Quotulatiousness

November 21, 2017

Keenum or Bridgewater?

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

If there’s anything that sportscasters love, its a quarterback controversy, so Minnesota’s fascinating quarterback situation is providing lots of hot takes, but sturdily resists becoming an actual controversy on the team. The Vikings started the season with Sam Bradford at QB1, Case Keenum as his backup at QB2, and Kyle Sloter, a hot-shot youngster snapped up after a great preseason performance for Denver, as the developmental QB3. Teddy Bridgewater was still on the PUP list and nobody knew when or even if he’d be medically cleared to come back to the team, and if he did return, there was no assurance that he’d be able to resume his career right where he left off before the 2016 season.

Life comes at you fast, especially in football, as Sam Bradford appeared in the weekly injury report after his excellent opening game against the New Orleans Saints, and did not get back onto the field for several weeks. Keenum stepped up and did his best to hold things together until Bradford’s knee could heal. Bradford was back on the field for game 5 against the Chicago Bears, but it quickly became clear that he didn’t belong on the field, if only for his own safety. Keenum came on in relief and Bradford eventually was put on the injured reserve list.

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November 20, 2017

Vikings beat Rams 24-7 after a slow start

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

The Los Angeles Rams took the opening kickoff and marched down the field to score the opening touchdown of the game, and (probably like a lot of Vikings fans) I thought “Oh, no, here we go again.” Yet that was it for Rams scoring for the rest of the day. The Vikings were slow to start, but eventually reeled off 24 unanswered points (plus two missed field goals) to advance their record to 8-2 on the year.

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November 13, 2017

Vikings beat Washington 38-30 in DC

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

The Vikings play Washington so frequently, this almost seemed like a divisional game. Case Keenum was having a really good game up until back-to-back interceptions allowed Washington to (almost) climb back into contention. Both errant passes were intended for tight end Kyle Rudolph, but both went instead to D.J. Swearinger. For a $2 million investment, Minnesota has had fantastic production from their backup quarterback, but this game showed why he’s never been able to lock down a starting role. When the Vikings defence is on their game, all Keenum needs to do is keep the chains moving and avoid turnovers — this wasn’t one of the times that the vaunted Vikings D was showing at their best (Everson Griffen was not active for the game, and demonstrated how much he provides to the team).

That said, I still hope that the Vikings offer Keenum an extension to stay with the team for at least 2018, but still as a backup to Teddy Bridgewater (or, if Teddy really can’t get back to his pre-injury form, Sam Bradford).

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October 28, 2017

Case Keenum gets no respect PLUS rumblings from the Bridgewater Underground

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Poor Case Keenum. The Vikings’ backup quarterback has done just about everything you could ask of a backup in the NFL: he’s stepped in when Sam Bradford’s knee started acting up, and he’s kept the Vikings competitive in most of the games he’s played. Yet he still gets no respect, as vividly shown here in a photo caption in the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Um, guys, That’d be Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, not Case Keenum. The lack of a red practice jersey should have been a dead give away.
(Screen cap from the Star Tribune)

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October 16, 2017

Packers lose Aaron Rodgers to injury in 23-10 loss to the Vikings

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

With Aaron Rodgers under centre, the Green Bay Packers are a threat to any team in the league — without Rodgers, the Packers are just another team. Early in the game at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, the Packers were transformed from top-tier threat to ordinary as Rodgers was injured and had to leave the game. Green Bay backup Brett Hundley was unable to get the team going consistently, and the injuries piled up as the game went on (it might have been quicker to list the un-injured players by the end of the fourth quarter – “Injured Packers were carted off the field as if the driver were getting paid by the body”). If Rodgers is out for an extended period, Green Bay is going to continue to struggle.

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October 10, 2017

Vikings hang on to beat Bears 20-17

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:11

Perhaps fortunately for my blood pressure, the telecast of this game was pre-empted in my area by an NHL game between Toronto and the Chicago Blackhawks, which went into overtime, so I didn’t see more than the last few minutes of the first half. Vikings starting quarterback Sam Bradford had been ineffective through most of that time, and Vikings Twitter was ablaze with demands to sit Bradford and get Case Keenum out on the field. Despite having taken most of the first-team snaps in practice last week, Bradford was clearly not healthy enough to play, and it’s disturbing that the team allowed him to make the start. By the time he left the field, he’d thrown 11 times with only five receptions for 36 yards, and he’d been sacked four times, including one for a safety.

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October 2, 2017

Lions beat Vikings 14-7, in a game where if it could go wrong, it did go wrong (for the Vikings)

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Two very good teams met in Minneapolis on Sunday afternoon, and the outcome was in doubt until the final minutes. Both teams’ defences held up very well, and both teams’ offences were lacking, so the outcome depended on penalties and luck. The officiating squad didn’t throw a lot of penalty flags (including some that were blatant, yet un-noticed), so the game came down to luck. The Vikings were in luck, but it was all bad.

Sam Bradford’s knee is still not back to normal, so Case Keenum got the start again for the third straight game. Keenum is a very good backup quarterback, but he tends to be a one-read player so he sometimes misses big opportunities because he’s watching the receiver he’s already decided to go to and doesn’t see a better chance elsewhere on the field. Against Tampa Bay, that didn’t matter, but against Pittsburgh and on Sunday against Detroit, it mattered a lot.

The Vikings defence played (mostly) lights-out against the Lions. Danielle Hunter started the game off with a bang, notching his first sack of the season on the opening play, and he got another sack during the game. Everson Griffin chipped in with a sack of his own and two tackles for loss. Linval Joseph also got a sack, and linebacker Eric Kendricks got two. On the other hand, it seemed like everyone in purple had a chance for an interception but none of them could hang on to the ball, and there were periods in the game where Lions ball carriers appeared to be coated in Teflon and the Vikings just couldn’t wrap them up on the tackle.

Injuries are always at least a background concern for NFL teams, and the Lions came in to Minneapolis with a long list of injured players, but the worst injury of the day was on a non-contact run by Vikings rookie sensation Dalvin Cook, who may have torn his ACL while trying to make a cut (he fumbled the ball at that point, but I’m certainly not going to hold it against him under the circumstances). He’ll have an MRI on Monday which will clarify the extent of his injury. Sadly, Eric Thompson’s tweet is still as appropriate as ever:

Update: Yes, coach Zimmer confirms that it’s an ACL tear and Cook is going to be put on the injured reserve, ending his season.

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September 25, 2017

Tampa Bay at Minnesota – welcome to the Case Keenum show, starring Case Keenum!

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Minnesota’s starting quarterback is still out with knee issues, so backup Case Keenum got all the practice reps with the first team this week, and it really showed to excellent effect in this game. I noted in my game report last week that Keenum didn’t seem to be able to release the ball as fast as Bradford, which allowed defensive pressure to get to him far too often. That issue was completely cleaned up in this game — although it should be noted that Tampa Bay was missing a number of their defensive starters and suffered a rash of injuries during the game on top of that. The final score of 31-17 makes the game appear closer on the scoreboard than it was on the playing field.

The difference a week of practice will make for an NFL quarterback: Keenum found out about an hour before the Steelers game that he’d be starting, and hadn’t had much chance to work with the starters, and the result was painful to watch. In contrast, having the full week of practice allowed Keenum to develop a good working relationship with wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, both of whom had great games (Diggs – 8 receptions for 173 yards and 2 TDs, Thielen – 5 for 98 yards). Keenum finished with 25 of 33 completions for 369 yards (a career best) with three touchdowns and a passer rating of 142.1. Best supporting actor player for the offense was probably Dalvin Cook, who is playing at a very high level indeed (my favourite infographic during the game showed a comparison between Adrian Peterson’s first three games and Cook, showing Cook ahead on total yards and yards per carry on fewer carries … while the announcer said “nobody is comparing him to Peterson”). Cook’s numbers for the game were 27 rushes for 97 yards and a TD, with five receptions for 72 yards.

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September 18, 2017

Bradford-less Vikings fall to Steelers, 26-9

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

After being the toast of the NFL last week, Minnesota’s starting quarterback Sam Bradford missed several team practices with knee inflammation and was eventually declared unable to play in Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This meant number two quarterback Case Keenum was the starter and freshly promoted-from-the-practice-squad Ryan Sloter was the backup. The oddsmakers were quick to drop the Vikings’ chances from being 5.5 point underdogs to 11 points, and as the game unfolded, you could certainly understand why.

Despite the final score, this game could have been much more competitive, except for Viking penalties (14, but only 12 accepted for 136 yards), particularly defensive pass interference and holding: both Steelers touchdowns were made possible by Viking infractions.

While it’s undeniable that the Vikings’ offensive line has been much improved from last season, they are still not good enough to keep the pocket clean for as long as Keenum needed (Bradford appears to have a faster release than Keenum, so some of the pressure that got to Keenum might not have gotten to Bradford on the same play call). Names that got called far too often by the TV crew were Nick Easton and Mike Remmers — good offensive linemen almost never get mentioned in the course of a game, but linemen who get beat or get penalized get their names called.

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