With Bridgewater back, Keenum returns to QB limbo

From ESPN - November 14, 2017

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Case Keenum took the news of losing his job as well as one might expect.

It was November 2016, and the quarterback had just led the Los Angeles Rams to a 9-6 win over the New York Jets to snap a four-game losing streak. The team eyed the playoffs at 4-5 but was struggling mightily on offense, ranking 31st in yards per game and last in points per game. Two of those four victories came without scoring a touchdown

Former Rams coach Jeff Fisher remained loyal to Keenum for as long as he could, often deflecting blame from his quarterback for the team's losses. But things were not getting better, and a switch was inevitable after Keenum threw nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions in nine games, coupled with the second-lowest passer rating of any quarterback who had not already lost his job.

Entering Week 11 last season, Keenum was benched for Jared Goff, the future of the franchise the Rams traded up 14 spots to land with the No. 1 overall pick.

Fisher and Goff praised Keenum for the class with which he handled the situation. That did not mean it was one he agreed with.

"Honestly, I was not happy," Keenum told reporters last November. "I want to play. That's why I play football ... to be the quarterback, to be the guy with the ball in his hands. With that being said, I trust Coach Fisher. I trust the coaches and their decision. I am a leader and a captain on this team. So I am going to do my job. And my job is whatever they tell me my job is."

That statement sums up the player who is responsible for leading the Vikings to a 7-2 record ahead of a showdown with his former team this Sunday -- the fire of a competitor mixed with the composure of someone who knows his role.

Since Week 2, Keenum has essentially owned his job despite never officially being named the outright starter. When it was evident that Sam Bradford's knee injury was going to be a long-term problem, Keenum was penciled in as his indefinite replacement.

But Keenum knew another shakeup was on the horizon. Just as with Goff, it's expected that Teddy Bridgewater will eventually take over as the starter.

Mike Zimmer said Monday that he knows who his quarterback will be against the Rams. Whether Keenum, who is 5-2 in his starts, has done enough to hold onto his job for another week is up in the air.

In his first five years in the league, Keenum battled through some less-than-ideal situations with the Texans and Rams to prove he can be a starting quarterback, only to find himself pulled at various points and thrown back into the fire when things were not going well.

His journey is set in a constant state of limbo, his position as a perennial placeholder who maintains order until teams have the guy they want for the job.

Keenum knows the drill. It was not what he expected in Los Angeles. It's what he knew he was signing up for when he came to Minnesota.

How he handled the situation in Los Angeles as the Rams went on to lose their last seven games after he was pulled is evidence of why the Minnesota Vikings thought he'd be a good fit when they signed him as a backup in the offseason.


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