LIVE › 9-11:59 p.m. Sports Center Tonight
NEXT › 11 p.m. ESPN SportsCenter
Midnight ESPN SportsCenter
Updated: July 14th, 2014 6:42pm
Is Matt Cassel really the worst starting quarterback in the NFL?

Is Matt Cassel really the worst starting quarterback in the NFL?

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
Email | Twitter
SportsWire Daily

Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports

Signup!

ESPN's Ron Jaworski is unveiling his NFL starting quarterback rankings this week, and the results -- subjective as they are -- won't exactly be music to Minnesota Vikings fans ears.

Jaws began the list at the bottom with No. 32.

Matt Cassel.

"(Norv) Turner's offense starts with the run game. With Adrian Peterson in the backfield, Cassel's 66 quarterback rating last year on play-action passes just wasn't good enough," Jaworski said on ESPN, via ProFootballTalk.com.

Yes, Cassel was decidedly mediocre last season by almost every measurement. His 65.6 QB rating on play action (per Pro Football Focus) was better than only Thaddeus Lewis (43.5), Jake Locker (45.5), Geno Smith (54.1) and Eli Manning (65.1). His 47% completion percentage on play action was third worst. His 81.6 QB rating overall ranked 28th, and his career completion percentage of 59% would rank outside the top 20 in any given season.

Cassel will not be mistaken for Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers. We already know this.

But here's why Cassel's ranking should be taken with a large grain of salt. Maybe even a giant block of salt:

First off, Turner's offenses are heavy on deep passes. Cassel finished fifth among all quarterbacks in deep ball accuracy last season. That shouldn't be overlooked.

Secondly, when Cassel is put in advantageous environments, historically he has been just fine - namely in 2008 with the Patriots when he threw for 3,693 yards, 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 89.4 QB rating, and in 2010 with the Chiefs when he threw for 3,116 yards, 27 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 93.0 QB rating.

Those '08 Patriots had a Bill Belichek-led coaching staff and multiple offensive weapons in Randy Moss and Wes Welker. The 2010 Chiefs offered Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe, and a coaching staff, at the time, that was cohesive - head coach Todd Haley (10-6) and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who had New England roots.

Not to exonerate Cassel for his poor seasons, but he was without Weis in 2009 during his first year in Kansas City, and Bowe played only nine games. In 2011, Cassel played for his fourth offensive coordinator in as many years and he lost Charles to a season-ending injury in Week 2.

Cassel -- unlike Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, etc. -- isn't a quarterback who can rise above injuries, a bad offensive line, a lack of weapons and unstable coaching to lead his team to wins. He needs weapons and stability around him.

With Turner, Peterson, Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Kyle Rudolph and what looks to be, at worst, a league-average offensive line, Cassel has weapons and a quality offensive coordinator.

With those, it's pretty unlikely -- assuming he gets the nod over Teddy Bridgewater -- he'll be the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. 

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
10896