Mike Zimmer has a secret about his quarterback choice, but he wasn’t willing to share it Monday. He plans to inform his entire team first on Wednesday.
Will it be Case Keenum? Or Teddy Bridgewater? Or — cue dramatic music here — some mysterious guy named Case Bridgewater?
Winter Park has doubled as a soap opera set fairly often over the years, and while Case Bridgewater would make a perfect soap opera character, this situation feels different. Uncertainty at the most important position hasn’t mushroomed into a paralyzing distraction.
Quarterback controversy suggests uproar. The Vikings are dealing with a quarterback quandary. That might sound like semantics, but inside the locker room players seem oblivious to external hysteria over how Zimmer intends to handle his depth chart at quarterback.
The outside view: Team Teddy vs. Team Keenum.
The inside view: We love Teddy, we love Case, let’s keep winning.
“It shows the leadership we have in this locker room,” receiver Adam Thielen said. “It shows the quality of players and character that we have in this locker room. We have a lot of unselfish guys that just want to win. When you’re winning, things are good.”
Winning makes everything taste better, which is an argument Keenum supporters rightfully make. The Vikings are winning with Keenum as the starter, so why change something that isn’t broken? Those who support Bridgewater believe he offers a higher ceiling and better chance to win in the postseason.
This point-counterpoint debate might divide a fan base, but inside Winter Park walls, everything seems unified.
“We have a lot of guys that not only love to play the game but prepare extremely well and don’t worry about the big picture,” Thielen said.
This is the type of big-picture decision that keeps coaches awake all night. Zimmer’s tenure could be defined by how the quarterback situation evolves this season and beyond.
Quarterback controversies can become divisive and awkward. Remember 2013? The organization’s game of musical chairs at quarterback turned into chaotic nonsense.
The Vikings, to this point, seem unfazed by this current delicate situation. That’s a sign of their maturity and also a cohesiveness that doesn’t always exist in NFL locker rooms.
“I think we have a great locker room,” Zimmer said. “We’ve got a great bunch of guys here that know how to be team guys, play together, work together. That’s really important and Case is no different. Really, you can say that about a lot of our guys.”
Keenum showed much class and grace after Sunday’s game at Washington. He played spectacularly for 2½ quarters before throwing back-to-back ugly interceptions that put a damper on his outing.
His performance wasn’t clean, but he front-loaded enough quality throws to lead the Vikings to another win and keep momentum charging forward.
Keenum’s postgame news conference included a question about the return of “fan favorite” Teddy Bridgewater. Keenum didn’t even pause.
“He’s my favorite, too,” he said. “I may have a Teddy Bridgewater jersey at home. I’m a big fan of his.”
He wasn’t being flippant. He sounded genuinely sincere in his affection for Bridgewater and the emotion of seeing him back on the sideline in uniform. Keenum doesn’t appear bothered or intimidated by the prospect of a quarterback change. That shows a remarkable level of self-awareness that stems from him being in similar situations throughout his career.
Keenum isn’t alone on an island though. His teammates profess their admiration for him and the way he has performed and handled himself in relief of Sam Bradford.
None of it comes across as people picking sides. A positive vibe exists in a situation that otherwise could be viewed as awkward. That’s refreshing to see.
“It doesn’t matter who the quarterback is,” receiver Jarius Wright said. “I’ll tell you every week, no matter who the quarterbacks is, we have to go out and catch the ball.”
Zimmer presumably will announce his quarterback Wednesday. Or at least tell his players privately. Based on their demeanor to date, they will treat the news as business as usual.
Chip Scoggins • firstname.lastname@example.org