Just about an hour ago, the Vikings officially confirmed that Matt Cassel will start at quarterback this Sunday. Check here for more. I cannot say I am surprised. Coach Frazier could not stop talking about Ponder’s hurt ribs, so it seemed inevitable.
I don’t think there is any monkey business here. I don’t think this was a decision made to stop a season from slipping into the abyss, or to appease trigger happy fans. That being said, this still may be a long term switch. Ponder’s performances have not given him a strangle hold on the job. If Cassel plays like he did in 2008 with the Pats (rating of 89.4, 11 wins, played every game) or in 2010 with the Chiefs (rating of 93, 10 wins in 15 games), he will be the Vikings’ starter for the foreseeable future. At 30, he is not overly grey for a quarterback. Indeed, there is no sell-by date for a pivot who is playing well. He also has more wiggle and athleticism than some would have you believe (I repeatedly heard him referred to as strictly a pocket quarterback on the radio). The pitfall is that his two good years relied on not turning the ball over (21-11 TD-INT ration in 2008, 27-7 in 2010). As many advanced-stats types will tell you, such figures are not really predictive, and indeed his remaining statistics suggest as much (his overall TD-INT ratio in Kansas City was 59-44, even with that immaculate 2010). Hopefully, this offense proves to be better equipped than his last and momentum is established.