Going into the offseason, the Minnesota Vikings had three quarterbacks on their roster that many considered to be, at the very least, solid options. They had Case Keenum, who was coming off of the best season of his career in leading the Vikings to the 2017 NFC Championship Game. They had Sam Bradford, who looked amazing in the 2017 opener before getting injured and giving way to Keenum. And they had Teddy Bridgewater, who fought back from a gruesome knee injury to get back on the field and had endeared himself to many of the Vikings’ faithful despite not putting up huge statistical numbers.
Yet, when the time came to give out a big quarterback contract in March of 2018, Vikings’ GM Rick Spielman, head coach Mike Zimmer, and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo decided that the answer to that question was “none of the above.” Instead, they wined, dined, and eventually gave the first fully-guaranteed contract in the NFL’s free agency era to Kirk Cousins. Cousins had bided his time in Washington, playing under the franchise tag for two consecutive years, but was never really embraced by the coaching staff in the nation’s capital. . .or the majority of the fan base, for that matter.
It’s still early in the season, but to this point it appears that the people that run the Vikings might kind of sort of have an idea about what they’re doing.
We’ll skip Bridgewater, who hasn’t seen the field in 2018 because he’s backing up Drew Brees in New Orleans.
In Arizona, Bradford started the first three games of the season for the Cardinals (who the Vikings will see this coming Sunday). In those three games, he threw for a total of 400 yards, including a 90-yard performance in a shutout loss against the Rams. He was pulled late in the team’s Week 3 loss to Chicago in favor of rookie Josh Rosen. In each of the last two games, not only has Bradford not played, he hasn’t even been active. That means that not only was he behind Rosen on the depth chart, he’s now behind Mike Glennon.
Yes, Mike Glennon. But at least he’s getting about $20 million this year to not dress on game day.
In Denver, things haven’t been much better for Keenum. He got off to a decent enough start, throwing three touchdown passes (and three interceptions) in a season-opening victory over Seattle. Then, he had no touchdown passes in Week 2.
Or Week 3.
Or Week 4.
He finally got back on track against the Jets on Sunday with two more scoring throws, but the Broncos are now riding a three-game losing streak after winning their first two games.
Cousins, on the other hand, has been pretty good.
With Brees yet to play in Week 5 action, Cousins is currently second in the NFL in passing yardage (behind Jared Goff), and is currently completing over 71% of his passes, despite being one of the most pressured quarterbacks in the National Football League so far this season. He’s thrown 11 touchdown passes through the team’s first five games, and has thrown only two interceptions, both of which came on passes that really should have been caught by their intended receiver. He’s on pace to shatter just about every Vikings’ single-season passing record.
I understand that Cousins gets the benefit of an incredibly talented supporting case, with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs comprising the best receiving duo in the NFL and Kyle Rudolph continuing to do his thing as well. Keenum and Bradford undoubtedly benefited from having those players to work with as well. However, Cousins was good before he got the opportunity to work with this group of skill position players. The Vikings knew that Cousins’ skills would be even more enhanced by getting to work with those guys. Keenum and Bradford, on the other hand, got the benefit of playing with those players as well but couldn’t get the Vikings to the promised land.
I can’t imagine that there are a lot of holdouts left in the pro-Keenum or pro-Bradford or pro-Bridgewater camps after the first five weeks of this season. However, at this early juncture, it sure does look like the Vikings have made the right decision.