Vikings Quarterback Matt Cassel
Well, I’m excited to be back up here again this week. Obviously we’ve got a big test ahead of us with a team that’s won five out of their last six games in Philadelphia. They’re a team, especially on the defensive side of the ball, that’s predicated on speed. Trent Cole is a guy that obviously has been in this league for a long time and we’ve got to be aware of him at all times. At the same time we’ve got to go out, and a lot of times it comes down to execution, taking care of the football and giving ourselves an opportunity to win.
Q: What happened to your mustache?
A: Oh yes. It was finally time to shave that thing off. I think probably nobody is probably happier than my wife right now.
Q: How awkward has this season been with all of the switching at the quarterback position?
A: For me it’s one of those situations that in any given year you have to anticipate the unexpected. This year has seen ups and downs and all kinds of crazy stuff going on but at the same time I think if you keep a level head and continue to work hard and not let that frustrate you, because I think frustration is a self-inflicted wound a lot of the times, that you can continue to get better each and every week and be ready to play when you’re number is called.
Q: Do you look at these next few weeks as an opportunity to hold onto this role for the rest of the season and even going into next year?
A: Well first I’ve said this, and I know it’s cliché, but you don’t look forward because the minute you start looking forward and worrying about, “well gosh is this going to dictate what happens in the future,” and all of this and put added pressure on yourself it takes away from you accomplishing your goals on the field on Sunday. Everybody’s energy right now is to go out there and perform and win these last three games. That’s our goal. If anybody’s looking at it differently then they shouldn’t be here. I think going into this weekend it’s a great challenge for us but I think everybody’s going to be ready to go. There’s going to have to be guys that step up with some of the injuries that we sustained during last week’s game and I think that they’ll all be up to the challenge.
Q: Do you think that it was a no-brainer because you’ve performed the best out of the 3 guys?
A: I don’t know what the decision came down to. Again, as I told you guys on Sunday, I would love another opportunity to play for this team and for these guys and I’m excited that I’m going to get another opportunity to go out there. I’m going to prepare hard this week and go out there and hopefully we’ll be able to put together a win.
Q: How does it feel now that all 3 guys are healthy and now you’re still the starter?
A: It’s not really any different for me. My preparation, as I’ve told you guys in the past, I try to be consistent because I think anytime you do get an opportunity if one week you’re a different guy and those guys see it and then the next week you’re somebody else when you’re getting the nod then it creates maybe inconsistency for them and who you are as a leader. As a leader and as a quarterback I think consistency is the key.
Q: For this team and what you’re trying to do how is it better than the other guys?
A: You know what, Christian has played great at different times of the year. I think that I’ve played well certain times of the year and then maybe there is other games, like against Carolina, where I didn’t play as well. At the same time, I think the key thing for this position is taking care of the ball and consistency week in and week out and that’s what we all strive to do. Sometimes that doesn’t work out and there might be other factors that go into that because there are 11 guys on the football field at any given time. But I’m excited about the opportunity this week and we’ll see if we go out there and get a win.
Q: You weren’t able to hold onto the starting job with the Chiefs last season. Is there anything you can learn from that in terms of holding this starting job?
A: I think, again, it comes down to consistency. Last year we were up and down and inconsistent and as quarterback the number one thing is to be consistent and take care of the football and we weren’t able to do that last year and that was many of the reasons why we struggled. At the same time, it’s a team game and you learn something every single time you step out on the football field. I’m still learning stuff every single time I step out on the practice field and this is year nine for me. You learn more from your mistakes than you do your successes and a lot of times that helps you grow as a player.
Q: Are you more careful with the ball this year than last year?
A: I wouldn’t say that. I just think that we’ve been doing a good job of taking care of the football all around and I think last year at times we got behind early and we had to throw the ball a lot. Sometimes there are tipped balls and everything else that goes on and sometimes it’s just a bad decision and I’ll be the first one to tell you I’m not perfect at all. Anybody that plays this position you know you’re going to have some turnovers and you know you’re going to do that but the other thing is coming back from that.
Q: What is it like having a guy like Cordarrelle Patterson who can do so many different things and can throw so many different looks at the defense/?
A: As I said before, Cordarrelle is as special as they come in terms of physical ability. As a receiver he’s grown each and every week that he’s been out there. You can tell that in the gameplan we continue to put in stuff to feature him and he’s continued to get better each and every week. It’s nice and comforting as a quarterback to know that if you get the ball in that guy’s hand that any given time he can take it to the house.
Q: Can you compare him to anybody that you’ve played with as he evolves? Because he has some freakish tools.
A: He does have freakish tools. Again, you can’t say enough about his physical attributes. He’s big, he runs physical and any time he gets the ball in his hand in the open field watch out. I hate to make comparisons between players but I think he’ll also be the first to tell you that he’s still growing each and every time he’s out there on the practice field whether it’s working on his routes or understanding defense and doing things which will help him as he moves forward.
Q: How do you think defenses will approach you if you don’t have Adrian Peterson or Toby Gerhart?
A: I don’t know because the entire season basically I’ve had Adrian and Toby back there. We’ll just have to see come Sunday. We might have to make a few in-game adjustments but at the same time Matt Asiata, he was the guy that sprung that block for Cordarrelle on that [79-yard touchdown] play. The guy didn’t get any reps during practice but he steps in on the field in the most pivotal part of the game and steps up and makes a hugh block so I anticipate these guys being ready to go. It’ll give them an opportunity. That’s how I got my start. Sometimes injury happens but what you have to do is close ranks and move forward.
Q: When did you get the word that you’d be starting?
A: Leslie [Frazier] told me yesterday.
Q: How did he phrase it?
A: He just told me basically what his ideas were for this week and I was excited again about being able to get back out there on the football field.
Q: You were talking about the mustache. Did you just do that for Movember and then you won on December 1stthen you kept it?
A: That’s exactly right. Like I said, I think my wife is more pleased about me not having any hair on my face than anybody else.
Q: You’re still the quarterback but you have no mustache?
A: Yeah, I’m trying to grow a little bit out this weekend so we’ll see what happens.
Q: There’s been good and bad this year. How do you weigh the good versus the bad? How do things compare to what you expected?
A: Well you know like I said, starting the season I think there were high hopes for everybody around here and unfortunately the season hasn’t gone as any of us anticipated, but at the same time, as you can tell on Sundays, it’s not like this team has rolled over by any bit. We go out there and we’re playing hard. We’re just trying to figure out how to win those ballgames down the stretch. There’s a multitude of reasons why it hasn’t happened at this point but I guarantee that there is no quit in those guys in that locker room and we’ll go out and fight until the end.
Q: How do you look at the running back situation with the injuries?
A: Like I said you have to anticipate that in the NFL. There are going to be injuries and it could be someone as pivotal as Adrian Peterson or somebody else that’s a role player. But at the same time, as a quarterback and any given position, you have to really make adjustments and move forward and execute your part of the gameplan.
Q: Considering your experience and where you are do you consider yourself in the spot with this team and coaches give you more of the ability to make plays at the line in terms of what you see?
A: I think that you stay within the system. Every given week there is a different gameplan going into trying to execute the strengths and weaknesses of what you’re going up against on their defenses. Every week it changes and some weeks I do have more control of that and then other weeks there might not be as much of a check within the game. It kind of depends more on the coaches and what they see in how we’re going to attack them this week.
Q: Did you audible into Toby Gerhart’s touchdown run in the 4th quarter?
A: Well it was a two-minute drive and sometimes I have the leeway to call the play and I was able to call that play and I anticipated them going split safety and they did and the offensive line did a heck of a job blocking it up and Toby did the rest. He broke those tackles and got into the endzone, so what a remarkable run and effort by him.
Q: Are you looking forward to playing back indoors?
A: Yes I am. I’m not going to lie. That was one of the craziest games I’ve ever been a part of, especially with the snow. But it’ll be fun to be back in the Metrodome in front of our home crowd, which is always a treat for us because those fans come and really give us a 12th man.
Q: Is that a preview of what the fans will see the next two seasons at TCF Bank Stadium?
A: Well it was colder here wasn’t it? Quite possibly it could be a preview.
Q: Did you get hit by any snowballs?
A: No, I dodged a few. I did dodge a few. They were coming. They were throwing those things.
Q: Do you think you should be allowed to return fire?
A: I think a few guys thought about it.