If I were to tell you that the Minnesota Vikings quarterback situation was a butt fumble of a mess in 2013, I don't think anyone would argue with me. From the time training camp started, we all understood this was going to be a make-or-break year for Christian Ponder, who was pretty much gifted the position since the first team snaps in Mankato. And while it's clear he didn't come close to "making it" in 2013, it's not fair to say he was "breaking it" this year either, because that wouldn't be accurate. I mean, I would say it was more like a "Fiery dive bomb of shattered dreams and napalm into a school of orphan children on a field trip to a bunny farm." It was that bad.
So the Vikings diddled their thumbs and started Josh Freeman and Matt Cassel at the spot through a spate of Ponder injuries, and – after all this dust has settled on a pointless 4-9-1 team – we're left with what we knew all along: Matt Cassel is the team's best quarterback, and it's not even close.
Coincidentally, one of the Vikings big play guys and valued veterans, Greg Jennings, feels the same way.
In a way, you almost feel bad for Jennings, right? He left Aaron Rodgers and the brother kissers in Green Bay fans to come to Minnesota and play with Christian Ponder, who he was told was THE next purebred stud in the NFC North. Now, in Ponder's defense, he is a total stud, but it has nothing to do with his football talents, amirite?! And as a counter to "feeling bad" for Jennings, he is making millions of millions of dollars, so who cares.
But still. It took this dumb franchise until week 15 to realize that Matt Cassel gave the team "the best chance to win", as head coach Leslie Frazier is a fan of saying. Now, while Frazier used the same rhetoric in regards to Ponder when Christian was starting throughout the season, it's not like you can really blame him. The team was honestly in a no-win situation this year. They had to start Ponder to see if they needed to draft another one next year, and you had to dedicate the entire season to him, or, at least the part of the season where things mattered.
In retrospect, sure, maybe we could have only given him the first six games or something (assuming he was healthy that whole time), and when we would have gone 0-6 or 1-5 or whatever, we could have used the injury excuse for him again, started Cassel and probably still won the division with an 8-8 record or something since the NFC North is so bad this year. We'd have our Ponder answer, season would be saved, an we'd get another entertaining playoff appearance.
As is, the season was lost early. On the plus side, we did get our Ponder answer, yet on the down side, we're now looking at relying on Matt Cassel as being our stop gap while we bring along another potential, young franchise quarterback in the draft. The issue is that Cassel has a player option for next year, so he could opt out this off season and test the waters elsewhere. I haven't looked at his contract numbers, but I would guess the market value for him and what the team is offering him in the second year of his deal would likely indicate he can make the most money by staying with the team.
But the danger, and probably why Jennings is campaigning for Cassel so early, is would Matt WANT to stay here? He's seen how dysfunctional the franchise is. He'll likely be working in a new offense, with a new head coach, and go through another year of learning offensive language, and such. That's a huge pain in the ass too. And what if he could get a deal to play in California or something? Warm weather vs. on the frozen turf of TCF Bank next year? It'd be an easy decision for me.
So we'll have to see. Matt Cassel is certainly the favorite to return as the Vikings starting quarterback in 2014, and he might just be semi-competent enough to make us entertaining, while the defense grows up and improves, and we dog and pony show our new potential quarterback of the future. I'd be fine with it, with the caveat saying I fully understand Cassel is going to look like butthole at some times. There's a reason the Chiefs didn't keep him as their franchise QB, ya know.
On the plus side, he's just as dreamy as Ponder is. And his wife ain't too bad either. So, maybe keeping Cassel and losing Ponder will just be a wash. Off the field, anyway. On the field, it'll be way better. Has to be.