It’s hard to “win” something that was already always yours, but it’s been made official: Matt Cassel is the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. He will be to start the 2014 NFL season, at least, as he was consistently on top of his game throughout the preseason and edged out rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
It’s actually an impressive win, as Cassel held back the clear future of the franchise under center and truly did out-play Bridgewater every step of the way. That normally means nothing when talking about a competition with a young passer, but considering Bridgewater was actually quite solid himself, it showed Cassel was ready more than ever to lead an offense.
Naturally the better fit in Norv Turner’s vertical passing system, Cassel will march into a week one matchup with the dispirited St. Louis Rams in an attempt to play well right off the bat and hold onto the starting job. Cassel will have to do more than just put up some nice numbers, though, as a solid Bridgewater is arguably only a handful of losses away from getting his turn with the offense.
This is why the Vikings held onto Cassel during free agency, though. Now they have options.
Cassel has seemingly mastered Turner’s system and oddly better suits it, and should be able to make good use of a plethora of weapons, including superstar running back Adrian Peterson, wide receivers Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson and tight end Kyle Rudolph.
A year after putting up 11 touchdowns to nine interceptions and out-playing Christian Ponder, the 32-year old Cassel will once again try to stave off a younger quarterback to keep his job. It’s unlikely Cassel lasts the entire season, but for now he gives Minnesota their best chance at winning early in the year.
Cassel’s first game of the year could be an interesting one, as the Rams were shaky against the pass in 2013 but on the flip-side were dominant at putting pressure on the quarterback. If the Vikings can get Adrian Peterson going, it could help give Cassel more time to air it out and keep the Rams guessing. If that happens, Cassel could have a reasonable chance at getting 2014 started off the right foot.