The Vikings are in the midst of one of those great sports dilemmas — the kind where there is no perfect answer, we can talk in circles for hours, and most of it is meaningless [redacted] serving as a pleasant diversion from riots, wars and deadly viruses.
The interesting thing about the Teddy Bridgewater vs. Matt Cassel debate is that for all the dalliances the Vikings have had with QB controversies, we can’t remember one that had quite so many good arguments on both sides — at least when it comes to the question of “who should be the week 1 starter?”
When Christian Ponder was a rookie first-round pick in 2011, he was coming off a lockout shortened offseason. There was no good reason for him to start right away (even if the default alternative was Donovan McNabb). Ponder was the clear starter in 2012. The Vikings went to the playoffs that year, so he was the incumbent in 2013. The job was Brett Favre’s, of course, in 2009 and 2010. The years before that but after Daunte Culpepper were mostly starter-by-default scenarios, where the Vikings had to choose between the lesser of two mediocrities.
You could argue they’re in somewhat similar territory this year with Bridgewater and Cassel, though we would argue it’s more of a legitimate competition: a rookie deemed to be close to NFL-ready coming out of college and a veteran who showed reasonable competency in 2013 and in previous seasons as a starter.
Cassel looked better in the preseason opener. Bridgewater has by many accounts looked quite good in most practices.
Our best guess still is that Cassel starts the season with the No. 1 job, but we also think the decision will be an interesting indicator of the mindset of Mike Zimmer and Norv Turner. Do they go the safe route and go with the veteran early against a tough schedule, or do they go all-in on a rebuild with the rookie?
Maybe it’s as simple as the best player for the job will win it, but if it’s a virtual tie it gets more complicated.