5 questions: Matt Cassel doesn’t want to discuss contract option

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

in 2010.

“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

much better.”

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

highlights:

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

starter?

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

public eye.

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.”

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