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.”

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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 19 FINAL
San Francisco 3
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 1
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
UCLA 56 FINAL
North Carolina 78
Long Beach State 73 FINAL
Western Mich 55
Marquette 72 FINAL
Georgia Tech 70
Stephen F Austin 73 FINAL
Prairie View 61
UAB 47 FINAL
Florida 56
Rice 71 FINAL
Mercer 77
San Jose St 56 FINAL
Washington 78
Washington St 19 2nd Half 15:55
UC Santa Barbara 41
Baylor 69 2nd Half 1:35
Memphis 47
LSU 23 FINAL
Texas A&M 17
(6) TCU 48 FINAL
Texas 10
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
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SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
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Massachusetts
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(17) Missouri
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South Alabama
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(12) Arizona
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(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
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Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
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Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
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Northwestern
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Temple
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Boston College
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Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
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Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
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Penn State
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Texas Tech
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(1) Florida State
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Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
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Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
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(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
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Washington St
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UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
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Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 73 FINAL
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
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(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 61 FINAL
Richmond 56
Oklahoma 68 FINAL
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Wake Forest 55
(19) Oregon State 85 FINAL
Butler 53
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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 Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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