With only a month before NFL preseason action, there are BIG QB battles looming around the league. The Minnesota Vikings have a three person competition, but is it truly open? Dan Salem and Todd Salem debate in part one of this week’s TD Sports Debate. Two brothers from New York yell, scream and debate the NFL and sports.
There are a number of NFL quarterback battles around the league as we head towards mini camps and the preseason. But none are more exciting than the one going on with the Minnesota Vikings. I know what you’re thinking, who cares about the lowly Vikings? Need I remind you that Adrian Peterson, arguably the greatest running back currently active in the league, plays up north in Minnesota and may only have a season or two left in the tank. He is a huge safety net for the winner of the QB battle and a reason to take notice. The Vikings feel like a team on the brink, but their quarterback decision will push the scales towards success or failure.
This battle is a three person affair, with the rookie Teddy Bridgewater fighting ‘veterans’ Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder for the starting job. I put the title of veteran in quotes because neither man has a huge, or inspiring resume to fall back on. Cassel was the presumed favorite and has had the most success, but this competition is wide open.
Because there is a rookie involved, my instincts tell me Cassel should ‘win’ the job for the near term. I’m a big fan of transitioning rookie quarterbacks into the gig and not simply throwing them into the fire starting in week one. Bridgewater’s expectations are slim to none, which plays in his favor. I’d love to see him take over in week three, but this probably means the team is struggling and Cassel is not getting it done.
There is no easy transition plan that includes winning and teams won’t advertise one regardless. The winner of this battle is the starter until he loses the job. Therefore I have to ignore my desires for rookie development, which leaves me in a void. Bridgewater is a longterm answer, potentially. Cassel is a quick fix, potentially.
Do you actually see a favorite here? A winner? Who’s best for Adrian Peterson?
Here is how I’d rank the likelihood of each guy winning the starting job:
Matt Cassel -300
Teddy Bridewater +180
Christian Ponder +900
Cassel is the solid favorite at this point, as he should be. He’s a veteran quarterback, as you mentioned. But he’s also had a good amount of success in this league in both New England and Kansas City. Even last year, in six starts, he completed over 60 percent of his passes and averaged more than 7.0 yards per pass attempt.
Christian Ponder, the other “veteran,” has little to no chance of being Minnesota’s starting quarterback. He offers very little upside and is just not as good of a player as Cassel. I’ve always liked Ponder a bit, especially coming out of Florida State. However, he was over-drafted and doesn’t throw the ball down the field even as he’s developed in the NFL.
Bridewater is the interesting player here. He has the highest ceiling of the three. I felt like he was the best quarterback in the 2014 draft. I still feel that way. How one pro day can wash away two entire seasons of elite quarterbacking is beyond me. But, like anyone, I have doubts about him succeeding right away, especially with this roster. His inexperience and early mistakes would do nothing to help out Peterson, even if Peterson’s presence would greatly aid Bridgewater. And his lack of a huge arm would perhaps slow down the maturation of the Vikings’ best receiver, Cordarrelle Patterson.
I could see Bridgewater starting a few games this season, but not as early as week three and not because he’s out playing Cassel. It would just be one of those times the coaching staff tries to mix things up to restart a sputtering roster, similarly to what the Raiders tried (and failed) to do last season.