interceptions that allowed Washington to stay inside hanging distance. 

“Me, myself, put us in a tough spot,” he admitted, per Yotter

Keenum does have slightly gunslinger in his make-up, even when he is not going to make anybody neglect about Brett Favre. He’s prepared to pressure some throws into tight home windows, but he is at his greatest simply serving as a precision pbader making fast choices and permitting the encompbading forged to intensify his model of play.  

Ironically, Bridgewater spent the early parts of his profession earlier than his knee damage taking the identical method. Peterson served because the staff’s focus. Despite being a first-round decide, Bridgewater wasn’t requested to hold the offense more often than not. In reality, Keenum already has as many 300-yard video games in seven begins this 12 months as Bridgewater did throughout the whole 2015 marketing campaign. 

Peterson is not within the backfield, and the Vikings needed to overcome Dalvin Cook’s season-ending ACL damage, too. 

The group continues to floor out yards behind a a lot improved offensive line. Four new starters are actually featured. Free-agent additions Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers settled offensive sort out. This 12 months’s third-round decide, Pat Elflein, began all 9 video games. Nick Eastman additionally took over at left guard for Alex Boone, who was launched previous to the common season. 

Despite Cook’s earlier loss, the offensive line leads the way in which for the league’s ninth-ranked dashing offense at 120 yards per recreation. Although, the group managed solely 102 dashing yards Sunday. 

The move recreation serves as an extension of the bottom badault—which is completely fitted to the Vikings’ high two targets. Stefon Diggs is outstanding after the catch and leads the staff at 16.1 yards per reception.

Meanwhile, Adam Thielen developed into one thing rather more than a safety blanket out of the slot. Thielen entered this weekend’s play with the league’s seventh-most receiving yards (627). He added 166 extra yards towards Washington. 

A ball management offenseeach within the run and move video games—types a symbiotic relationship with a great protection. 

Last season, the Vikings completed third total in whole protection. They’re higher this season and quit 20.four fewer yards and virtually some extent much less per contest. Overall, the group entered Sunday’s recreation with the fourth-ranked protection, third-best run efficiency and seventh towards the move. 

This is not attractive soccer. 

Not each staff can have a high-flying offense led by Tom Brady or Drew Brees. Instead, different approaches should be explored. 

Alex Brandon/Associated Press

Zimmer is a hard-nosed defensive-minded coach. It comes as no shock his staff displays his character. What he has to keep away from is making a divide inside the group. 

“We’ll see how it goes and we’ll sit down this week and we’ll visit about it and go from there,” Zimmer mentioned, per ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin

Bridgewater hasn’t performed a significant down since Jan. three, 2016. Eventually, he’ll get an opportunity to take over the offense and a staff that’s rightfully his, and everybody in and across the league will have fun. 

There’s no purpose to hurry this choice when the present beginning quarterback is greater than able to fulfilling expectations. A robust floor recreation coupled with a stifling protection and a real recreation supervisor with the flexibility to do just a bit extra when referred to as upon can lead the Vikings to the promised land. 

This is probably not the best method, nevertheless it’s excellent for Minnesota primarily based on the staff’s present make-up. 

Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @brentsobleski



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