Jun 17, 2014; Eden Prairie, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer speaks with quarterback Matt Cassel (16) during practice at Winter Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Like It Or Not, Negative Assessments Of Matt Cassel Are Valid

Another day, another poll/list ranking Matt Cassel among the worst starting QBs in the NFL.

Wall Street Cheat Sheet had a go at the Vikings’ presumptive #1 last week, ranking Cassel the second-worst starting QB in the league. Now it’s ESPN’s turn.

Andrew Krammer passed along the results of a poll asking 26 NFL GMs, coaches and scouts to rank the 32 starting QBs. Though Cassel didn’t come out quite as bad as in the Wall Street Cheat Sheet piece, he still ranked just 28th out of 32.

Krammer said of the Cassel result:

There was little debate with Matt Cassel, who had a 3-3 record as a starter for the Vikings last season, not counting a Dec. 1 win over Chicago in which he entered after halftime for Christian Ponder. Voters placed Jacksonville’s Chad Henne and Buffalo’s E.J. Manuel above Cassel, who has proven to be a successful journeyman, but inconsistent nonetheless. Cassel hasn’t played more than nine games in a season since 2010 and will be challenged by rookie Teddy Bridgewater when the Vikings open training camp on July 24.

All this hating on Cassel may rub some fans the wrong way, but like it or not, the criticisms are valid. Look at the whole of Cassel’s career and you see exactly what the ESPN poll and the other negative pieces suggest: that Matt Cassel is at best a borderline NFL starter.

The stats tell the story. Cassel ranks just 21st in career passer rating among active QBs with at least 1500 pass attempts. He’s 21st in career yards-per-completion. 22nd in adjusted yards-per-attempt. 22nd in completion percentage. 17th in interception percentage.

There are very few areas in which Cassel excels. There are several areas, including ball security and overall accuracy, in which Cassel struggles. There is a reason Matt Cassel didn’t have teams beating down his door this year when he opted out and briefly became a free agent.

None of this should really be news to anyone, and it certainly isn’t news to the Vikings, who knew exactly what they were getting when they retained Cassel’s services this offseason: a competent professional to hold down the job until Teddy Bridgewater is ready.

“Competent” is really the best word to describe Cassel. He is a pro who will prepare himself the right way, who will provide solid leadership in the locker room and in the huddle, and who will generally not embarrass himself on the field.

Which isn’t to say that Matt Cassel is incapable of doing good things for the Vikings. You just have to be careful about your definition of “good.”

If you’re expecting Cassel to put together a great run of games and lead the Vikings on a surprise playoff charge ala Gus Frerotte in 2008…well, I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Cassel frankly is not as good as Frerotte in ’08 when he took over for the inept Tarvaris Jackson (and remember that Frerotte had a better defense and a younger Adrian Peterson).

I’m not sure Cassel right now is even as solid a starter as Brad Johnson when he took over for Daunte Culpepper in 2005 and led the Vikings on an improbable 7-2 run that almost ended with a playoff berth.

For Viking fans hoping that 2014 will bring success and maybe even a surprise playoff appearance, the best hope is that Teddy Bridgewater will catch on early, take over the starting job and become a genuine rookie phenom.

That seems like a long shot. But it’s an even longer shot that Matt Cassel will overcome his well-known inadequacies and lead the Vikings charging into the postseason. The best we should expect from Cassel is a competent, professional, non-embarrassing place-holder performance. And if the Vikings make it to 8-8 in Mike Zimmer’s inaugural season, I would call that a successful campaign.

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Tags: Matt Cassel Minnesota Vikings

  • Joe Ecv Crosman Bittner

    Matt Cassel is a joke. Anyone with a pair of eyes knows this.

    • Todd Robinson

      Norv Turner doesn’t know it!

      • Joe Ecv Crosman Bittner

        Obviously you sir are a moron. You mean to tell me, that you believe the “three way qb competition in camp” line?

        • Todd Robinson

          Matt Cassel is a joke and I am a moron? Is this how you intelligently defend your position? Name calling? When game 1 begins and Matt Cassel does start, will you be man enough to post who the real joke and moron is…………sir?

          • trinity

            Honestly just because Cassel may get the week one start doesn’t prove he doesn’t suck. It just means the rookie isn’t ready yet. Cassel can start all he wants. He’ll still be one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the league.

          • Joe Ecv Crosman Bittner

            Thank you. Somebody with a little sense

          • Todd Robinson

            To me,Matt Cassel has shown that he can suck and that he can put together a string of good games. With Norv Turner in and Musgrave gone, lets just hope we get more of the latter.
            Also Norv sees something in Cassel that others do not. It was reported that he wanted him last year,as well. I think he’s the one Trinity!

  • Jeff New

    The only thing ‘inept’ here is your terrible assessment.

  • trinity

    You’re completely right Zinski. The reality is that Matt Cassel is one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the nfl. Bridgewater cannot get ready fast enough.

  • Jake

    I feel like you’ve written this story already, several times. We know all this, we’ve heard this over and over and over already. You’re not saying anything new. In fact all you’re doing is wasting all our time. As usual, you’re a shitty journalist Zinski.

  • Dmi Dru

    TB will beat Matt Cassel out for starting job…Mark my word trust

  • Justin Weishaar

    Just further proof. Srart Bridgewater

  • Cool Jack

    First off ,it figures Zinski would write this ….Turner likes Cassel and I have more faith in him and his coaching than some hack writer…you make some valid stats,that others have stated,but your comparisons are misleading and unfounded….speaking of longshots,what are the odds of you sticking your foot in your mouth again…pretty high …eh?……SKOL VIKINGS…!

  • Bob T

    I still think they may go 2 Q.b.s when they cut to 53at end of August. McKinnon can do the Joe Webb 3rd stringer thing. With that said Cassel, will run the offense as the experienced, don’t get hurt, starting week 1 Q.B. Matt does not get hurt!!! He is THAT smart. Grab a 7th rounder for CP7 and let Teddy come in when he is ready, and only when he is ready. Trust Cassel and the Viking staff. SKOL VIKINGS

    • kyle

      They’ll have all 3 quarterbacks when they open against the rams. Quite a few teams still carry 3 quarterbacks the way it is, but i believe some quarterback will get hurt early in the season and Ponder is traded for a 6th rounder.

      • Bob T.

        Just trying to build more cap space getting a trade early for Ponder. I like the possibility of a 6th rounder. I still think Cassel plays smart and unhurt. I am working on tickets for the Ram game. Rams did well in the off season also and at home will be tough.

        • kyle

          Rams defense will be tough, for sure, but I don’t think their offense has the firepower to keep up with the Vikings. They have Zac Stacy and Tavon Austin. None of their outside receivers worry me a bit. If you look at the Vikings offense, you’ll see playmakers everywhere; AP, Jennings, Patteraon, Rudolph, Wright. Unless the Rams defensive line harasses Cassel/Bridgewater all game long, this could turn out to be a long day for the rams. The next 4 games worry me the most.

  • Zack Selzman

    According to the stats that were quoted in the article Cassel is at worst 23rd, the only reason he ranked 26th is unreasonable exuberance about the possibility of some of the 9 remaining qbs improving. What you absolutely do know about Cassel is that he absolutely won’t regress to being the 24th best quarterback… but if he has a good year, could easily be in the top 15, as he has in the past. He is a game manager, but has enough experience to perform that role well. He took a team that was 2-7-1 without him and went 3-3. Not stellar, but not 28th.