When I started watching professional football in the 1980s, Tommy Kramer was the quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. I was enarmored with how easily he seemed to sling the football downfield. Of course, I was just becoming familiarized with the NFL and soon came to realize that being a Vikings fan meant that I had to become accustomed to controversy at the quarterback position.
It wasn’t long before people were clamoring for Wade Wilson to man the helm for the purple and gold. They got their wish in 1987, but it wasn’t too many years before Wilson was no longer the quarterback du jour and Rich “Loose Cannon” Gannon took over.
And the list goes on and on. It reads a bit like an Old Testament book in the Bible. Gannon begat Sean Salisbury who begat Jim McMahon who begat Warren Moon. Every turnover at the most important position seemed a quick grasp at who might get the franchise over the Super Bowl hump without thought to developing a franchise quarterback instead.
Maybe Brad Johnson will be it. No, wait, how about a shot with Randall Cunningham? No? Then here’s Jeff George! Until at last Daunte Culpepper arrived in 2000. Maybe he would be the one! And he was the longest tenured QB since the aforementioned Tommy Kramer, staying through 2005, but that’s hardly franchise material.
Brad Johnson was back. Well, for awhile. Remember Tarvaris Jackson? How about Gus Frerotte? I haven’t even mentioned such short-term fill-ins like Spergon Wynn, Brooks Bollinger, Todd Bouman, or Kelly Holcomb. And all the fans sat back with fingers crossed, hoping the Vikings had stumbled upon a revelation.
And then Brett Favre arrived. It was difficult to swallow at first. I mean, for how many years had we rooted against the former Green Bay Packer? Yet, he came as close to leading the team to the promised land as anyone. Yet, that was another quick shot at glory.
Next up was Christian Ponder, a first round draft pick. The less said there, the better. Maybe Matt Cassel? After all, he did play in New England for a while, so he knew how to win, right? Or not.
At last, Teddy Bridgewater was chosen in the draft. Surely, he would be the franchise quarterback we’d all longed for since the halcyon days of Fran Tarkenton. But when players get injured on teams that have playoff aspirations, panic sets in again, as it did to start the 2016 season. The team traded for Sam Bradford in an all-in move, hoping he’d stay healthy and their defense would lead the way. And Bradford was not too bad, except that there was no running game at all, and the Vikings missed the playoffs.
And here we are in 2017, sitting at 6-2, with another quarterback controversy. Case Keenum has stepped in when Bradford, too, got hurt, and he’s done well. Yet the rumblings are there. Bridgewater might be ready soon. And what if Bradford’s mysterious knee ailment gets better? What do you do on a potential playoff team with three capable quarterbacks?
The case for Case: Keenum has done a good job helping lead the team to this record. He is mobile in the pocket and can throw accurately all over the field. With good recievers like Stefon Diggs and Minnesota’s own Adam Thielen, he just has to throw it in the area sometimes. He has some experience in the league, though mainly as a backup.
What about Bradford? He might have the most proven talent of any of the three. After all, he was a #1 overall draft pick. If not for persistant knee injuries, he may have been in the upper echelon of quarterbacks in the NFL. But every time he gets started, a knee goes balky on him. He set a record in 2016 for passing accuracy.
And then there’s Teddy. He excited fans with his play in 2015, leading the squad to a division title. He’s got tremendous potential and is the most capable runner, seeing the field with great vision as he heads upfield. He seemed to be gaining in accuracy, and 2016 was supposed to be his breakout year.
So who should it be? The problem here is that no matter who coach Mike Zimmer chooses in the games ahead, he will have chosen the wrong man unless this team wins the Super Bowl. That doesn’t seem fair, but we all know that if/when the Vikings lose their final game, Zimmer will get heat for not playing a different quarterback.
I really think it should be Case Keenum’s job until he really stumbles. I don’t think he should lose his job if the team loses a game, but there may still be a time where Teddy or Sam should be the quarterback. But if the team keeps winning for the most part with Keenum, why take him out? It’s a little like watching Charlie Morton finish the World Series for the Astros. Everything tells you to take him out except for the fact that he’s doing the job.
All the Ted-Heads are calling for Bridgewater sooner rather than later, but he hasn’t seen live action in over a year. I’d rather see him in a back-up role and ready to roll next season. If he gets hurt again because he’s not used to all the contact, then what? And the same goes for Bradford. Unless you need him in a game, his risk of injury at this point means Keenum better be ready anyway.
How will it all play out? I don’t think even the Vikings’ head honchos have any idea. All they need to do is win the Super Bowl to have the right answer, so no pressure.
Word of the Week: This week’s word is whataboutery, which means responding to an accusation by making a counter-accusation, real or imaginary, as in, “The coach responded to the reporter questioning his quarterback choice with some whataboutery, trying to take the heat off himself.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!