The writing was on the wall pratically from the get-go, after Mike Zimmer’s announcement on Monday made it clear who will be the Week One starter for the Minnesota Vikings, and that man will be the veteran Matt Cassel. The hype train followed the number one pick, Teddy Bridgewater, all the way into Minnesota from draft day in May, but Cassel proved throughout the first three games that he deserved another shot at being a starting quarterback in this league.
The former signal caller for the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots had 26 completions out of 39 attempts, with 367 yards and two touchdowns, compared to one interception. The first team offense for the Vikings has operated fluently under new offensive coordinator, Norv Turner, while the defense has justified their case of improvement from last year to this coming year. The first quarter of Minnesota’s season is possibly the toughest for them on the season, playing against three playoff teams in five games to open the new year. The quarterback position may be highly touted, receiving all the headlines, but Minnesota’s defense was horrific in 2013, and must be as advertised in order for the Vikings to compete against the elite in the league.
How did Teddy Bridgewater lose the chance to start? Zimmer emphasized to Teddy and the media during his press conference that he has never been happier with Bridgewater and his progression as a rookie. However, it seemed to come down to the veteran leadership and command that Matt Cassel provides in the huddle and locker room. The first round rookie has also played extremely well in the preseason. After a rocky start in Oakland in the first game, Teddy has thrown for four touchdown passes in two games and has not committed one turnover this preseason. Critics feel a year under the veteran Matt Cassel, and with the tutelage of Norv Turner, Bridgewater may become the franchise signal caller the Vikings needed for many years to come.
Minnesota’s opponent in Week One has their own personal quarterback conundrum brewing in St. Louis. Starter Sam Bradford tore his ACL for the second straight season, and reports peg Shaun Hill as the Rams’ starter heading into the first game. Rumor has it that they may be looking into the trade market to find their short-term resolution to the position, but Cassel and company will not have to worry about what the Rams offense has to offer. The front four on the defensive line for St. Louis is already considered one of the best in the league, with Robert Quinn and Chris Long coming off the edges. They could lead to a long night if Minnesota’s offensive line does not stick to their keys.
The grind to open the season is one grueling one to examine. If Minnesota and Matt Cassel can do enough to survive their first five games, Cassel will maintain the starter. If they falter coming out the gate and drop below .500, not too many will be surprised if Teddy Bridgewater takes over at the helm. For now, the situation is settled, and Vikings fans can rest easy, hoping for anything better than from what they saw last year at the position.
Commentary by Justin Huffman
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