We are 0-3. The season's hopes for the playoffs all but gone. The chance of being competitive slipping. An angry fan base. Turmoil. It is all bad.
Matt Cassel to the rescue.
Never mind that in fantasy football corners of the globe owners are stacking up on Steelers' receivers, tight ends, and running backs. Minnesota's defense has surrendered over 30 points in each game. Reggie Bush and Joqie Bell ripped through the team like a hot knife through butter. Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte as well. Last week, Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron were virtually unstoppable. That may be the first time someone has typed unstoppable next to a Browns' player in 2013.
Forget that the offensive line allowed numerous hits to Christian Ponder last week, six sacks, and only a little athleticism helped Ponder escape worse. This line has been unable to create holes for Adrian Peterson. Brandon Fusco, Matt Kalil, Phil Loadholt and friends have taken turns not picking up stunting rushers and/or plain missing defensive ends. Ponder, not a steady quarterback, has fumbled, thrown interceptions, and missed open receivers.
Dismiss the idea that the secondary is not deep. Was it only I that noticed when Chris Cook went out A.J. Jefferson got torched twice for the length of the field and a TD? Then he was "hurt", and Marcus Sherels came in. Sherels made many tackles, but most only after a first down was usually recorded. Harrison Smith, the golden boy, was unable to stop Cameron on a key play late in the game, eerily similar to the previous week when Smith was late to cover the Bears' receivers.
Pretend that the problem is not with the coaching, because it is the same coaches this Sunday. Whether it is repeatedly kicking to Devin Hester, forgetting to cover players on field goal attempts, calling passing plays a rookie cannot make, or refusing to overuse Adrian Paterson, there is plenty of blame available to the guys that evaluate talent and call the plays. Did they not see that we have no middle linebacker this year?
No. The solution is Matt Cassel.
It is possible, even probable, that Cassel will play better than Ponder. How could he not? Ponder is ranked 30th in the NFL, only a few were worse. Cassel is a pro, he has taken two separate teams to double-digit wins and playoff visits. He parlayed the first into a big contract with Kansas City from New England. He played under Tom Brady. The second, made him an instant hero and a Pro Bowler for the Chiefs. But KC did not protect him well in 2012, and he was first injured, and then gave way to Brady Quinn in a 2-14 season that was highlighted by the fans cheering when Cassel lay on the ground with a concussion. Chiefs' fans, not Eagles' fans.
Matt Cassel, if protected, will play well. With Jerome Felton returning the running game gets a needed boost, and more likely, the passing game gets a little better protection. Zach Line, while a great story, was not very good at fullback. No one was. This team needs Felton very badly.
There are signs that Chad Greenway is playing better. Sharrif Floyd made a contribution last week from defensive tackle. Brian Robison provided a pass rush. But this Vikings' defense needs Jared Allen to be better. It needs better play from Erin Henderson and whomever they decide is the other linebacker. So far, Marvin Mitchell has not been the answer. Maybe it is time to give Desmond Bishop a try?
0-3 makes fans angry. We all have the answers. Despite the fact that we do not watch the films, we do not know what coverage or assignments players have, we still (in our anger) assess and complain. We have decided Ponder is awful, Frazier clueless, and the defense suspect.
This Sunday we find out if fans are right or wrong about quarterback. Most of us were dead wrong last year about Joe Webb, but no one is holding fans accountable for being stupid, they are allowed to say whatever they want, and if occasionally right, rant about how smart they are. If Cassel throws for 250 yards, two TDs, and Minnesota wins, we are all geniuses.
If we fall to 0-4 and Cassel is no better than Ponder, well, then we harp on something else, most likely a coach or two...