Here’s what we know about the Vikings quarterback situation: Teddy Bridgewater has been activated to the 53-man roster. Sam Bradford is on injured reserve, meaning he can’t come back for the duration of the regular season. Kyle Sloter remains on the active roster but is now the team’s No. 3 quarterback. Case Keenum is still the starter Sunday at Washington, with Bridgewater as his backup.
The events of this week provided a decent amount of clarity, but one big question remains unanswered: When will Teddy Bridgewater make his return to the field as the Vikings’ No. 1 quarterback?
The Vikings are 6-2 and leading the NFC North by two games over the Lions and Packers. Let’s keep that context in mind as we try to answer the question about when (and if) Teddy will return. Let’s go game-by-game:
*At Washington: The only way Bridgewater takes over as the No. 1 guy Sunday is if Keenum gets hurt. I can’t see the Vikings pulling Keenum even if he plays poorly. He’s earned that much respect and he has also tended to improve this season as games progress.
*Vs. L.A. Rams: Even if the Vikings lose at Washington and Keenum doesn’t play well, it seems logical that Keenum plays again against the Rams at U.S. Bank Stadium. Remember, Keenum has led the team to four straight wins as of now (one in relief, three as a starter) and ranks fifth in the NFL this season in Total QBR. He hasn’t just played well for a backup. He’s played well, period. So this is a case again where Teddy probably only plays if Keenum gets hurt.
*at Detroit: If the Vikings lose their next two games and Keenum stumbles, I could see the Vikings making a switch to Bridgewater for this key NFC North game. The Lions have an easy second-half schedule and already defeated the Vikings in Minneapolis — a game in which the Keenum-led offense produced just seven points. They are the biggest division threat right now with Aaron Rodgers hurt. However, if the Vikings do as much as split the next two games with Keenum performing adequately, it stands to reason he gets the start in this game.
*at Falcons: If the Vikings lose two of their next three, this could be Teddy time.
*at Panthers, vs. Bengals, at Packers, vs. Bears: Here’s where the Vikings would really have a decision to make if they haven’t yet inserted Bridgewater as the starter. If the Vikings manage to maintain at least a two-game division lead up to this point and Keenum is still playing at his current level, I could picture the Vikings riding Keenum the rest of the way and into the playoffs. If he stumbled at any point during the final four games and the race tightened, Mike Zimmer would have a big decision to make that late in the year.
So basically it comes down to this: I don’t expect Bridgewater to take over as the primary QB in either of the next two games unless Keenum gets hurt, but Keenum’s play in the next two to three games could have a big impact on whether he keeps his job or whether Bridgewater takes over. Later in the season it gets more complicated, but the Vikings’ QB situation is almost always complicated. Let’s not rule out a late December QB switch if that’s what the Vikings think gives them the best chance to win.
What if both Keenum and Bridgewater are injured at some point during the regular season? It’s Sloter time.
What if both Keenum and Bridgewater are injured and/or ineffective but the Vikings still reach the postseason? Hey, Bradford is eligible to come off IR for the start of the playoffs.