EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Matt
Cassel, Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback
The statement is fact. There are
no questions this week; no quarterback controversy, no spin on the wheel.
Cassel is Minnesota’s starter
after a season full of weekly questions and four changes in which all three
quarterbacks have started a game. Cassel has solidified himself — and maybe
ended Christian Ponder’s tenure with the Vikings — with his performance last
week, if not the past three weeks.
In beating Philadelphia on Sunday,
Cassel threw for 382 yards, the most by a Vikings quarterback since Brett Favre
“There were some plays out
there that we need to take advantage of because of the way we run the
ball,” coach Leslie Frazier said, later adding: “Matt made some big-time
plays down the field, which resulted in a great day from a points standpoint.
You’d like to see the quarterback stand in the pocket, be strong, be confident,
poised and make those throws that he made. It makes our offense and our team so
Cassel had a quarterback rating
above 80 each of the past three games — which includes a come-from-behind win
against Chicago, a narrow last-minute loss at Baltimore and last week’s win —
while throwing for an average of 297 yards with six combined touchdowns and two
turnovers. His play has only added to the “what-if” scenarios that
have followed Minnesota (4-9-1) this season.
“You need stability at that
position,” Frazier said. “You need a guy playing well for you to be
successful over the course of 16 weeks. So the fact that we’ve had to move
people around at that position, I’m sure it’s had some type of effect on where
we are now. There’s no question about it. We’re not denying it.”
Cassel took his spot on the
podium for a Wednesday press conference as Minnesota’s starter. Here are five
1. How different is it this week
that it’s a more comfortable situation that you know you’re going to start for
the last two games? Are you maybe not looking over your shoulder as much as
previous starts, or how would you gauge it?
CASSEL: I feel pretty much the
same. If Coach gives me the nod, then I’m ready to go. Again, as I’ve told you
guys all along, I think my approach, I try to stay as consistent as possible.
It’s nice going into a week knowing that you’re the starter and there’s no
questions being asked in the locker room. So, I think everybody’s prepared,
like I said, to hopefully build off of what we did last week and go in there
and have a good performance.
2. Do you think things would be
different for this team if in training camp you had gotten a chance to be the
CASSEL: I honestly can’t say
that. One of our big duties as a player is not to dwell on the past and stay in
the now because that’s the only way you’re going to continue to move forward
and be successful.
3. Forty-eight points (last week)
without (Adrian) Peterson, did you see some of that potential in this offense
when you signed here?
CASSEL: There’s no doubt. I think
you look across the board for us offensively, we’ve got a lot of weapons on the
outside. We’ve got some good tight ends. Our offensive line is a veteran
offensive line that has played together for a few years, and then you’ve got
your great running-back situation here. So, when I signed here, there’s no
doubt that came into play.
4. You, of course, have a
contract option for next year. Would you say you’re giving more consideration
now to coming back than maybe you would have a couple weeks ago when you
weren’t seeing the field?
CASSEL: I’ve had that question a
lot and the fact of the matter is I don’t really think about that, because I
think it would be unfair to the guys in that locker room, unfair to myself,
unfair to our fans. Because really we’ve got two games to go and when you start
worrying about and thinking about that stuff, I think it distracts you. For me,
there’s going to be a time and a place for me to sit down with my wife, my
family and discuss all that stuff. But right now is not that time. I’m really
excited about having another opportunity to play for the Minnesota Vikings and
be the starter this week and go out and play.
5. You were under a lot of
pressure from the fans (in Kansas City). It was well-chronicled some of them
cheered when you were down on the ground last year hurt, but you never really
lashed out. Is that not in your nature or was that difficult when the fans were
cheering in that situation and not to say anything and keep it out of the
CASSEL: I think we’re all human.
You hear that stuff and do all that. … Everybody’s going to have an opinion,
whether good or bad, and if you get caught up in that and you don’t truly
believe in yourself and what your capabilities are and what you can do, then I think
it’s a downward spiral from there. So, I think you surround yourself with
people that support you, you surround yourself with your teammates who care
about you and you continue to move forward and just try to take out the
positive and believe in yourself.”