Mackey: We, as Vikings followers, have become quarterback masochists
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The last time the Minnesota Vikings had a quarterback throw for 300 yards and zero interceptions was Week 17 of 2009 -- nearly four years ago. There have been 41 such performances in the NFL this season alone.
Let that sink in.
We see Christian Ponder throw for 233 yards and a touchdown in a Week 12 game against Green Bay and we say, "Hey! That was pretty good! We want more of that!" We see Matt Cassel outperforming Ponder and say, "See? Look what this offense can do with Cassel at the helm!"
Meanwhile, 16 quarterbacks threw for more yards than Ponder that week. Nine threw multiple touchdowns with no interceptions. And, meanwhile, 23 quarterbacks have a higher passer rating than Cassel (84.9) this season, and 27 have a higher QBR.
I'm convinced our recent quarterback famine here in Minnesota has led us all to become football masochists.
"Matt and Christian have done some things along the way that have created a situation where we wanted to see Christian play a little more, and now we want to be able to seem Matt play a little bit," Leslie Frazier said Wednesday.
That's like Ron Gardenhire saying the Twins want to see a little more of P.J. Walters and Kevin Correia.
It's like Sonny Liston saying he needs to experience a few more right crosses from Muhammad Ali.
It's masochism. And we, as Vikings followers, must avoid the temptation to nod with approval when quarterbacks throw for 225 yards and a touchdown.
Now, I get it. The 2009 version of Brett Favre isn't walking through that door. Josh Freeman probably won't help either. The Vikings can only shuffle cards that are in the deck. Yet, in our world - a world filled over the past eight seasons with a chubby Donovan McNabb, a brittle Gus Frerotte, a nervous Tarvaris Jackson and a thankful Brooks Bollinger - 265 yards and two touchdowns from Cassel looks like Air Coryell.
Outside of Favre's last hurrah in 2009, we've been entrenched in quarterback purgatory since Daunte Culpepper shredded his knee in 2005. Forget about the Tom Bradys and Peyton Mannings. We've become so far removed from what quality QB play looks like that we've lost track of what an average quarterbacking performance looks like on a weekly basis.
Second-year starter Ryan Tannehill is a classic mid-pack quarterback. He ranks anywhere from 10th to 26th in all main categories (yards, passer rating, QBR, touchdowns, etc.). Yet even Tannehill has thrown for 300 yards four times this season, and 250 yards seven times. Pretty standard.
Sure, the Dolphins pass more often because they have a sub-par running game, but what about Andy Dalton? Another classic mid-pack quarterback, and Dalton plays on a Bengals team that has 41 more rushing attempts than the Vikings this season, so we can't use that as an excuse. Even Dalton has thrown for at least 250 yards in eight games this season.
Wanna know how many times Vikings quarterbacks have thrown for 250 yards since the beginning of 2010 - nearly four full seasons?
Twelve times in 61 games. And three of those were games in which a backup quarterback entered at some point.
How about games with multiple touchdowns and zero interceptions since the beginning of 2010?
Seven times in 61 games.
Mike Glennon, another relatively average quarterback (at best), has four multi-TD, zero-INT games in 10 starts this season alone.
So, if Cassel throws for 230 yards, two touchdowns and an interception this weekend, let's accept it for what it is - and let's keep a 2014 draft board open in our browsers.