Matt Cassel says winning quarterback job isn't reason for celebration

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 26, 2014 - 6:52 AM

Mike Zimmer’s decision was expected and officially makes Teddy Bridgewater the backup.

The sun will rise again, December will be cold, the State Fair will be overcrowded and, wait, this just in from the podium at Winter Park on Monday …

“I told the team this morning that Matt Cassel will be the starter going into the season,” said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.

With those 17 words, the result in one of the more quietly strange NFL quarterback competitions went from being unofficially assumed for weeks by, well, everybody to official and a surprise to, well, no one. And that includes Teddy Bridgewater, the guy who lost despite a surprisingly strong preseason that includes no turnovers, four touchdowns, a coolheaded fourth-quarter comeback and a passer rating (117.3) that leads the league among players who have attempted at least 40 passes.

The fact that Bridgewater, a rookie first-round draft pick, played so well and still couldn’t close the gap in this competition speaks to how well the 10-year veteran Cassel accepted Zimmer’s challenge to hold off the future face of the franchise.

“To be honest with you, I worked tremendously hard this offseason to put myself in this position,” said Cassel, who has a 66.7 completion percentage, a 9.4-yard average per attempt and a 103.3 passer rating in three preseason starts. “I’m excited that it’s gone the way it has.”

Excited, but not content.

“I’m not celebrating,” he said. “It’s just one step in the process.”

And the decision isn’t irreversible, as Zimmer made sure to point out when asked how he’ll handle potential hiccups by Cassel and the ensuing clamor for the more popular Bridgewater to be promoted.

“We will hold the quarterback position to the exact same expectation that we do every other position,” he said. “If you perform, you play. If you don’t perform, then the next guy will get an opportunity at some point.

“That position, just like the outside linebacker spot, we have an expectation of performance. If those guys perform, they play.”

The starting job was Cassel’s to lose entering training camp. Both quarterbacks started fast in Mankato, but Bridgewater leveled off and regressed temporarily when he shared reps with the first unit leading up to and in the preseason opener.

“Matt did not do anything to lose the job,” Zimmer said. “I think he’s played great. The team has a lot of confidence in him.”

Support from team

Zimmer went on to say that starting Cassel is the “best thing to do right now.” Perhaps that was a nod to let Bridgewater know that a lot can happen over the course of 16 games.

“I told Teddy this morning that I’m so happy that he’s here with us,” Zimmer said. “I’m happy he’s the guy we picked. I’ve loved everything that he’s done. And it wasn’t anything that Teddy did or didn’t do. Teddy will still be, in my estimation, a great player for this franchise for years to come.”

Teammates have appeared to unite behind Cassel as the immediate starter while acknowledging Bridgewater’s lofty potential.

“I guess when you have a situation like this, if the guy you have going first doesn’t mess up, it’s hard to replace him,” receiver Jarius Wright said. “That’s kind of how it worked out. Cassel being in the league longer, he’s the veteran who knows how to handle every situation a little bit better.”

Ups and downs

For the 32-year-old Cassel, Monday’s announcement was another spike in a 10-year ride that’s seen a little bit of everything. He’s gone from Southern Cal backup to Tom Brady’s unknown backup. From Brady’s prized injury replacement to beloved Pro Bowl player in Kansas City. From reviled goat in Kansas City to the best of last year’s three-headed quarterback fiasco in Minnesota. And, finally, to Monday’s official redemption.

“I’ve been through a lot in my career,” he said. “I’ve been through the ups, I’ve been through the downs. I’ve been through the highs and the lows, so at this point, nothing really surprises me.”

Meanwhile, Bridgewater doesn’t appear to be shaken from his initial reaction to the Vikings trading up in the draft to select him 32nd overall.

“As I stated once I got drafted,” he said, “I felt like this was the perfect situation for me.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Oakland - LP: D. Otero 8 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Frasor 9
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
NY Islanders 5 FINAL
Boston 3
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Tampa Bay 5 FINAL
Dallas 1
Colorado 0 FINAL
Calgary 2
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
San Jose 1
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
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 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do against Atlanta?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close