They say that the backup quarterback is the most popular player on the team. There’s no pressure on him and if he’s forced to replace the incumbent starter, things won’t get any worse. But with a backup quarterback, the question we should be asking is, are things going to get better?
As the Minnesota Vikings’ offense continued to sputter down the stretch of last Sunday’s loss to the Cleveland Browns, the fans began expressing their frustration by booing the team as Jeff Locke came on to punt time and time again. Aside from the booing, you could hear the fans yelling something else: “We want (Matt) Cassel!” “Get Cassel in there” and “Put Cassel in!” It’s easy for fans and media to place the blame on the quarterback, but replacing Christian Ponder with Matt Cassel won’t turn the Vikings into an instant contender.
I’m not defending Christian Ponder’s play this season; he’s continued to show everyone that he’s a mobile, athletic quarterback who struggles with his accuracy and pocket presence. Benching Ponder for Cassel may or may not improve the team’s quarterback play marginally, but there are several aspects of this team that need to improve if the Vikings want to turn their season around.
The Vikings’ secondary has struggled with inconsistency and injuries so far this season, giving up the most touchdown passes, nine, so far this season. Cornerbacks Chris Cook and A.J. Jefferson, along with safety Jamarca Sanford might miss Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh, which only exposes the team’s secondary even more. The Vikings’ defense as a whole has given up the third most points in the league this season, allowing 32 points per game. Minnesota is also 30th in sacks with only four, a disturbing number for a team that has talented pass rushers Jared Allen, Everson Griffen and Brian Robison.
The defense hasn’t been the only side of the ball that’s struggled this season, the offensive line is on pace to give up about 53 sacks this season. The big boys up front have already given up 10 this season, 25th in the NFL, after only allowing 32 all of last season, good for 11th in the league.
Minnesota’s offensive and defensive lines were supposed to be strengths of this team and without increased production by the big guys up front and the rest of the defense, a quarterback change won’t yield any positive results.
Chris Schaeder is a Minnesota Vikings writer for RantSports. You can follow him on Twitter @schaederbaitor