It was an eventful Monday news conference with Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, who revealed that the NFL called him (unsolicited) about transpired in Baltimore -- the officiating, not the snowballs. Frazier said it was the second time this season the league has called him. He declined to say what the other game was, but he did say it was early in the season, and it sounded like it was in another narrow loss (which unfortunately doesn't narrow it down much).
The bigger news? Christian Ponder has passed his concussion tests and is cleared to play. Frazier said that means the staff will once again begin the process of evaluating who the starting QB will be for Sunday's home game against the Eagles.
Our sincere hope, of course, is that this is just Frazier lip service designed to buy some time and plant whatever seed of doubt might exist with the Eagles. What we do know is this: Adrian Peterson is banged up, with the result of his MRI still unknown. Toby Gerhart, we learned, has a strained hamstring and his status is in question. With a potentially gimpy running game, the choice should be even easier: Matt Cassel.
Cassel has played significant minutes in four games this season: three starts and a relief effort against Chicago. Two of those games represent two-thirds of the Vikings' victories this season. Another, Sunday, represents a game in which he twice directed TD drives with less than two minutes remaining, only to be stung by the defense and special teams. Ponder, too, has been stung by the D on a few occasions. But it has never been in the context of "he did everything he could do, and the team still came up short."
Josh Freeman? At this point, do the Vikings even bother? Cassel is playing respectably. Ponder is the only one under contract next season (Cassel has a contract clause for a second year, but either he or the Vikings can void it). Maybe the Vikings would turn to Freeman seeing as how they are officially eliminated from the playoffs, but it seems hard to picture at this point.
Hopefully the Vikings will make it easy on all of us and name Cassel the starter for the final three games -- if for nothing else than to see what might have been had he played a full seasons.