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RandBall: Another reminder that NFL is a passing league

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • December 15, 2013 - 4:53 PM

The Vikings were playing without their all-world running back and his very capable backup -- not to mention the QB who has started the majority of their games this season -- so of course they put up the most points they have scored in 15 seasons.

Yes, their 48-30 romp over Philly was their largest output since dropping 50 on Jacksonville in 1998, the season they set a then-record for points in an NFL season.

There were a lot of circumstances that made such an output possible. The Eagles play fast, giving their opponents a lot of possessions, too. And the Eagles' defense was pretty much horrendous.

That said, it was another reminder that the NFL is a passing league ... and that for all of Adrian Peterson's greatness, a potent passing attack is what really lights up a scoreboard and makes an offense go in the modern NFL.

Matt Cassel threw for 382 yards and moved the ball like a machine. Those 382 yards were the most for a Vikings QB since Brett Favre dropped 446 on Arizona in 2010. Beyond that, you have to go back to the days of Daunte Culpepper for a higher passing yardage output.

Cassel only beat Christian Ponder's best game by a yard (Ponder had 381 in that duel against Tebow in 2011, his rookie season), but the point remains simple: Cassel is able to throw the ball to wide receivers. He moves the ball like a professional QB and Ponder really doesn't. And in the absence of a big-time running attack Sunday, we saw what happens when the Vikings open up and throw with a capable QB.

The greatest evidence comes from Cassel's chemistry with his most professional receiver, Greg Jennings. Jennings has played 13 of 14 games this season. In 8.5 games with Ponder and Josh Freeman (mostly Ponder), Jennings has 28 catches for 315 yards and zero TDs. In 4.5 games with Cassel, he has 31 catches for 418 yards and four TDs.

And the crazy part is this: Cassel is a decidedly average NFL quarterback. But even an average QB who can elevate his play in an expanded pass offense can direct a 48-point outburst like the one we witnessed Sunday.

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