Matt Cassel signed a free agent contract with the Vikings and will back up Christian Ponder. - Matt Sullivan
Matt Cassel has had an up and down career, with it being mostly down the last two season. We asked Joel Thorman his thoughts on the new Vikings backup QB.
Arrowhead Pride is one of the flagship sites under the SB Nation flag, and is probably the most highly trafficked Kansas City Chiefs website on the Internet. Joel Thorman is the site manager for AP, and he's also one of the NFL editor for SB Nation proper. He's also a Professional Gentleman of Leisure, and in 1984 won the American League home run crown for the Kansas City Royals, while also stealing 27 bases and driving in 103 runs.*
He took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for us about Matt Cassel, and tried to separate fact from myth.
*Didn't do the baseball stuff, but I bet half of you thought to yourself 'no kidding', and actually looked it up.
Matt Cassel. Had a good season in New England, had a Pro Bowl season in 2010 and KC won the AFC West, but 2012 saw him benched for Brady Quinn, and KC went 2-14. So was the problem with Matt Cassel, the Chiefs offense, or both?
Matt Cassel was the biggest problem but both can certainly be blamed. He was turning the ball over at an incredible rate. That was on him. I'm not saying the rest of the offense was superb but when you have Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe, things should be better than that. The season started off poorly, Cassel was turning it over, and then he got a concussion ... things got out of hand quickly. And this was year four of the Cassel era, mind you. His leash was shorter because two of his first three seasons in KC were disappointing.
What is the biggest strength of his game, and what is his biggest weakness?
In 2010, his biggest strength was hanging onto the ball -- 27 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. He made smart plays and he didn't screw it up. He had a great running back in Jamaal Charles and he let him do his thing. That's what I think you're hoping for. That season came with Charlie Weis as the offensive coordinator. Want success with Cassel? Hire Charlie Weis. Seriously. In 2012, of course, his biggest weakness was the exact opposite -- all the turnovers. If he plays like he did last season, Cassel doesn't have any strengths. But at his best, Cassel can hit the open man, protect the football and ride that great running back like he did in the 2010 season.
Is he starter material, or is he better suited as a backup who can be effective as a spot starter?
I think Cassel is a high-end backup at this point. Maybe he can turn into a low-end starter once again at some point down the line, if he gets that opportunity, but after four years in KC he is backup material, someone who can push your current starter. I will say that Cassel is the type of person, the type of teacher you'd want with Christian Ponder. He's a legitimately good guy who will do whatever is asked of him for the team. Those are good values from which Ponder should learn.
Okay, time for the hypothetical. Matt Cassel leads the Vikings offense on to the field with 2:00 left and 80 yards to go against Green Bay. Down by 4, need a TD to win the game. Can he do it?
Zero percent chance he does it. Not trying to bash Cassel, but that's not his game. He's not a fourth quarter come back type of guy. He doesn't put up four-plus touchdowns in a game. That's just not who he is. The Chiefs had a miserable record against teams who put up lots of points so don't expect to be competitive if Cassel is playing and you're in a shootout. Now in the first quarter, with the turnover-free Cassel at quarterback, I like your chances of keeping it competitive.