“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the Minnesota defensive end said.
The choice to stick with Keenum, who is 5-2 as the Vikings’ starter and coming off a huge NFC road win over Washington, was not a difficult one for coach Mike Zimmer.
Keenum is a key reason why the Vikings are in first place in the NFC North with a 7-2 record. He deserves the opportunity to face off against his former team in a game with arguably the biggest playoff implications of the entire Week 11 slate.
This decision was a no-brianer. After six years as a journeyman backup, Keenum has seized every bit of the rare opportunity before him as the Vikings’ interim starter, and it’s paying dividends. He has the NFL’s third-best Total QBR at 72.6, behind injured Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and the Cowboys‘ Dak Prescott. The Vikings are ninth in total offense, have the No. 12 passing attack and a run game that has gone from dead last to top-11 with Keenum at the helm.
Most importantly, he has earned the right to stay the starting quarterback until something actually warrants a switch.
This is the right choice for Week 11. From here, we’ll see if Keenum as the starter is the right choice for Weeks 12-17. The Vikings aren’t just worried about now — they’re trying to figure out which quarterback on their roster can get them a playoff win on the road.
If the Vikings want to sign Teddy Bridgewater as their quarterback of the future in the offseason, they need tangible proof that he’s their guy. That obviously comes from seeing how he plays in a game.
Bridgewater being active doesn’t guarantee he’ll start this season. It’s expected that eventually he’ll regain his job, and for good reason. But while Bridgewater undoubtedly has the higher ceiling, that doesn’t relate whatsoever to what’s happening in the present.
Keenum has performed better, statistically, this season than Bridgewater did in his first two years in the NFL. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has been able to install an aggressive game plan and rely on Keenum’s mobility to expand this team’s look on offense. Instead of playing it safe with his backup, Shurmur has the confidence to let Keenum create explosive pass plays. He has thrown 31 passes of at least 20 yards downfield since Week 2.
What’s the rush? There’s legitimately zero harm in riding Keenum as far as he can take you. Bridgewater is still going to prepare for his return and will be ready to take over when needed.
So, what happens next? Since there’s no real quarterback controversy, can we end the weekly “is he or isn’t he going to start” debate until Keenum does something to have his job taken away? If Keenum exhibits the erratic throws against Los Angeles that he did against Washington, he might find himself on the outside looking in, not in control of his destiny.
“I just have to know the situation,” Keenum said. “I have to be smart. I can’t put our team in tough spots like that.”
Keenum’s window may still be limited as a starter. Regardless of whether the Vikings let him run with the job until he’s no longer able to, there’s no denying they made the right choice in the short term.