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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Which ex-Vikings quarterback will have the best 2018 season?

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings had an unprecedented situation heading into the 2018 offseason with three quality NFL starting quarterbacks – all of which were poised to hit the free agent market.

While all three had good arguments for returning to Minnesota, in the end the Vikings elected to make Kirk Cousins the highest paid QB in the league rather than bring Case Keenum, Sam Bradford or Teddy Bridgewater back.

Now that they have landed new jobs, Vikings fans will no doubt be keeping an eye on their production. How does each fit in his new job? Will they have a quality supporting cast? Will health play a factor in whether they succeed? Let’s check out the outlook for Keenum, Bradford and Bridgewater in their new homes…

Case Keenum – Denver Broncos

Jan 21, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum (7) runs with the ball as Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry (75) chases during the second half during the NFC Championship game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Why he could have the best year:

Case Keenum proved last year that with the right setup, he can provide solid quarterback play. Broncos offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave – like former Vikings OC Pat Shurmur – runs a West Coast offense that is predicated on short passes and the occasional deep shot. When Musgrave was in Oakland in 2016, Derek Carr had success in the quick passing game, averaging 6.3 air yards per completion (11th lowest). Last year, Keenum was seventh lowest at 5.9 air yards per completion.

While the Broncos don’t have an elite receiver, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are still solid players. Thomas caught 83 passes last season and Sanders had 47 receptions in 12 games. Running backs CJ Anderson and Devontae Booker should provide passing options out of the backfield. Former Michigan tight end Jake Butt missed his entire rookie year, but should be back in time for OTAs to add another weapon.

Denver’s offensive line isn’t perfect, but it might end up being as good or better than the 2017 Vikings. Left tackle Garett Bolles had a strong rookie season and guard Ron Leary is among the best players at his position in the NFL.

What could get in the way:

Before Keenum joined the Vikings, he was 9-15 with a 78.4 quarterback rating. If he regresses, the Broncos will be pretty disappointment in their investment. While Keenum has the ability to go off script, he might not have players around him like Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs who can make the most of his improvisation. And if Musgrave asks him to work the ball down the field, he could end up struggling. Keenum was just 11-for-46 on throws traveling over 20 yards.

The Vikings’ running game also provided the journeyman quarterback with a high number of third-and-short plays – which he executed well – but if the Broncos aren’t as effective in the run game, he will have a tough time sustaining drives. Keenum averaged just 5.8 yards per attempt on third-and-long.

Sam Bradford – Arizona Cardinals

Oct 9, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford (8) throws a pass against the Chicago Bears during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Why he could have the best year:

The unluckiest man in the world will get another shot as an NFL starter and hope that he can stay healthy. While he missed all but one-and-a-half games in 2017, Bradford did play 29 of the previous 32 games and one was the 2016 opener after being acquired by the Vikings via trade. During his time in Minnesota, Bradford displayed his fantastic arm strength and accuracy, ranking as one of the best passers in the NFL on deep throws. The veteran quarterback posted a 101.0 rating in 17 starts with the Vikings.

Arizona signed Justin Pugh to bolster their offensive line and receiver Larry Fitzgerald is coming back for another year after ranking as the NFL’s ninth best receiver by Pro Football Focus. Running back David Johnson, who caught 80 passes and averaged 11.0 yards per catch in 2016 will be back from injury in 2018, giving Bradford an effective short option.

In Week 1 last year, we got a glimpse of how good Bradford can be when he is healthy and gets pass protection.

What could get in the way:

If Bradford has any more knee trouble, Arizona could be his last NFL stop. He has missed three years with knee injuries and it’s impossible to know how long his recently-repaired leg will hold up this time. Certainly the Cardinals got better with Pugh, but their offensive line is still sub-par and Bradford doesn’t currently have a quality No. 2 receiver, much less depth weapons.

Teddy Bridgewater – New York Jets

Nov 19, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) warms up before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Why he could have the best year:

If Bridgewater returns to 2015 form, he will have a chance to lead the Jets to the playoffs and either win a job as their franchise quarterback or get a big payday in 2019. He went 17-11 as the Vikings’ starter in his first two seasons and showed a high level of intelligence, competitiveness, leadership and accuracy. With help from solid receivers Robby Anderson and Jermain Kearse, Bridgewater’s ability to make accurate throws into tight windows and produce in big situations like third downs and fourth quarters, he has the potential to get the Jets back into the playoff hunt.

What could get in the way:

A lot could get in the way. Heading into camp, Bridgewater will likely have to beat out Josh McCown and whoever the Jets select with their first-round draft pick. And he will have to do so having not started an NFL game since the end of the 2015 season. The Jets might be improving, but they are hardly a Juggernaut offensively. Past Kearse and Anderson, they do not have a reliable weapon and their offensive line still needs work.

Bridgewater has the lowest chance of success, but will easily be the best story in football if he makes it work. Judging by the things he’s overcome to even be in the NFL, he isn’t someone to bet against.

The post Which ex-Vikings quarterback will have the best 2018 season? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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