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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Mike Zimmer doesn’t need to name Case Keenum starter for the rest of the year

By Matthew Coller

Urging Following the Minnesota Vikings’ 24-7 win over the Los Angeles Rams, three different national postgame shows declared that head coach Mike Zimmer should announce Case Keenum as his starting quarterback for the rest of the year.

Um. Why?

Sure, Keenum has been good. He’s won six games in a row and totaled 11 touchdowns, five interceptions and a 92.6 quarterback rating. And he’s done so in the midst of a national debate over whether the Vikings should bench him for Teddy Bridgewater.

Keenum was made for this type of situation. Questions about whether he should be the starter – whether it’s from the head coach or the fans, who some Tweeters reported to have been chanting, “Teddy! Teddy” on Sunday – are Keenum’s norm. Ask a hockey player if he’s distracted by the cold or a baseball player if the sun is in his eyes. Yep, but that’s how it always is.

The locker room isn’t split. Bridgewater’s been Keenum’s biggest supporter. And Zimmer’s lukewarm endorsements haven’t dimmed Keenum’s beaming confidence.

Naming him the starter for the rest of the year only sets up for Zimmer to look silly if he has to bench Keenum.

One thing to keep in mind as we analyze the Vikings’ quarterback situation is sample size. This isn’t Keenum’s first stretch of strong play during his career – just as some .250 hitters occasionally bat .400 for a month.

In 2013, he threw eight touchdowns, two interceptions in his first five starts, picking up 7.3 yards per attempt and posting a quarterback rating of 89.6. Over his next five starts, Keenum tossed one TD, six INTs and put up a 55.7 rating.

In five games from September 18 to October 16 last year, Keenum notched seven touchdowns, 8.4 yards per attempt and a 97.4 rating. In the next five games, his rating was 64.7.

Maybe his success will continue this time. The Vikings’ veteran has been given an offensive line that has given up five sacks in eight games, a running game that has combined for over 1,000 yards, two of the top-20 wide receivers in the NFL, an innovative offensive coordinator and arguably the NFL’s best defense.

If it does continue, then Zimmer will just leave him in.

But if Keenum hits the wall as he’s done in the past, the Vikings’ head coach has to leave the door open for Bridgewater to come back.

We say that it’s impossible to tell what Bridgewater will look like when he returns, but Zimmer has seen the former first-round pick in practice every day since mid October. He’s got a much better idea than any of us.

If Bridgewater got into a game and struggled, Zimmer could always turn back to Keenum. The journeyman showed against the Chicago Bears that he can be benched and pop right back in with no problem.

Another point is how Zimmer has handled his locker room this year. He mentioned last week that he’d meet with the team’s leadership to discuss the quarterback situation. So it won’t just be a Zimmer decision – it will be a Riley Reiff, Everson Griffen, Terence Newman etc. decision.

The Vikings also have time to sort these things out. Six weeks is a long time. If Keenum sputters against Detroit, they would have 10 days for Bridgewater to get ready. If he’s great, they keep riding him and see what happens along the way.

Locking into Keenum now would only leave Zimmer’s hands tied if things go south later on.

The post Mike Zimmer doesn’t need to name Case Keenum starter for the rest of the year appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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