The Vikings have carved an identity, post-Fran Tarkenton, of consistently having a quarterback situation that could most generously be described as “unsettled” and more bitingly referred to as “a mess.”
We can quibble about when this reached its peak, but for our money it was the late 1980s/early 1990s, when Tommy Kramer, Wade Wilson, Rich Gannon and Sean Salisbury could be counted on to start. You just didn’t know which one from week to week (and neither did they sometimes).
This era was mentioned to Gannon on Thursday and described as “not exactly fleshed out” when it came to the quarterback situation. He listened to that description, then added “or ideal,” and laughed.
Gannon, as well as number of other Vikings alums, was at Winter Park for the Vikings’ final practice of minicamp Thursday. He and others watched a two-minute drill simulation that saw veteran Matt Cassel go first, rookie Teddy Bridgewater go second and somewhere-in-between QB Christian Ponder go last.
After practice, the final one until training camp starts in late July, head coach Mike Zimmer reiterated that he is in no rush to name a starting QB. When does he feel the need to do so?
“I probably have a date in my mind,” Zimmer said, “but I’m not going to tell anybody.”
Long-suffering Vikings fans, having lived through might take those words and fret over them. We don’t have to go back to the days of Gannon to find a mess. Just look back to last year, with the Ponder/Cassel/Josh Freeman experience, and you have plenty of fuel for a nightmare.
Are we headed for a repeat of that? Gannon shook his head.
“I think it’s a healthy situation,” he said. “Teddy Bridgewater comes into a great situation, having two veteran guys who have played and have experience. … I think Matt is a starting-caliber player in this league, I think Teddy is eventually going to be the guy, and it’s just a matter of how soon that is.”
And Ponder? “Even Ponder is going to try to be competitive and try to get in the mix,” Gannon said.
In other words, there is a clear No. 1 (for now), a clear No. 2 (who is primed to be a No. 1 in the future), and a clear No. 3 who will suffice in a pinch.
In the Gannon era with the Vikings, there was no clear-cut depth chart. There obviously was none last season, either, if Freeman could be signed off the street and find himself starting a game shortly thereafter.
This year? Zimmer might not have a starter named yet, but he at least goes into a month off with a plan.