According to Adam Schefter, Christian Ponder could be replaced as the Vikings starter if he struggles, as “some believe Matt Cassel is good enough to challenge for starting job this year.”
Scott Pioli just signed with competitor NBC Sports, so he’s not the “some” referenced here, so I’m left wondering who these people are. This one garnered a hearty laugh from me, not because Ponder didn’t have his struggles last year at times, and is far from a sure thing to develop. It’s because Cassel is a backup quarterback at this point, who should be nothing more than an injury replacement. If Ponder struggled last year, then what do we call what happened with Matt Cassel for the last two seasons? Ponder just turned 25 and is entering the prime years for a quarterback; Cassel just turned 31 and is exiting them, and not in good form.
Christian Ponder will need to improve, but I think he gets all of 2013 if healthy. Here is a list of all quarterbacks who were under 6.4 yards per attempt at ages 23 and 24 combined. Ponder is tied for 18th lowest on the list, but there are enough guys below and around him to say that it is too early to rule him out. I even looked at whether we should hold Ponder’s play – while getting to play with Adrian Peterson – against him, and determined we should not (think Aikman struggling with Emmitt early, or Drew Brees with Tomlinson, among many other examples.) Cassel, meanwhile, is this generation’s Jim Zorn or Mark Malone, and I don’t see the Vikings turning to him too early.
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]