MINNEAPOLIS — The Great Quarterback Debate can be put to rest. At least for this week, please?
The Case vs. Teddy hysteria that has divided Vikings-land should be a non-talker after Sunday’s 24-7 dismantling of the Los Angeles Rams at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Debating who should start at quarterback right now is a waste of time and just seems silly. Case Keenum not only is playing winning football, he’s scripting one of the best stories in the NFL after improving to 6-2 as a starter (7-2 if counting his win over the Chicago Bears in relief).
Teddy Bridgewater’s return to competition will happen someday, and it will be emotional and inspiring. Until then, let’s all relax and enjoy this unexpected infusion that Keenum has provided the offense with his go-for-broke attitude.
“It’s going to be hard to yank him out of there right now,” Vikings’ coach Mike Zimmer acknowledged.
This shouldn’t be a conversation anymore. Keenum continues to look unflappable in the face of this unique situation. He’s handled constant questions about his job status with patience. He doesn’t appear bothered by Bridgewater’s presence over his shoulder or a popular public opinion that the team is waiting for him to fail to make a switch.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Keenum said. “Let’s keep doing what we’re doing. Coach Zimmer is the coach. It’s his decision. I’m here to play. However he wants to do it, I’m here. I want to be the best player for this team.”
Keenum got the last laugh against his former team, but he didn’t fall prey to overzealous emotions in wanting to stick it to the Rams. He played like a cool customer in completing 27 of 38 passes for 280 yards and one touchdown.
“One of the first things (Zimmer) said this week was, don’t go off the reservation,” Keenum said.
Well, there was that one pass in the first quarter. Keenum channeled his inner Favre with a daring escape that Harry Houdini would’ve loved.
The sequence started with a Rams rusher swiping at Keenum’s arm in a failed attempt to create a fumble. Linebacker Connor Barwin then had a free run at Keenum up the middle. Keenum ducked and Barwin whiffed over the top of him.
Keenum stood up and had a split second before defensive end Michael Brockers clobbered him. Amid all that chaos, Keenum somehow floated a pass to Adam Thielen for a 12-yard reception.
“That was crazy,” Keenum said.
Maybe not the safest throw, but it worked out. Zimmer was asked if he thought the pass would be intercepted.
“I’m thinking a lot of things at that point,” he said. “But he’s got a horseshoe right now.”
Luck, skill, magic, who cares? Keenum is a hoot to watch.
He keeps slinging passes on the run and making an occasional risky throw as if he has all the job security in the world. That’s a credit to him sticking to his style and not playing tight or cautious.
“We love the way he plays the game,” Thielen said. “He plays with a lot of passion.”
And confidence. Lots of confidence. Keenum’s comfort level with his receivers, his line and Pat Shurmur’s scheme seems to improve with each game.
His 28-yard completion to tight end Kyle Rudolph up the seam in double coverage was perfectly placed, and it showed his trust level in Rudolph. That’s just one example.
Keenum appears to be at his best — or riskiest, depending on one’s view — when he flees the pocket. His ability to keep plays alive has turned busted plays into big gains.
“One of the first things he said when he came into the huddle (as the starter) was, ‘Hey, I like to run around a little bit so don’t give up on plays,’ “ Rudolph said.
Keenum has made it impossible for the team to give up on him by how well he has directed the offense in relief of Sam Bradford. He has become a fascinating story.
Keenum made another statement Sunday, to his former team and to those who still thought the Vikings needed a quarterback change.