Dec 29, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel (16) passes against the Detroit Lions in the third quarter at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings win 14-13. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Fans, were you befuddled by the way the Vikings handled the QB situation in 2013? Well you weren’t alone. Matt Cassel couldn’t figure out what was going on either.
“There was no rhyme or reason for it at times,” Cassel said.
The Vikings began 2013 with Christian Ponder as the starter, but went to Cassel early after Ponder struggled.
Despite Cassel’s relatively adept performance in the Vikings’ first victory of the year, the London game against Pittsburgh, Leslie Frazier still wasn’t ready to make Cassel the starter.
And then things got even wackier when Rick Spielman spent $2 million to pick up Josh Freeman after he was cut by the Buccaneers.
Freeman was famously rushed into action with little prep time, and performed dismally in his first start against the Giants.
That first start would be Freeman’s last start, though neither he nor we would know it at the time.
The Vikes initially went back to Christian Ponder, but ultimately were forced to return to Cassel when Ponder got injured.
Cassel again showed that, though he is far from a top-of-the-line quarterback, he was certainly the best of the Vikings’ less-than-ideal options. Even the stubborn Frazier finally had to admit that, and Cassel became the starter for the remainder of the lost season.
So what exactly did prompt Leslie Frazier to continually go away from Cassel as his quarterback despite Cassel’s performance?
Was it misguided loyalty to Ponder? Was he getting orders from Rick Spielman that didn’t make sense? Was his brain taken over by alien worms?
After Frazier’s departure, the former coach made it seem like Spielman was to blame for the debacle. Spielman made it seem like Frazier was to blame.
Whoever was to blame for the mess, the net result was a disaster both on the field and in the perceptions of fans, who became increasingly frustrated with Frazier’s seemingly delusional weekly assertions that Ponder “gave the team the best chance to win.”
The old adage, “if you have more than one quarterback, you don’t have any quarterbacks” seems to apply.
Might I propose a new adage? If your general manager and coach aren’t on the same page, even if you have a quarterback, you may not know it.
2014 will be different. Matt Cassel is clearly the starter, even though the Vikes won’t say it. Christian Ponder could still end up being moved before it’s over. And whoever the Vikings draft will likely not be the kind of QB who is ready to step in right away.
This is Matt Cassel’s team, and the way it sounds from his first post-re-signing interview, he’s more-than-ready to take on the responsibilities that go with that, including being a vocal player in the media.
There should be no more confusion, at least when it comes to the quarterback spot.