Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Conundrum

The Minnesota Vikings, led by Case Keenum, lost in a heartbreaking thumping by the Philidelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game. All is not lost, the Vikings are set up to have another good season next year and perhaps an even better one. The offseason topic that tops their “to-do” list is sorting out the quarterback position. Who will be the next Minnesota Vikings Quarterback?

Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Conundrum

Case Keenum, Sam Bradford, or Teddy Bridgewater?

The most likely option is that the Vikings keep one of their quarterbacks from the 2017 season: Sam Bradford, Case Keenum or Teddy Bridgewater.  Each has merits and drawbacks but all three are viable starting quarterbacks.

Case Keenum

Keenum might be the biggest Cinderella story of the season posting an 11-3 record as a starter after being a career backup to this point in his career. Keenum’s strength’s this season were that he took care of the ball, accuracy, mobility and the ability to make a big throw from time to time. Statistically, Keenum is clearly seated in the top ten QBs in the league. He was seventh in passer rating, second in completion percentage, fourth in interception percentage and lead four gaming winning drives.

Stats aren’t everything. By stats, Keenum must be kept because he was, statistically, a top 10 quarterback in 2017. Perhaps the Vikings should even tag him. The drawbacks for Keenum is he doesn’t have the great arm strength you’d like, which results in frustrating “rainbow” passes on longer passes. Deep ball passing, in general, hasn’t been a consistent asset either. Some fans have become frustrated with his gunslinger mentality when perhaps he doesn’t possess the ability to play as well as past gunslinger quarterbacks like Brett Farve did. Perhaps the biggest drawback to keeping Keenum is that his playoff performance was clearly subpar. He didn’t benefit from good protection during the playoffs, but his performance was still disappointing.

Sam Bradford

Sam Bradford showed us early in the season what he’s capable of as a pure passer.  Out of the three quarterbacks, Bradford is without a question the best passer in almost every way. Bradford has the prototype big arm, accuracy ability to throw receivers open and command an offense. If Bradford didn’t have such a well-documented injury history he’d be the clear choice to lead the Vikings in 2018. He’s not without faults, as noted he has had career-long issues staying healthy but also not mobile so will require good offensive line play (more so than the other two) to be effective.

Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater is a fan favorite for his likability. Bridgewater was just entering his third season and everything we saw in preseason and OTA’s to that point indicated that he was poised for a big step up. Then the horrific knee injury happened Teddy missed two entire seasons and being a healthy inactive for the playoffs. Play wise Teddy actually figures to play a similar style as Case Keenum in many ways. He’s mobile and accurate but also has less than ideal arm strength and inconsistency with long throws. Of the three he’s also the least experienced as well. The biggest reason to keep Teddy is that he’s still young so still has upside and projects to be, in my opinion, no worse than Keenum. So while may never be better than Keenum, Teddy still has potential whereas I think Keenum is near prime.

What the Vikings are Thinking

The Vikings haven’t hinted one way or the other on the subject, but we can try to read between the lines. Mike Zimmer openly criticized Keenum throughout the season, and never actually dubbed Keenum the starter for the remaining part of the season. In fact, Zimmer seems to have a commitment problem when it comes to Case Keenum. Perhaps this is Zimmer’s way to motivate him but maybe not.

Zimmer often speaks highly of Teddy Bridgewater, and the young quarterback is seen as beloved by the coaching and front office staff. In fairness, many of the glowing comments from Zimmer about Bridgewater are not related to what he thinks of him on the field, but as a person instead. I tend to lead toward Zimmer liking Teddy as both a person and a player, but some don’t think that’s the case.

Sam Bradford also seems to be a favorite of Mike Zimmer. Almost everything Zimmer has had to say has been very positive when it comes to Bradford. I think as a coach he likes Sam’s arm talent and knowledge of the game. It should also be noted that Zimmer made a special trip to visit Sam in Oklahoma to get to know him better while he was recovering from his eye issues.

What does all this mean?

If I’m reading to the tea leaves, Bradford and Bridgewater seem to be more personal favorites of Coach Zimmer than Keenum. Bradford and Bridgewater both have durability concerns but we don’t have any idea of the front office’s opinion. Keenum is likely to demand the highest salary of the three. However, all three want to be starters so it’s highly unlikely more than one of them stays in Minnesota.

When it comes down to it, Teddy Bridgewater makes the most sense of the three. I believe he is capable of matching Case Keenum’s production with the potential to be even better. Bridgewater will be the least expensive of the three and is the youngest with the most upside. The wildcard here is Rick Spielman’s thoughts on the position. If Spielman and Zimmer are on the same page, I have no doubt that Bridgewater will be the starter. If not, I could see a situation where any of the three remains with the Vikings. One thing to consider is that the Spielman doesn’t typically use the franchise tag, which can affect the viability of signing Keenum.

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