In less than a day, quarterback Matt Cassel was released by the Kansas City Chiefs and scooped up by the Minnesota Vikings. The door had barely hit his rear end before the Vikings came a calling and made him their No. 2 passer behind Christian Ponder.
Many may wonder what exactly the Vikings saw in Cassel. In order to figure that out, all you’d have to do is look back at the 2012 Wild Card Round performance put on by then-backup quarterback Joe Webb.
Heading into a second-straight game against the Green Bay Packers, the Vikings were forced to rely on Webb after Ponder was inactivated hours before kickoff with a shoulder injury. Webb hadn’t thrown a pass all season long, but Minnesota had no other option than throwing him into the fire. He got burned bad and the Vikings floundered against a Packers team bent on revenge.
After Webb’s pitiful performance, the Vikings headed into the 2013 offseason with a plan in place to put a more-reliable passer behind Ponder. That’s where Cassel comes in.
Now I know that Cassel is far from a proven NFL quarterback. After his breakout season with the New England Patriots in 2008, he landed a starting gig with the Kansas City Chiefs and rarely displayed that spark from there on out. Since taking over for the starter in KC, he has had almost as many turnovers (57) as touchdowns (60). If it wasn’t for his commendable performance in 2010 – 3,116 yards, 27 touchdowns, seven interceptions – Cassel might not have even lasted this long with the Chiefs.
What Cassel does have that Webb doesn’t is experience.
Over his eight-year NFL career, Cassel has started 62 games. Compared to Webb’s three, that seems like quite the upgrade. Cassel has enjoyed his fair share of success (2008, 2010) and has shown a present-yet-fickle ability to lead an NFL offense when surrounded by strong supporting cast. While he may not push Ponder for the starting job anytime soon, Cassel offers the type of insurance that the Vikings sorely missed in the playoffs last season.
The Vikings were obviously high on Cassel to sign him so quickly. He’s a seasoned veteran with starting experience who could step for oft-injured Ponder and keep the offense afloat. It’s not the free agency splash Vikings fans were hoping for, but he’s a solid insurance policy.
Looks like it’s out with the new, in with the old.