Souhan: Ponder still a mystery, but Cassel fits all the requisites

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 21, 2013 - 11:00 PM

The guy who has started the Vikings’ past two games has come through in a way they wish Christian Ponder had.

hide

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel (16) threw under pressure from Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin (96). The Vikings won 48-30.

Photo: Mckenna Ewen, Mckenna Ewen

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Vikings will be looking for a quarterback in the draft. If they could draw up a prototype of the ideal prospect, he would look something like this:

About 6-foot-4, 230 pounds. Good mechanics. Able to control a huddle and read defenses. Adept at throwing the deep ball.

He’d possess leadership skills and experience. He’d be able to complete about 62 percent of his passes, move well within the pocket and handle the diplomatic demands of the modern NFL quarterback.

The Vikings absolutely should draft someone like that. They also should realize that they’ll have that guy in their huddle Sunday.

If you want to label Matt Cassel, you can pick any convenient phrase, and you’d be right. He has been project, prospect, young backup, winning starter, losing starter, demoted starter, castoff, veteran backup, emergency starter and, this season, a third quarterback on a team that temporarily favored two struggling quarterbacks.

At season’s end, either he or the Vikings can opt out of the second year of his two-year contract. The Vikings would be wise to keep him around. Asked whether he wants to stay, Cassel said, “I would love to be back here.’’

Cassel has done exactly what the Vikings wanted Christian Ponder to do: take advantage of defenses stacked up to stop Adrian Peterson. Last Sunday, Cassel went further, taking advantage of a defense that had probably never heard of fill-in starter Matt Asiata. Cassel produced 48 points with an offense missing its top two backs and top two tight ends.

A Vikings quarterback has thrown for 240 yards five times this season. Ponder and Freeman have done it zero times; Cassel has done it five times.

His teammates have raved about his huddle presence and leadership. He’s experienced, smart, tough and polished.

He’s also the kind of guy you can root for. He didn’t start at USC. He didn’t attend the scouting combine. When he showed up for USC’s pro day, in which prospects work out for NFL scouts, he wasn’t given the right time. He showed up late, and was asked to finish the infamous Wonderlic Test in about 10 minutes.

His score? “I have no idea,’’ he said, smiling. “Let’s just say I got 100 percent.’’

He was drafted by the Patriots in the seventh round. After three years of studying under Tom Brady, he led the Patriots to an 11-5 record in 2008.

“When I first came into the league, Tom Brady took me under his wing and mentored me,’’ Cassel said. “I was so blessed to have someone like that, who I still talk to just about every other week. That’s what this league is about, is continuing to help those guys around you.’’

Cassel remembers completing a pass in practice once but forgetting to put a receiver in motion. “Tom got all over me,” Cassel said. “I said, ‘We completed the pass!’ He said, ‘You have to be perfect. If you want to get in the huddle and scream at those guys and hold them accountable, you have to be perfect. They can’t look at you and say, ‘Hey, you’re the guy who forgot the motion.’ ”

Cassel calls Brady “unbelievably competitive, whether it’s pickup basketball or golf. We’ll play golf in the offseason — golf! — and somehow it becomes a knock-down, drag-out fight.”

Cassel rarely exudes that kind of fire, but he says it’s there.

“Of course I view myself as a starter,” he said. “I’ve started a lot of games in this league over a long period and I’ve worked hard to get there. Perceptions can change, one season to the next. I’ve been through it all. I know I’m capable. I know I’ve shown that I can play at a high level and be a good player at times in this league, and be a great player at times in this league.

“I don’t take anything for granted. I feel very fortunate to be in this position even nine years down the road.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets 8 FINAL
Atlanta 2
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Yankees 1
Detroit 5 FINAL
Baltimore 4
Toronto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 2 FINAL
Cleveland 4
San Diego 3 FINAL
Seattle 4
Chicago WSox 6 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Kansas City 13 FINAL
Texas 2
Oakland 9 FINAL
San Francisco 2
Wisc-Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Milwaukee 8
Arizona 6 FINAL
Colorado 3
Univ of Minnesota 1 Top 3rd Inning
Minnesota 2
New York 32 2nd Qtr 5:23
Indiana 46
Phoenix 31 2nd Qtr 4:57
Orlando 41
Cleveland 17 1st Qtr 3:47
Toronto 17
Utah 11 1st Qtr 4:04
Boston 12
Charlotte 24 1st Qtr 4:51
Brooklyn 6
Denver 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Detroit 7:00 PM
New Orleans
LA Lakers 7:00 PM
Miami
Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Memphis 7:00 PM
Houston
Sacramento 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
Golden State
Portland 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Ottawa 1 1st Prd 15:01
Winnipeg 0
NY Rangers 7:00 PM
Detroit
Pittsburgh 9:00 PM
Colorado
Montreal 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Longwood 65 FINAL
Presbyterian 61
Campbell 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 72
Liberty 60 2nd Half 2:11
UNC-Asheville 68
Ohio State 66 2nd Half 5:49
Penn State 51
Maine 25 2nd Half
Albany 46
Duquesne 38 2nd Half
Fordham 35
George Washington 29 2nd Half
George Mason 32
Tennessee 33 2nd Half
LSU 33
Notre Dame 42 2nd Half
Louisville 31
SE Missouri St 35 2nd Half
Morehead State 35
St Francis-PA 29 2nd Half
Mount St Marys 24
Hartford 23 2nd Half
New Hampshire 32
Wagner 28 2nd Half
Robert Morris 39
Long Island 22 2nd Half
St Francis-NY 35
La Salle 20 2nd Half
Saint Josephs 24
Providence 29 2nd Half
Seton Hall 37
UCF 23 2nd Half
South Florida 43
Binghamton 25 2nd Half
Stony Brook 23
UMBC 16 2nd Half
Vermont 32
Sacred Heart 38 2nd Half
Bryant 30
Richmond 13 1st Half 10:40
Massachusetts 13
Wake Forest 7:00 PM
Duke
Purdue 7:00 PM
Michigan State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Pittsburgh
St Bonaventure 7:00 PM
Saint Louis
New Mexico St 7:00 PM
TX-Pan American
Houston 7:00 PM
Tulane
Howard 7:00 PM
NJIT
SIU Edwardsville 8:00 PM
Eastern Ill
St Johns 8:00 PM
Marquette
TCU 8:00 PM
Oklahoma State
Cincinnati 8:00 PM
Tulsa
USC 8:00 PM
UCLA
Miss State 8:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Utah State 8:00 PM
Wyoming
Air Force 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Nebraska 9:00 PM
Illinois
Colorado State 9:00 PM
Nevada
Boise State 9:00 PM
San Jose St
San Diego St 10:00 PM
UNLV
Oregon 10:00 PM
Oregon State
UC Santa Barbara 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Toledo 64 FINAL
Northern Ill 68
Wake Forest 69 FINAL
Boston College 53
Eastern Illinois 35 FINAL
UT Martin 68
Austin Peay 69 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
NC State 56
Massachusetts 55 FINAL
St Bonaventure 49
Auburn 71 FINAL
Florida 49
Penn State 63 FINAL
Indiana 68
Clemson 37 2nd Half 12:21
Georgia Tech 54
Davidson 30 2nd Half
La Salle 33
Loyola-Maryland 22 2nd Half
Lafayette 29
Boston U 26 2nd Half
Colgate 25
Coll of Charleston 32 2nd Half
James Madison 58
Delaware 37 2nd Half
Elon 32
Drexel 26 2nd Half
Northeastern 17
Hofstra 36 2nd Half
UNC-Wilmington 38
Towson 24 2nd Half
William & Mary 37
Miami-Ohio 30 2nd Half
Akron 36
Ball State 37 2nd Half
Central Michigan 32
Buffalo 22 2nd Half
Bowling Green 22
Western Mich 27 2nd Half
Eastern Michigan 32
Ohio U 31 2nd Half
Kent State 24
Youngstown St 40 2nd Half
Cleveland State 34
Illinois-Chicago 15 2nd Half
Wright State 44
Alabama 11 1st Half 11:01
Vanderbilt 16
Detroit 7:00 PM
Milwaukee
Purdue 7:25 PM
Wisconsin
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close