Posted September 27, 2013

Matt Cassel to start at quarterback for Vikings against Steelers in London

Minnesota Vikings, NFC North


Those Minnesota Vikings fans eager to see what their team’s offense would look like with Matt Cassel at quarterback instead of Christian Ponder are about to get their wish. As the Vikings prepare to face the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL’s annual London experiment,  the news came out that Ponder was suffering from a rib injury and might not be able to go against Pittsburgh’s defense.

And on Friday morning, Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier confirmed that Ponder has a broken rib too near to his heart to make playing safe under any circumstances. Frazier said that Ponder had a CT scan Monday, which revealed the damage Ponder suffered in last Sunday’s loss to the Cleveland Browns.

“They just made a decision for what’s best for me and my health and this team,” Ponder said. “It stinks, but it is what it is. But I’ll be back for Carolina.”

Ponder, who has completed 59 of 100 passes for 691 yards, two touchdowns, and five interceptions this season, said that he’s not worried about Cassel taking his job if he plays well. The Vikings signed Cassel to a two-year, $7.4 million contract in March to back up Ponder.

“I hope he plays well,” Ponder said. “This team needs him to play well.”

Cassel first hit the scene when he played decently for the 11-5 New England Patriots in 2008 after Tom Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first game of the season. He was able to parlay that into a six-year, $63 million contract with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009, but was cut by the team after the 2012 season.

Interestingly enough, it was Brady who first broke the news that Cassel might start. On Wednesday, Brady was asked about his relationships with his former backup quarterbacks.

“Yeah, we have a great relationship and a very close relationship,” Brady said. “The backup quarterback, there’s only been two of us, [current Browns starter] Brian [Hoyer] and I at one time and now myself and Ryan Mallett. We have a great rapport. I’m friends with all those guys. Matt Cassel I talk to – he may be starting this weekend. Brian, we text back and forth and talk with him. It’s great to see him and it’s hard work really pays off and guys that stay at it and are mentally tough, always trying to do the right thing, like Brian has done, like Matt has done, like Ryan Mallett has done, it’s great when they finally get an opportunity to play.”

So, Cassel will get another opportunity to play. And while it’s possible that he could take the job from Ponder via injury as Brady once did to Drew Bledsoe, Cassel has showed few Brady-esque characteristics. When the Chiefs relied on him to be the main man, he completed 57.4 percent of his passes, throwing 59 touchdowns to 44 interceptions. Then again, that might be preferable to Ponder’s 59.2 completion percentage, 33 touchdowns and 30 picks since he was selected by the Vikings in the first round of the 2011 draft.

“He has great composure. You can just tell he has that leader in him. It’s good to have him in the huddle,” receiver Jerome Simpson said of Cassel. “We still love Christian, but it’s the next guy up if a guy is injured.”

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16 comments
Kevin71
Kevin71

Ponder suffers from poor QB play, that's the biggest thing he suffer froms. The Vikings blew this one picking him in the first rd. But Ponder won't be the first QB bust taken in the first rd.

DanaBunner
DanaBunner

Many people forget, including the author of this article, that Cassel was very good for KC in 2010.  QB rating of 93.0, 27 TDs, just 7 INTs.   So he has had two good seasons and three mediocre ones. He is capable of being an improvement upon Ponder, who is up and down week to week.  In 2012 Ponder had 4 games with QBR > 105 and 5 games where he was under 60.  Although so far in 2013, he has been consistently mediocre.

FredFlintsone
FredFlintsone

Your starting QB just got replaced by a guy who lost his job last year. That cant be good.

luvfoozball
luvfoozball

This is wrong. Ponder was on his way to become a star QB.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

I hear that Josh Freeman will be available soon.

UBERTAXTHERICH
UBERTAXTHERICH

This just gave the Vikes the boost they needed.

NFC North power rankings

1. Bears

2. Lions

3. Vikes

4. Packers

friendly--neighborhood--scrawler
friendly--neighborhood--scrawler

The good old standby excuse "rib injury" wink, wink... yes, i know Ponder is hurt but i think Cassel gives the Vikes a better chance to win, in college Ponder was a great QB but this is the pros, Ponder has reached his ceiling the Vikes should consider this a lost season and make a play for a top draft pick. Teddy would look great in Minnesota. People are forgetting Cassel did take the Patriots to an 11-5 record while a first time starter in college or the pros.. So you cannot on one hand say Cassel sucks and on the other hand praise Brady, then you are saying Brady is a systems Quarterback, that same system Cassel was putting up 400 yard games like it was nothing

BrianBall
BrianBall

Vikings visited England a while ago, didn't go so well for the Isle then. We'll see millennium...

jeebs
jeebs

A game too late if you ask me but there's still room for the playoffs.

Kevin71
Kevin71

@friendly--neighborhood--scrawler  It wouldn't be so bad if they had taken Ponder in the 2nd or 3rd round. He was not a first rd pick by any stretch. I never followed him in college at all but from what I heard he was inconsistent there as well.