Matt Cassel: What’s the point?


I’ve pretty much run this topic into the ground, but I haven’t been able to touch on it since I was on vacation and the Vikings won in London. Anyone who thinks Matt Cassel should be the starter for the Vikings going forward, and believes he should be because the Vikings are a better team with him at the helm is flagrantly wrong.

Let me highlight a few things based on their talent level and skill set first. Matt Cassel won last week, yes. The Vikings defense finally got a stop late in the game, where they hadn’t in the previous two weeks against Cleveland and Chicago. It was the first time this season that Vikings’ opposition scored less than 30 points. Neither Christian Ponder nor Matt Cassel play defense.

I think it’s valuable to look at the teams both quarterbacks have squared off against this season. Christian Ponder has faced teams that are 6-4 against teams that aren’t the Vikings. Cassel’s win came over a hapless Steelers team that hasn’t won a game yet. It would be a surprise to listen to local fans to find out that Christian Ponder’s QBR against Cleveland (a measure of a quarterback’s contribution to a team’s chance of winning) was higher than Cassel’s against Pittsburgh. Then again, you would think that being competitive against a first place team (Cleveland) would take a little more skill than being competitive against a terrible, winless team (Pittsburgh).

Oh, it has been pointed out to me that the Cleveland game was Ponder’s best this season. He had 9 starts last season that would have surpassed Cassel’s QBR of 52 last year. Matt Cassel had a total QBR of 36.4 in Kansas City last year. In fact. when he went to Kansas City, the highest QBR he ever posted for a season was 52. While I may have cherry-picked Ponder’s best game this season, it certainly wasn’t a fluke.

And while you may say that Kansas City was a tough place for Matt Cassel to play, because all they had was a good running back with few targets to throw to, I say…. what was the difference between the Chiefs and Vikings, in that case? I would argue that after Percy Harvin was injured, Cassel had better targets to throw to than Ponder did. Sure, the Vikings had Peterson, but were the offenses that substantially different? Are they that different now, with Alex Smith running things? Why are the Chiefs playing so much better? Is Alex Smith really that good?

On that same note, in response to those who say that Christian Ponder doesn’t open up the field for Adrian Peterson, I say Adrian Peterson nearly broke an NFL record for yards last year. The field is plenty open.

From the perspective of team building, I don’t understand the yearning for Matt Cassel. At best, he gives the Vikings the same chance to win as Christian Ponder. In truth, it’s just a matter of time before Cassel proves how bad he is. Will Ponder haters eat crow and call for him to come back?  Probably not, of course, because that’s not how people work. Christian Ponder is still in his second full year as a starter, and he showed significant improvement last year. Why focus so intently on giving up on Ponder when the team has so many other obvious holes?

29 thoughts on “Matt Cassel: What’s the point?

  1. First blind sports analyst I’ve ever heard from……what games have you been hearing, you obviously haven’t been watching?

    • I think ponder wrote the article. lol. Its obvious this guy is clueless. You play who is on your schedule. Everybody thought the browns were a push over. Ponder played in that game. Why do all the ponder lovers talk about last year ? The players know who gives them the best chance to win. they have spoken.

  2. I disagree with your love of Ponder. He’s a QB who tends to have missle lock on one receiver and little in the way of arm strengh! I watched Cassel last week zing the ball with authority and from all indications he has the respect and backing of his teammates ,especially AP!! I do agree that the Vikings problems are deeper then just the QB play. Leslie Frazier is going to sink or swim with his Off. and Def. coordinators.

  3. Stats aside….Matt Cassel passed the eye test…where he just looked a lot more comfortable and deliver the ball downfield to his receivers without throwing a pick. Ponder had a tendency to make some great throws and then miss throws that should be routine for an NFL quarterback (i.e. he missed a wide open Greg Jennings on a routine screen pass that could of helped the Vikes run down the clock against the Browns)….I am just saying.

  4. Wow, If Ponder would have hit a few wide open receivers in all three games he played in our defense wouldn’t have been on the field as long.and they could have been wins instead of losses. Ponder takes too long with his reads, Doesn’t step up in the pocket enough and that’s why he is sacked so much. He seldom hits the receivers in stride so the receiver can maneuver after the catch for more yards. Cassel’s throws had more zip to them (you must have missed the pass to Jennings which netted 70 yards and a TD.) I’m not just knocking Ponder for our bad start because as a team we have played bad but…… Cassel is an improvement over Ponder right now and he should be the starter.

  5. Wow I have never seen an attempt to pass off trolling as journalism. Usually its 14 year old kids trying to stir up some excitement after mommy took away their Xbox 360 privileges.

  6. The point would be that Ponders terrible interceptions were killing the team. The point would be that either he couldn’t or wasn’t trusted to get Greg Jennings involved and his leadership is uninspired. The point is that he is terribly inconsistent. The point is, his timing in the offense is inconsistent at best and he is late in getting the ball out of his hands consistently. The point is he has no pocket presence and little poise, even in wins, including last year. The point is, he doesn’t read defenses and stares down receivers leading to pick 6’s. The point is that Percy Harvin, in premadonna fashion, forced his way out of town to get away from Ponder (and Musgrave). The point is, veterans have rallied around Cassel including Allen, Peterson and Jennings. The point is, we know these things about Ponder. Cassel has shown flashes of competence in the past. Frasier is coaching for his job and a change was needed. Pick your point. Your take is weak. Try watching the games.

  7. Someone forgot to mention the interception ratio. Give aways is what lost all of the other games. Time of possesion is the best defense.

  8. To all the people that disagree, are calling this a troll attempt, or think this guy didn’t actually watch the game…did you miss all the off target throws, especially the deep balls in the first half? Here’s some facts:
    1) Look at Cassel’s last few seasons in KC, he’s not a franchise caliber Quarterback. If he was that good he would have won the starting job this preseason. He did look more poised in the pocket and may be marginally better at this time, but he’s at his ceiling and won’t get any better. Ponder has more potential…if he can’t realize it we need to draft.
    2) Cassel is not even more accurate than Ponder, a lot of his throws were off target and it was only luck that he didn’t throw an int, a pick six, and lose a fumble. This is a guy who was upgraded by Alex Smith!! Most of his throws were under 10 yards, in fact the only great throw he had was Jennings in the endzone.
    3) Who wants to see Cassel as our QB for the next 5 years? If we go with him he’s a placeholder at best and we may have a decent season but won’t be a championship caliber team. If ponder isn’t the answer I feel we have to draft a QB next year, might as well give Ponder a few more games to prove himself, or see what MBT’s got.
    4) I don’t disagree with the critiques of Ponder here, he has been too locked in to receivers, streaky with his accuracy, not seeing/reading the field as well he needs to. He needs to improve or we need a new QB. However, Cassel isn’t much better.
    5) Ponder hasn’t played all that well but has shown flashes of greatness. This is the first year he’s had all the tools needed to be successful. Let’s give him a few more games to see if he can be the guy instead of turning over the offense to someone I rate as a capable backup at best.

    • And by your comments you seem to not think much of Alex Smith either.
      Did you know he is 21-5 since the 2011 season? He wins and I hate to break it to you but the NFL is all about the W. Ponder can’t seem to post many of those and without AP he would likely have no wins at all.

      This of it this way.
      Teams with +1 in the turn over column have a 70% or better chance of winning. Teams with +2 have an 85% or better chance of winning. Teams with +3 win nearly 100% of games.

      How many turnovers does Ponder have per game? 2+? So we have an 85% + chance of losing every time Ponder has taken the field this season and on two occasions nearly 100% chance of losing?

      So if you like those odds I highly recommend staying away from the casino or the sports book.

      • If you base all your statistics off a sample size of 3 you best stay away from the casino and sports book as well. Not defending Ponder here as so far hasn’t been very good…just saying that Cassel’s not really an upgrade so what’s the point. Compare last year’s stats if you don’t believe me.

        Alex Smith is decent, but if he’s so good why did 49ers replace him? The only point I was making here is Smith isn’t elite but an upgrade from Cassel. If it were Alex Smith as our backup Quarterback I’d say let’s make him the starter, but Cassel? Not so much.

        • @Ben
          The reason why Smith was replaced (injury) and then traded is simple: money. The way Kaepernick played last year earned him a starting role – I don’t think anyone will question that. With that being said, keep Kaepernick, trade Smith, and you save >$10 mil. a year.

  9. Ben C-
    Cassel’s history doesn’t change who Ponder is. Ponder has had ample chances. Flashes of greatness? That is a reach. Cassel may turn out to be who he has been in the past but that doesn’t make Ponder anything more than he has been. So far this season, Cassel has 0 interceptions and is 1-0, luck or not. How does that compare to Ponder this year? The coach wants to win versus Carolina. The veterans want to win versus Carolina. This is all that matters until the next game.

    • I’d personally rather see us decide on a QB for the future than just worry about next game. Ponder played well to close out last season and he had junk for receivers so he deserves the shot this year. I’d like to give him more than 3 games before I completely write him off. I don’t think Cassel is the future so if Ponder is indeed written off, I’d rather give MBT a chance and/or look for a QB in the 2014 draft.

  10. Wow you get paid to write this crap? Ponder is a joke. It amazes me he is still there. Is Cassel better? No they both suck. We need a QB, I’m no sports analyst, it’s called common sense.

  11. The truth of the matter is Ponder is just as responsible for the 0-3 record as the defense. Though the Steelers aren’t a good club overall, they still have a tough defense, minus the takeaways, and Matt Cassel was able to dissect them and take advantage of them when they loaded the box to stop AP. That is something that Ponder has been unable to do so far this year, and with the weapons he now has in the passing game, it’s inexcusable. He’s also turning the ball over way too often, putting our suspect defense in bad situations. Cassel didn’t do that. He was very decisive with the football and drove his passes down the field with confidence. Ponder has been very streaky and at shaky early in the season, something we shouldn’t be seeing going into his 3rd year. Either he needs to get it together next week vs. Carolina or the Vikings need to replace him with Cassel for the remainder of the year and draft someone else in next year’s draft. I would give Ponder the first half. If he struggles, he goes to the bench and Cassel takes over.

    • That is a fair assessment if Ponder struggles another game pull him. I’d almost rather see what MBT’s got then Cassel again but I supposed we could give Cassel the shot….all of last year and preseason though he hasn’t looked very good.

      “He was very decisive with the football and drove his passes down the field with confidence.”
      Did you miss the deep throw to Cordarrelle that was off target and almost picked? Did you miss the other throws that were completely missed the receiver? Did you miss the throw directly to the Defensive Back that was only not a pick six because the DB dropped an easy one? Did you miss the fumble? He played an OK game and got lucky.

  12. Everyone grow up…this is business
    A few scuffs in the line up but…
    The D needs to step up
    The O Line needs to step up
    Ponder can’t read (fast enough)
    Cassel is Cassel
    The only thing that matters is a win
    And the players want to win
    This is the entertainment biz
    But the players want to win
    Ponder will not be a franchise QB
    Cassel will not be a franchise QB
    But whoever wins…will win…in the short term
    Frazier has a difficult job ahead
    The rest of it is (fan)atical opinion
    Ain’t NFL great?

  13. Ryan, do two things for me man. Stay on vacation for the rest of the NFL season and find a new occupation. You couldn’t break down a teams abilities if you tried!!

  14. Does everyone forget how long it took for Ponder to get a reception to his own wedding?
    He may get the job done eventually but I doubt it will be with the Vikings. The team is not supporting him at this time. If you don’t think that is important to consider at game time, consider a Wal-mart job. (I’m talking to Leslie here)
    The Vikings right now remind me of the lions of 20 years ago. Let’s not push AP into an early retirement. We could try to pay back Dallas for the Herschel Walker deal. As much as i hate to say it.. AP and Ponder are both hurting us right now. Going into any game with both of them as starters makes it easier for an opposing defense to figure out what we are capable of. The running game is not helping the passing game.. We need a quarterback for that.

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