It’s always a problem putting a veteran, yet not washed up player to serve as your backup quarterback, which means there might some sort of quarterback controversy waiting to happen for the Minnesota Vikings, especially if Christian Ponder fails early to prove he’s a better choice than Matt Cassel.
While 2012 wasn’t the best of seasons for Ponder, who struggled whenever Percy Harvin wasn’t on the field, finishing with 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, completing 62.1% of his passes along with a 53.8 QBR, Matt Cassel had it even worse, while not enjoying the benefit of playing next to an elite running back like Adrian Peterson.
Cassel played in nine games for the Kansas City Chiefs, winning only one of them, completing 58.1% of his passes while throwing only six touchdown passes to 12 interceptions. Yes, the receiving core was pretty thin, and the offensive line, more than once, did a very bad job in protecting its quarterback, but it doesn’t take away from Cassel’s personal responsibility for an embarrassing season.
And yet, Ponder, slated to start once the preseason begins and carry the #1 label as long as he doesn’t make too many mistakes, isn’t set in stone as the starting quarterback. Greg Jennings’ arrival probably makes it a little bit easier for him in thinking 2013 is going to be a lot better for him, entering his third season as a starter, but any signs of entering an interception streak or anything similar, and Cassel will start warming up his arm.
The Vikings are still going to be a running team. Whenever you have someone of the all-time caliber like Adrian Peterson, it would be a crime not to fully utilize him. This makes the quarterback more of a facilitator on many plays instead of a playmaker, like Ben Roethlisberger was during his early Steelers seasons.
This means it’s not up to Ponder to generate most of the big plays, but it also means that any mistake he makes will magnified and multiplied, pushing Cassel closer to overtaking him at starting quarterback.