A Missed Opportunity For Cassel

Ian Logue
August 28, 2008 at 10:26pm ET

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What could have been a great opportunity has turned into a disaster for would-be Patriots backup quarterback Matt Cassel.
Another subpar performance on Thursday night against the New York Giants may have been the end for Cassel. Despite playing with the first offense, for yet another game Cassel failed to get his team into the endzone, and it took just two series for head coach Bill Belichick to pull the plug.  
As a fan it’s been frustrating to watch.  Cassel has looked indecisive, confused, and despite having Randy Moss and Wes Welker at his disposal (albeit not tonight with Welker out with an injury) the Patriots have managed all of just two field goals with Cassel under center through four preseason games.
Had Cassel played with the second or third team I would have given him the benefit of the doubt, but he’s been given the opportunity to replace the injured quarterback Tom Brady in what you would have thought was the ideal situation.  In theory, for Cassel there wasn’t any pressure.  He’s had the chance to play with the first offense, with no real need to worry about winning since these games don’t even count.  He should have gone out there without any fear and just “let it fly”.  Instead he’s looked like a guy who has spent all of his time worrying about making a mistake, and unfortunately that’s not a mindset that works in professional football.
Cassel’s habit of making sure his guy is open and then locking onto him has really been his biggest problem.  The worst part is that not only has this caused incompletions, it’s caused him to throw interceptions and has caused his receivers to get nailed after giving the defensive backs another second to come in and make the hit.  Instead of dropping back, planting and letting it go, he's dropped back, planted, then hopped around waiting that extra second to let it go.  His mannerisms for a while now have reminded me of former quarterback Drew Bledsoe, but tonight was the first time I really saw their similarities on the football field.
Needless to say I have a feeling he’ll be returning to Foxboro only to find he’s going to have to clean out his locker.  Belichick has given him every opportunity to show what he could do, but apparently after the second series tonight he had seen enough, and Cassel came off the field for what could be his final time in a Patriots uniform.
It’s really too bad because had he excelled during this preseason he could have given another team a reason to make a run at giving him a shot at a future starting role.  Instead it has just looked like he’s taken a huge step backward, and should he get cut I don’t even know at this point where he would end up.  I don’t see another team looking at his performance during the preseason and taking a chance on him, at least not as a starter. 
Maybe he’s a guy that is just taking longer than expected to develop.  From what I can see it looks like Belichick may be ready to move on.
Some people take advantage of an opportunity and become a household name.  In New England we’ve seen it first hand, and we’ve seen that person lead this team to three Super Bowl victories.  Unfortunately we’ve now also seen what life could be like without him, and if you’re a Patriots fan you can’t be too confident of what the future would hold if “life after Tom Brady” came anytime soon.