There are two trains of thought when it comes to the Minnesota Vikings’ current quarterback situation. The first is tried and true. You don’t mess with a good thing. Veteran, mediocre QB Case Keenum has guided Minnesota to a surprising 7-2 record, including five consecutive wins. In the NFL, where the line between success and failure is so thin, you don’t fiddle with a winning formula.
Keenum has been his normal mediocre self during the Vikings’ splendid season. In eight games of action, Keenum has a 92.6 quarterback rating. That’s great for a decade ago and comfortably solid in today’s game. He ranks 14th among all qualified QBs, well ahead of the likes of Philip Rivers and Jameis Winston. Keenum has an 11-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. His 7.31 yards/attempt is 16th in the NFL, ahead of Derek Carr, Cam Newton, and even Aaron Rodgers. Keenum has been just fine.
And then there’s the most important stat for a quarterback! Keenum is 6-2 this season on the win-loss ledger. For a Vikings team that was supposed to be in the meat of the wildcard chase, Keenum has pushed them above the fray, into a comfortable two-game lead in the NFC North.
But those facts ignore the details, which is why Minnesota needs to make the change to Teddy Bridgewater.
Minnesota appears in the upper echelon of the NFC with its 7-2 record. However, the team has a +52 point differential, which is comfortably worse than all the other top contenders in the conference. All the other current division leaders have scored at least 100 more points than they’ve allowed through 10 weeks. And the Vikings’ five-game winning streak is also misleading because of who it has come against. This squad has just completed its easiest stretch of the schedule and is heading into the hardest.
In Keenum games, Minnesota has beaten zero current playoff teams. It defeated no NFC team slotted better than third in its respective division. Baltimore is the only second-place win Keenum has led, and the Ravens are currently 4-5. Week 10’s win at Washington was probably the best win the Vikings have gotten with Keenum at the helm.
Winning the games in front of you is all a team can do. But projecting how that roster will perform against stiffer competition is what a coaching staff and front office are required to do. Keenum’s best game, the win over the Redskins, saw him throw two poor interceptions in the second half. He has turned the ball over at least once in four straight games. There is a reason why he was the team’s third-string quarterback during the offseason.
Teddy Bridgewater may be rusty. He may never get back to the player he once was. He may even screw up the good things this offense had going. But he also gives Minnesota the best chance of securing a postseason berth and competing for a title.
Bridgewater is a gifted quarterback with a much higher ceiling than Keenum has. We want to see what Bridgewater can do with a healthy offensive line and a quality group of receivers to throw to. We know what Keenum can manage: adequate play against poor competition. Bridgewater can be better against stiffer opponents, which is what the Vikes should strive for.
In their next four weeks, they play teams with a combined record of 24-13, with three of the games coming on the road. These aren’t opponents who will cave to a mediocre attack. Minnesota ranks 11th in the league in points per play. Unless it gets a better output, this team could come crashing back to the pack over the next month.
Teams are usually slow to react to change if things are going well, not wanting to disturb the proverbial apple cart. But predicting when change is necessary is as important as not being too impulsive. Right now, heading into Week 11 is when the Vikings need a change to the more impactful Bridgewater. Holding steady and remaining patient with what has gotten them there could be the worst thing the Vikes do this season.
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