Tnews that broke Sunday morning that Sam Bradford wouldn’t start as first thought. Vikings fans were fairly confident that they could come away with a win over the Steelers but hopes sank knowing Bradford was out. I’d like this to be a setup to story about Case Keenum coming off the bench and being a hero but that didn’t happen.
This loss isn’t the fault of Case Keenum, but he certainly didn’t positively affect the game. Keenum doesn’t have the arm, the accuracy or ability read and call that Bradford does. It is evident that the Vikings offense can’t operate with without the threat of Bradford’s bigger arm and pin-point accuracy.
Again, it isn’t Keenum’s fault he’s not Bradford. However, there were plenty of key passes that were within Keenum’s ability that he didn’t complete. Keenum also didn’t get all the first-team snaps in practice this week and for a backup that’s key. Yes, backups are paid to be ready to go at any moment but in the NFL reps matter.
Not that everything Keenum did was horrible, he didn’t turn the ball over and generally took care of the ball. The offensive line certainly didn’t help Keenum any.
The unit on the team that may be most responsible for this loss is the offensive line. Keenum had a Steeler in his face nearly every snap. Even if Bradford played he may have also had a rough go of it if the offensive line play was the same. One thing to note is part of the issue with the offensive line could be the quarterback. I will review tap later in the week but I believe Keenum held the ball too long many times. The quarterback is also responsible for making some of the calls at the line and making sure the center is calling the right protection. Perhaps this an area that Bradford is more skilled at.
Vikings expressed quite a lot of frustration with the defense and the penalties and boneheaded plays (Brian Robison, I’m looking at you). I agree they could have played a much tighter game and significantly fewer penalties. However, they were facing one of the top wide receiver groups and running backs in the league and also a future Hall of Famer at quarterback. The defense was on the field far too much. They could have played better and given up fewer points but it’s hard to stonewall a good offense when your defense is tired.
This game was doomed from the beginning when Bradford was ruled out. The Steelers are going to be a playoff team this year, hard to beat them without your starting quarterback and on their home field. The Steelers win something in the order of 73% of their home games over the last three years. Even with Bradford, this game would have been in doubt. We found out that the offensive line is still very much a work in progress. We found out that Keenum isn’t a suitable backup. The defense disappointed but discipline is easier to fix than simple lack of talent.