With the preseason opener less than a week away, the backup quarterback competition is heating up. As has been the case in recent memory, an unproven veteran, Sean Mannion, is facing off against a younger contender, Kyle Sloter. Many fans are rooting for Sloter to earn the backup job, but there’s a big reason to jump on the Mannion bandwagon.
Sean Mannion is eerily similar to one of the makers of the Minneapolis Miracle. Yes, I’m talking about Case Keenum. During 2017 training camp, the newly acquired journeyman was also battling with an exciting young quarterback, Taylor Heinicke. Many fans were outright disappointed to see the Vikings sign Keenum, as they were hot for Heinicke. And who wouldn’t be? The feeling was that Keenum already had his chance, and Heinicke had a higher ceiling.
Much like Mannion is trying to do this year, Keenum put together a solid preseason and his experience earned him the backup job. When then-starter Sam Bradford went down, disappointment turned to utter despair. Someone even took the time to make a remix of “Hooked on a Feeling,” and change it to “Screwed With Case Keenum.” Boy was he wrong. After a few weeks, the pessimist had to make a new song: “We All Love Case Keenum.”
If Mannion passes up Sloter during the preseason, which I believe he will, there will likely be a similar reaction. Fear not… if Mannion becomes the backup, he’ll likely never see the field this year (fingers crossed). That said, his experience with the Super Bowl runner-up Rams would be valuable. Don’t forget, Case Keenum also came from the Rams.
Through the first week or so of training camp, Mannion has the edge over Sloter. It’s hard to say why, but Mike Zimmer has chosen to give more of the second-team reps to Mannion. Both backups have had their miscues, but Mannion looked more confident at camp this week.
If I were Rick Spielman, I’d side with history and roll with the veteran. It might just lead to a Minneapolis Miracle.