EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- There's an argument to be made that Mike Zimmer has his current job as the Minnesota Vikings' head coach in part because of the quarterback instability that plagued the team's 2013 season. Zimmer's predecessor, Leslie Frazier, used three different starting quarterbacks last season, at one point juggling between Matt Cassel, Josh Freeman and Christian Ponder in three consecutive weeks, and the lack of a consistent direction helped steer the Vikings toward a 5-10-1 season that resulted in Frazier's firing.
At the beginning of the Vikings' training camp, on the same day Adrian Peterson was calling for consistency at quarterback, Zimmer said Cassel was his No. 1 quarterback to start camp -- a not-insignificant detail that meant rookie Teddy Bridgewater would clearly have to outplay Cassel to take the job. Now that the Vikings are ready to start the regular season, Zimmer said he doesn't plan to have a "quick hook" on Cassel.
"We've gone seven, almost eight weeks now where we feel this is the way we want to go," Zimmer said. "If we throw an interception the first play of the game, I'm not going to yank him. I have to go on the OTAs and everything we've seen from there. I know the fans are excited about Teddy. I'm excited about Teddy. But we have to do what's best for the football team at this point, and what's best for the future -- and as you know, coaches' futures aren't necessarily very long. I'm always trying to think between the now and the future, and what's best for this organization as we go down the road."
Zimmer's answer didn't suggest he'll have limitless reserves of patience with Cassel, but the decision seems as much about managing Bridgewater's future correctly as it does about immediate returns at quarterback. The coach said he's confident Cassel will do the right things at quarterback, and while he added he wants to hold everyone accountable for their on-field performance, he said "I don't foresee [a quarterback move] being an early decision."
And for his part, Cassel sounds emboldened by the Vikings' confidence in him.
"Absolutely, I do," he said. "I think I’ve had a tremendous offseason, I’ve worked as hard as I’ve ever worked. And I’m not going to look over my shoulder. You can’t play that way. You can’t worry about, ‘If I make a mistake what’s going to happen next?’ … I think Teddy does have a tremendous future but hopefully as long as I’m here he’s not playing."