Making the case for Keenum as the 2017 NFL MVP

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 03: Case Keenum
ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 03: Case Keenum /

The Minnesota Vikings quarterback proving to everyone he is more than a backup in 2017 and has the possibility of being the MVP of the league.

Case Keenum was brought to the Minnesota Vikings on a one-year contract to back be the backup to Sam Bradford in 2017.  Keenum’s contract was only for a year due to the talks of Teddy Bridgewater coming back sometime in 2017.

The Vikings likely didn’t have high expectations for the former member of the Houston Cougars.

When Bradford was injured after Week 1, Keenum was put in a tough spot. Minnesota had high hopes for the playoffs and possibly more this season. So when the reports came out that Keenum would start in Week 2, many people didn’t believe in him.

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Case Keenum
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Case Keenum /

In his first start for the Vikings this year, the quarterback had a tough time against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Keenum and Minnesota’s offense couldn’t get going at all and they only ended up scoring nine points.

However, things would get better for the Vikings quarterback moving forward as he had a big game in Week 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when he threw for over 300 yards. But then Keenum and Minnesota took a step back with a poor performance in Week 4 when they lost to the Detroit Lions.

The Vikings quarterback was just 1-2 in his first three starts and was sent back to the bench when Bradford returned for the Monday night game in Week 5 against the Chicago Bears. During the matchup, Bradford struggled to do much of anything as his his injured knee was clearly still bothersome. He ended up not finishing the game and Minnesota opted to place Keenum back under center after halftime.

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Sam Bradford
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Sam Bradford /

The Vikings backup quarterback was able to lead the team to two touchdown drives that helped Minnesota escape Chicago with a win. Since that game, Keenum has been Minnesota’s starting signal caller and has led the team on an eight-game win streak.

During the eight-game winning streak, the quarterback’s impressive performances have put his name into the 2017 NFL MVP conversation. MVP stands for most valuable player, meaning if a team were to lose a certain player during the year, their season would have a much different outcome.

One of the reasons why Keenum should be considered for the league’s MVP in 2017 is his leadership. He has become the commander of the Vikings offense this season and the quarterback has the team believing in him to make a play when they need it the most.

Last Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, Keenum’s leadership skills were on full display as his efforts were a big part of Minnesota getting a victory in a hostile environment. During the second half, the Vikings quarterback completed all 13 of his passes and threw for the game-winning touchdown to tight end Kyle Rudolph.

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

He easily outplayed last year’s MVP, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, and came up huge during the most critical part of the game.

The second reason for Keenum being in the MVP conversation is the pressure that has been on him to win this season. Not only has he had to deal with the high expectations for 2017 that Minnesota had in the beginning of the year, but the quarterback has also had to ignore the constant fan and coach love for Bridgewater each and every week since Teddy was activated from injured reserve.

Keenum has basically been in a situation where he has to win every week because if he has one bad game, the quarterback knows people are going to begin calling for Bridgewater to start.

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Case Keenum
(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Case Keenum /

Another reason Keenum deserves some MVP consideration this year is what he has been able to do with a Vikings team that is very similar to team that finished 8-8 just one year ago.

2016’s team featured a lot of the same players and were led by Bradford for 15 of their 16 games. However, the team finished with just eight wins last season. This year, Minnesota already has 10 victories as having Keenum under center clearly brings a different element to the offense than what it had with Bradford in 2016.

Keenum is a mobile quarterback and that has helped the Vikings’ offensive line this season because he can scramble and buy more time compared to Bradford, who was pretty much immobile. Plus, Keenum is willing to throw the ball downfield more often, thus giving his receivers more chances to make a play. Bradford always seemed to be more willing to just play it safe rather than take a risk with a deep pass into coverage.

(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) /

Now, many people can make an MVP “case” for other players on Minnesota’s roster this year like wide receiver Adam Thielen, a number of players on the Vikings’ defense, or the team’s group running backs instead of Keenum. However, as good as those players have been in 2017, they are more replaceable when compared to how much Minnesota’s season would be impacted if Keenum were to be lost for a significant amount of time.

The Vikings do have Bridgewater as the backup right now to replace Keenum, but the team is really not sure what they would be getting if Teddy had to be put in a game this year.

Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings /

Minnesota Vikings

He has been out of the sport for almost two years and he hasn’t taken any real hits in a very long time. Minnesota also does not know how cautious he would be with his leg and if it would affect his performance.

Thielen has played a huge part in the Vikings’ success on offense this season, but he is not the team’s most valuable player. Minnesota has other playmakers like receiver Stefon Diggs, tight end Kyle Rudolph, and running back Jerick McKinnon who all are having excellent years in 2017 and could pick up the slack if Thielen was unable to play for some reason.

The Vikings’ defense is the best defensive unit in the NFL right now. Minnesota’s defense is good this season because they have depth, every member plays their role, and no one is out there trying to be a hero. The Vikings have can insert other players on defense and still be able to be dominant.

As for the running backs, Minnesota has already shown that they are replaceable this year as the team lost Dalvin Cook in Week 4. They have made the proper adjustments with McKinnon and Latavius Murray since Cook went down and have been able to find just as much success on the ground this season, if not more.

Next: Vikings receiver makes plays when the team needs them the most in 2017

In the end, if the Vikings didn’t have Keenum starting under center this year, they could easily be in three-way tie at 6-6 with Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers in the NFC North. Keenum has been the biggest the difference-maker for Minnesota in 2017 and a very big reason why they are currently sitting with a 10-2 record.