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  Tuesday January 27th, 2015    

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King of the Cassel (12/18/2013)
By Michael Marek
Twitter: @MikeWinPost

Victory. It’s tasted sweeter, but sometimes you have to take what you are given. This particular victory tasted like a vanilla ice cream cone when you really wanted something with flavor to it. You are disappointed upon your first bite, but you don’t throw the cone away because it’s better than nothing. While the Vikings certainly won’t throw away this win, it left fans with feelings of angst over what could have been this year if things had started differently.

This game will be looked back upon as a mere speed bump on the road in Vikings’ history as they continue to play out the string of the 2013 season. For one afternoon, Vikings fans got a glimmer of what the season could have been. At the beginning of the year, the Vikings had a choice of whether to stick with Ponder in the quarterback position or to flip the job to newcomer and veteran Matt Cassel. Ponder falsely gave the Vikings hope that he could turn it around this season and prove to be the franchise quarterback they have so desperately sought since Daunte Culpepper went down with a knee injury. So they rolled with Ponder, and the result has been failure. The Eagles game was a prime example of why they should have fallen in with Matt Cassel from the start.

Against the Eagles, Matt Cassel turned in an “A” performance, throwing for 382 yards and two touchdowns. He also found the end zone once on the ground. Greg Jennings inexplicably turned in the best performance of his career, bringing in 11 catches that went for 163 yards and a touchdown. Leslie Frazier attributed this to a “synergy” that exists between Cassel and Jennings. Whatever they are doing, Ponder should take note. Cassel has been able to make Jennings perform in a way that that Christian could only dream about. Jennings is starting to show the promise that he had when we signed him from Green Bay. I hope this is a sign of things to come from him.

In a game without Adrian Peterson or Toby Gerhart, the running game had the odds stacked against it. Matt Asiata hailed the call and ended up rushing the ball 30 times for a hard earned 51 yards that included three trips into the end zone. Even with the two running backs hurt, the Vikings’ offense managed to stay balanced as they called 35 rushing and 35 passing plays. Cassel noted after the game the importance of staying balanced to keep the opposing team honest. In this instance it worked to perfection.

The defense gave up 30 points, but they made important stops when they needed them. They forced Foles into his second interception of the season, and they were able to force the Eagles off the field on 3rd down by means of a sack on numerous occasions. The defense did just enough to win the game. Sadly, it came a little too late to save their coach or their season.

History haunts those who do not succeed, and this group is doomed to look back on this season with regret and longing for what could have been. The decision that will come back to haunt the 2013 version of the Vikings’ squad will be the quarterback controversy. In one of Adrian Peterson’s prime years it was criminal to go into a season with uneasiness of the quarterback position. When football historians look back at the Adrian Peterson era they will most likely see a waste of prime talent because of a lack of ability at the quarterback spot. Whether or not they should have started Cassel and stuck with him throughout the year will remain to be one of the greatest unknowns in Vikings’ history.



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