Time to give this offseason a Viking clap for New York’s football teams, both of which might have a very purple and gold feel to them this offseason.
Fresh off Sunday’s shocking last-play, last-gasp win over the New Orleans Saints, the Minnesota Vikings are suddenly in-demand. That Pat Shurmur is expected to land the head coaching job of the New York Giants isn’t a surprise as his mentality and experience fit well with the organization. He just has that Giants-feel to this hire.
And across town, the New York Jets must be eyeing Case Keenum’s display on Sunday with more than just a raised eyebrow.
The Vikings quarterback has certainly shown this year that he deserves to be a starter in this league moving forward, having very much earned the right to at least compete for a starting job in 2018. This year he stepped in to replace Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater, more than filling in for either quarterback. Depending on how the offseason shakes out, Keenum might need to go elsewhere to get a chance to start.
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If that happens, the Jets might find in Keenum a player who is ready to come in and take them to the playoffs.
Keenum completed just under 68 percent of his passes this year, throwing for over 3,500 yards with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
For comparison’s sake, his passing yards (in just 15 games) would be the sixth-best season in Jets franchise history. His 22 touchdowns tie Brett Favre’s lone season with the team in 2008.
Numbers that certainly point to being an immediate upgrade for the Jets. Were he to join Gang Green, he’d be with a team that isn’t far away from having an elite defense. The Jets also have plenty of salary cap space to upgrade the offense to give Keenum some weapons.
The Vikings likely will have to make a choice this offseason with Keenum, who is a free agent this offseason (so too is Bradford, who is set to turn 30-years old this year). While neither would be the Jets answer to Joe Namath, either player could absolutely step-in and upgrade the quarterback position.
Keenum would absolutely come in and be able to draw upon this playoff experience to lead a Jets team that is close to being a team playing in January. The fact that he won’t be nearly as big of a salary cap hit as say, a Kirk Cousins, means the Jets will be able to add some other pieces around Keenum.
In much the same way, Shurmur might not be the big name that Giants fans were hoping for but this season has been a shot at redemption for him.
A 9-23 record as head coach of the Cleveland Browns is the only stain on his coaching resume, a record that is easily forgotten when one remembers that it was the Browns, after all. The greatest dumpster fire in the NFL shouldn’t be a blight held against him as this season shows.
In fact, the Browns should enshrine him in their version of the ‘Ring of Honor’ for the simple fact that he managed to win nine games with them over two years.
Using essentially their third-string quarterback, the Vikings offense under Shurmur was solid and efficient. They were second-best in the league in time of possession as well as having done a good job of limiting turnovers.
He has head coaching experience and showed this year when Bradford went down that he was able to adjust the offense and be flexible. Keenum thrived in his offense, a testament to Shurmur’s coaching chops.
In other words, the marks of being a good coach.
Neither Keenum or his offensive coordinator Shurmur in and of themselves can rescue the mess that is the Giants or elevate a Jets team that is now seven full seasons without the playoffs. But both have shown that they are chomping for this opportunity and have earned it, that they both deserve a bite at the big time.
A Big Apple-sized bite no less.