Matt Cassel Excelled In One Important Area Last Year


Dec 22, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel (16) throws a pass during the second quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Cassel is a free agent after opting to void his contract, but there are many who think Cassel won’t go anywhere, and in fact probably already has a wink-wink-nudge agreement with the Vikings to return for 2014 on a new deal with an extra year and/or more guaranteed money (only $500,000 of his $3.7 million salary for 2013 was guaranteed, which is probably why he decided to tear up the deal).

Should the Vikings really be so eager to bring back Cassel, a guy who performed relatively well for them in 2013 but is nevertheless far from an ideal quarterback?

Maybe, maybe not. It all depends on how you want to look at it. No, Cassel is not a long-term solution, not at his age and not with his obvious short-comings. Yes, Cassel is a nice back-up/short-term option, especially if you pair him with a young developmental QB.

But what about Cassel’s “fit” in a Norv Turner offense? As we know, Norv favors the vertical game as a means of complementing the power run attack. Deep balls, play action, all that stuff is big for Norv. Would Cassel work in that kind of offense?

Breaking down Cassel’s numbers from 2013 – thank you PFF for doing the honors – there’s at least one stat that jumps out at you and says, “Yes, Matt Cassel would be good in a vertical passing game.”

Matt Cassel wasn’t great in every area in 2013, but there was one area where he excelled: deep ball accuracy. By PFF’s numbers, Cassel ranked sixth overall in the NFL in this area, completing deep passes at a 47.4 percent clip.

Not to make too much of it, but the top six also included the two Super Bowl quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson. Houston’s Case Keenum was #1 at 53.1%. Aaron Rodgers was #2.

We don’t need stats to remember how much better the Vikings’ offense looked with Cassel in the game. A lot of that was just due to his field-stretching ability. Greg Jennings especially benefited from Cassel’s ability to find the one-on-one match-ups down the field and deliver the ball.

Again, Matt Cassel is far from a great QB. His mobility in the pocket is zero. His arm angle causes him to get a lot of balls batted down. He goes into slumps. He turns the ball over way too much.

But, he does do one thing great: he hits the bigger plays down the field with a high success rate. That trait is key to any quarterback hoping to perform in the classic Norv Turner style offense. Cassel would seem to be a very good fit in that offense.

And I have a hunch Cassel will be back at least for 2014. But he won’t be the only new QB added to the roster. Rick Spielman will find someone, maybe someone he wants to sit on the bench for a year or two. And maybe not one of those big name QBs at the top of the draft.

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