The Minnesota Vikings are flying high after a 24-7 win over the Los Angeles Rams. They're 8-2. They own a two-game lead in the NFC North. And they're peaking, evidenced by their six-game winning streak. But a tough decision is still looming for Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.
Stick with starter Case Keenum? Or make the move to Teddy Bridgewater?
After the Vikings' win on Sunday, coach Mike Zimmer addressed the quarterback situation. He admitted that it'd be difficult to bench Keenum right now. But he also said that he still has "really high hopes" for Bridgewater.
"It's going to be hard to yank him out of there right now. He's playing good," Zimmer said, per the Star Tribune's Ben Goessling. "I still have really high hopes for Teddy, and a lot of things happen throughout the course of the season, so we'll just see how it goes."
Zimmer is right. It is going to be difficult to pull Keenum right now, because right now Keenum is playing well. Against the Vikings, he went 27 of 38 for 280 yards (7.4 YPA), one touchdown, no picks, and a 100.8 passer rating. He entered the game with a 64.9 completion percentage, 7.3 yards per attempt, 11 touchdowns, five interceptions, and a 92.6 passer rating. Keenum might not be perfect, but he's playing well enough for the Vikings to rip off six straight wins.
Zimmer is also right to have high hopes for Bridgewater, who never had the luxury of operating in an offense like this. This offensive line has allowed Keenum to be sacked once in the past six games. Bridgewater was sacked 2.86 times per game during the first two seasons of his career. Keenum also has the luxury of throwing passes to Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, both of whom have developed into top-tier receivers after Bridgewater's gruesome injury ended his 2016 season before it could even begin. Even with a subpar supporting staff, Bridgewater showed enough signs of promise that he was considered the future of the Vikings' franchise after their 2015 season ended with a devastating playoff loss to the Seahawks.
There's no question that Keenum is playing well. He shouldn't be benched right now, even if his supporting cast is elevating his level of play. But there's also no question that Bridgewater has a higher ceiling than Keenum -- the first five years of Keenum's career prove that much. And that makes the situation tricky.
At what point does Zimmer turn to Bridgewater? If Keenum experiences only one bad outing, will he lose his job? If the Vikings think Keenum will begin to look more like himself at some point, doesn't it make sense to bench him sooner rather than later so that Bridgewater can shake off the rust before the playoffs?
It's tricky, but it's also a luxury. In a season featuring starting quarterbacks like Tom Savage, Blaine Gabbert, Blake Bortles, Brett Hundley, C.J. Beathard, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and so on, the Vikings have two quarterbacks they feel comfortable rolling with as they make their push for the NFC's top playoff seed. Plenty of teams would love to be in the Vikings' situation.