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Cassel: what we've seen so far

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  1. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I started writing this earlier this week. I hoped I'd have happier circumstances to write about, but what happened against PIT doesn't really change what I think here.

    * * * *

    I'll admit it--when I made my roster prediction for the season, I had Matt Cassel off the team. In my defense, though, I made this prediction back in July, before training camp. I figured that, one way or the other, Cassel would play himself off the team--either he'd look good enough that the Patriots would be able to trade him, or that the Patriots might just cut him loose and let him try and latch on with another team.

    I, too, was horrified at what I saw during the preseason; I was shocked at just how bad the Pats looked on offense. I wouldn't have been surprised if Cassel had been cut--I don't count myself as the world's most informed football fan, but, OTOH, I also know BB understands and sees one heck of a lot more than any of us fans do. But when the Pats kept him, I figured that there must be a logical reason; BB wouldn't make such a decision on the spur of the moment.

    Like all of us, my reaction when Brady went down went roughly like this: "Oh s***! . . . I hope he's OK. . . . Oh s***! That means Cassel's the QB, at least for the rest of this game. . . . I hope he does better than he did in the preseason. . . ."

    Remarkably, I realized that Cassel might just have what it takes on his very first series. He was handed the worst possible position--with the ball inside the 2-yard line, and rushing got them nowhere on first and second downs. At this point, I would have settled for anything other than a KC touchdown on a fumble/INT. Needless to say, Cassel had far more faith in himself, and in his teammates, than I--or most Patriots fans--had at that moment; the stands were just about numb in shock. So, with third-and-long, inside the 1, Cassel unleashes a beautiful bomb to Moss which takes the Pats out of the shadow of their endgoal, and out to midfield. Watching the video of that pass on NFL.com is remarkable--you can actually see the crowd coming to their feet as the ball passes by them on their way to Moss. Instead of having to punt, or, worse still, giving up points, Cassel leads the team 99 yards to a touchdown. With that drive, Cassel restored my faith that, even if the Pats weren't likely to win the Super Bowl, they weren't going to just mail it in, either.

    Cassel's confidence in himself is, IMO, one of the main reasons he's still in the NFL. Think about it for a moment--we're talking about a guy who hadn't started a game at QB since HS, and spent his time backing up a bunch of Heisman and Super Bowl winners. In order to have a player like this as your backup, he has to have enormous self-confidence. (In terms of self-confidence, he's had to have as much as Wes Welker and Dustin Pedroia, and maybe even more.) He has to come into work thinking "Yeah, I'm the backup, but I know I can lead this offense if I get the chance." A lot of people vilified him when, before the Super Bowl, he said that he'd rather play and lose then sit on the bench and win. I don't think he'd still be here today if he thought otherwise. In other words, I'd wager that Cassel's train of thought this season has not been about validating BB's faith in him, as much as it's been about showing he can be as good as he believes he is.

    The maturation he's shown over the last three months has been nothing short of incredible. His first few weeks he was playing a game-manager role, very much like Brady's first year. (Although, as Tom Curran put it, he was a game manager "with the pocket presence of a squirrel.") Since the Denver game, though, he's taken on a much larger role--it now comes to the point where instead of winning in spite of Cassel, the team wins because of Cassel. Seriously, consider the Pats' last three losses--Cassel's play hasn't been the primary factor in any of them. (That's true even today, when his play was far worse than it was the last two weeks; Cassel didn't muff a kickoff, miss a field goal, or miss a block on PIT's D.)

    That's not to say that Cassel is the reincarnation of the Tom F****n' Brady almost all of us grew to love last season. He could never be that player. Remember that Brady, unlike Cassel, actually demonstrated that he could run a team in college: after all, he set an Orange Bowl record leading Michigan to a victory there, and was known for his ability to rally his teammates. He also didn't have the weight of having to take over for a QB who had just broken NFL records for wins and TDs. Brady could come in knowing "I've already done it, now I just need to translate my game to the NFL," a mindset Cassel simply cannot have.

    Instead, though Cassel brings his own unique attributes--first, an ability to run that Brady, for better or worse, will never match. (If the defense parts like it did against Buffalo, Cassel can easily take off, knowing he can get 7-10 yards before anyone can reach him.) Second, and just as important, is perspective. If there is one thing that truly surprises me, it's how little he lets mistakes affect him. He doesn't ignore them--he does, in fact, learn from them--but even if one drive ends badly, he's ready to go as soon as the Pats get the ball back. The proof of this was in the JEST game--even with the Patriots down 18 with two minutes to go in the first half, Cassel still had faith he could make a comeback. Just as importantly, he played aggressive, but smart, football (see Rosenfels, Sage, for an example of aggressive but stupid football), running the two-minute drill to near perfection twice. As Bob Ryan said, a DVD of the second drill should be sent to every HS and college in the country; what Cassel had to do in that drive was far harder than either of Brady's SB-winning drives. Yes, his play this week was a disappointment, but, once again, he kept trying to make plays, and, given everything else that went wrong, I'm not going to hold that against him.

    I don't know what the future holds; heck I don't even know what will happen the next four weeks. What I do know is that Cassel is giving 31 front offices ample demonstration of his strengths and his limitations, his ceiling and his floor. Those teams that are looking for QBs will look at his game films, and they'll see all the great passes that clanged off receivers' hands, and they'll also see the times when he locked in on one receiver and missed a wide-open receiver elsewhere. They'll also see his ability to run, and his ability to put passes where only his receivers can make the play.

    Given his performance so far, and the remarkable lack of wear on his treads, so to speak, he almost certainly will find a starter's job somewhere else next year (preferably in the NFC :) ). This week doesn't much change the fact that the Pats may still feel compelled to use the franchise tag (or see the value in it); as I said in another thread, no QB faces the #1 defense in the league in nasty weather 16 times a year. (And given that Cassel grew up in LA, this may have been his first game in nasty weather, ever; I expect he'll do better if he has to play another game in the elements.)

    I'll conclude with one last thought:

    That sounds a lot better than it did six months ago. :)
  2. BRiZ

    BRiZ Rookie

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    Cassel is a scrub. Hopefully we could get a 3rd round pick for him now.
  3. MrBigglesWorth

    MrBigglesWorth Rookie

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    chad jackson was pretty good today:D
  4. billdog3484

    billdog3484 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    def wasnt great but he has been pretty darn good this year. i dont think we should get on him for today.
  5. BradyToMoss

    BradyToMoss Guest

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    One catch for 19 yards, they are bringing him along slowly. They love his upside, he'll start for Denver next season. We never, ever should have let him go. Or are you happy seeing Aiken out there when Welker had to leave?
  6. MrBigglesWorth

    MrBigglesWorth Rookie

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    I was saying this in jest.

    but in reality... i know there are alot of people who want to see gaffney go, but our major problem on offense is running the ball consistently. we need to upgrade a couple spots on the O-line.

    Aiken or Jackson just wouldn't get the reps because of Moss, Welker and Gaffney in front of them.
  7. NEPatriot

    NEPatriot Banned

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    If we won the game today, we would tie Jets in the division but we don't.

    Today game confirms what I thought about Cassel 3 months ago. We can't depend on Cassel to win a game which matters to us. Cassel is a OK QB.

    This will be the first time we loose our division championship and don't make it to the play off.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2008
  8. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    The 2002 season and the JEST game just called. They want to know what games you were watching.
  9. NJPatsfan26

    NJPatsfan26 Rookie

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    Well said.....
  10. BRiZ

    BRiZ Rookie

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    yea when Jackson is lining up opposite Marshall with Royal in the slot with Cutler throwing lasers to CJ you wont be smiling.
  11. NEPatriot

    NEPatriot Banned

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    Football games have been played in harsh conditions such as rain and snow. In these situations, we clearly separate a good QB from a OK QB or the greatest one from a good one. Unfortunately, we don't see it in Cassel.

    We dominated the division for 5 years and can't hold on to the title this year.

    When facing a 'good' team such as Steeler, Colts, and Chargers, Cassel failed miserably.

    As a GM, you have to ask yourself these questions:

    1-Do I really need a QB whom I can't depend on in the most important games?
    2-Do I really need a QB who can't perform well under pressure and bad weather?
  12. NEPatriot

    NEPatriot Banned

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    Hopefully, we will stop talking about 'franchised' Cassel and trading TB.
  13. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    And, somehow, this is solely Cassel's fault.

    The Colts game is also wondering what game you were watching. Cassel didn't lose that game, the rest of the team did.

    I'll give you the Chargers and Steelers, to an extent, but, as I wrote above, Cassel isn't supposed to catch passes, return kickoffs, make tackles, or block defenders--and all of those played just as big a role in the loss today.
  14. PatsFan37

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    3 - Do I really need to analyze the technique, arm strength, accuracy, leadership, mobility and pocket presence he's shown through most of the season, or should I react in a knee-jerk fashion to his very first NFL game played in bad conditions against a top-rated defense?
  15. Box_O_Rocks

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    Well I won't. NE loses and a chronic Cassel hater comes out from under his rock to spank his monkey and proclaim his greatness as a prognosticator, sheesh.

    Yep, Cassel threw a couple clunkers tonight - big whoop, like we've never seen Brady do that. The turning point in tonight's game was Special Teams and injuries. ST's penalties, a turnover, and at least two long returns after losing contain allowed Pittsburgh to stay in the game and then take a lead.

    The Pats ran well on the Steelers, they moved the ball well up until some ugly drops took affect to kill drives. The defense, with three key starters missing, and some subs for subs playing, held Pittsburgh in check until Special Teams hosed them up.

    Yeh, Matt Light gave up a couple sacks - except pass blocking is also a team sport - it would have been nice if Sammy Morris had chipped on the first strip sack instead of just running out into his pass pattern. On the second one Pit created an overload on the right side and drew Kevin Faulk over there to pick up the blitz, leaving Light one-on-one with a top pass rusher who didn't have to honor the run with a huge lead.

    Pit's "great" D was being carved up until Special Teams set them up with a 13 point lead, after that it was bad old "blitzburgh" because NE wasn't running the ball. Pit won by playing smart and taking advantage of NE mistakes - blaming that on Cassel just goes to show us who checks the stat line before they check the scores.
  16. MassPats38

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    Throw in two blatant Moss drops, one in the end zone and one en route to the end zone that could have spotted the Pats 14 points to weather the storm rather than leaving them trailing by 2 scores. Add blind side strips/hits Light's side that maybe only Brady of all NFL QBs could have avoided. Throw in a drop by Gaffney and special team gift wrap of a TD to the Steelers.

    Frankly, I will not join the Cassel for Brady cult, but I will not be putting the emphasis of the blame on him for this. He was the least of the concerns. Certainly some bad throws, but not so many that he cost the Pats a shot at winning the game.

    This game was reminiscent of the 2005 playoff loss in Denver, bad weather, turnovers and including Watson running down the interception return at the goal line. Brady couldn't stop the bleeding then, either. This was not a QB loss, it was a legitimate team loss in all three phases of the game. I still believe Cassel gets a big payday if the Pats make the playoffs, more if he can win a playoff game. I hope he makes his money.
  17. alamo

    alamo praedica numerum! PatsFans.com Supporter

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    The polar-opposite standards you use to judge Cassel vs. Jackson would be hilariously funny if they weren't so patheticly misguided. Cassel has set a franchise passing record for consecutive games. As far as I can tell, Jackson has yet to have even a single very good game in his entire career. Yet, Cassel is a "scrub" and we'll be sorry for letting Jackson go.

    Just goes to show that brains aren't distributed equally.
  18. PJM

    PJM Rookie

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    Actually I have been really impressed by him. Most teams are in trouble if the backup takes over (given that several NFL teams don't have a competent starter, backups are usually poor). Sometimes a team has a top backup in storage (Steve Young, Aaron Rogers etc) and once in a blue moon a miracle happens (Brady). Cassel has been none of the above but he has been much better than I expected. I said in week 1 that the rest of the team had to raise their game and unfortunately they haven't but we have a good shot at a 10-6 or 11-5 record and may yet make the playoffs. I can't understand why the bar has been set so high for Cassel - it's as if some people think Brady is a normal QB and everyone should be able to equal him every week. Who could we have had at backup QB who would have done better?
  19. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    To be fair to the team, injuries have also taken a huge toll. But I agree that the rest of the team has let Cassel down far more often than Cassel has let the team down.
  20. JSn

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    Cassel had the average amount of sucky passes in that game. Overall, I don't think the blame is his. At the outset he made good decisions, read the D well, etc. I think he got nervous after realizing his blindside wasn't protected and that made things worse. I really doubt this game has dropped his stock with the folks that matter.
  21. sieglo

    sieglo Rookie

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    This is really amazing to me. I honestly don't think I watched the same game yesterday that many other seemed to have watched.

    Cassel did not have a great game. But the reason the game was lost had nothing to do with Cassel. It had to do first and foremost with horrible defense, which seems to be a recurring pattern in NE losses. I think many viewers honestly only watch the game when the Pats have the ball.

    In addition to horrible defense, you had pathetic drops by Randy Moss and others. You had breakdowns in the offensive line. Cassel sureley didn't play a great game. But he started well and fell apart after the wheels came off the rest of the team.
  22. PJM

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    One problem Cassel may face in looking for a starting job is the big group of free agent QBs on the market:
    Kurt Warner, UFA, Arizona Cardinals
    Matt Cassel, UFA, New England Patriots
    Kyle Orton, UFA, Chicago Bears
    Jeff Garcia, UFA, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    Rex Grossman, UFA, Chicago Bears
    Kyle Boller, UFA, Baltimore Ravens
    J.P. Losman, UFA, Buffalo Bills
    (2009 NFL Free Agents)
    There is also the real chance that McNabb will move on. I'd put him in the upper half of that group but he may not have his pick of teams.
  23. tanked_as_usual

    tanked_as_usual Banned

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    the defense wasn't that bad .......the steelers generated 20 points and a missed FG off of 97 yards of offense.........

    the steelers did a great job in confusing cassel by taking away the middle ....... cassel has little to no ability for improvisation
  24. stcjones

    stcjones Rookie

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    Very very good realistic post here......When Cassel has had to make the plays and lead this team against GOOD defenses....he has failed as you say....pretty miserably.....

    Against the KC's.....Denver's......etc....he has looked good.....

    I don't see any top GM's or coaches gunning for the kid after yesterday....Besides that, his INABILITY overall to make plays in the red zone is a huge red flag........FG team!!!!
  25. stcjones

    stcjones Rookie

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    In fairness, you are right....It had to do with alot more than just Matt Cassel....the whole team laid an EGG once AGAIN!!!! 5 turnovers.....Matt Light getting his panties caught around his ankles play after play........The entire OL getting prison raped....leading to 5 sacks.....and the D....don't even get me started on them.........ouch.....

    I just don't think Cassel can make it happen against the top D's in the league right now.....which is what the discussion topic is about.......whereas Brady always seemed to make something out of nothing.....can't wait for him to get back!
  26. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    The top GMs and coaches already have QBs, anyways.

    I don't know what yardstick you're using, but given how little support he's had from the rest of the team, he's done a damn good job so far.
  27. NEPatriot

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    He runs the offense. If you look in Pats' O, what do you see? you see the same players minus TB?

    Cassel turned this group upside down. The saddest part is we can't hold on to the division champion and won't make it to the playoff with an EASY schedule. How long has he been in the system? I don't see much from a 4 year system guy.

    How pathetic is that?
  28. NEPatriot

    NEPatriot Banned

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    This is not the FIRST time Cassel scored less than 18 points. Remember Chief and first Jets or Dolphins and other games?

    Oh, we didn't play in bad weather, did we? We didn't score a lot of points against Chief either. Why am I surprised!

    Excuses are for irresponsible losers.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2008
  29. Box_O_Rocks

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    Wow, think how bad he'd stink if football was a team sport!

    I dunno, why are you surprised? I mean NE should be 0-12 based on your assessments to date.

    I'm sure none of the excuses you've made for NE winning a game with Cassel under center could ever cause this to apply to you.
  30. NEPatriot

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    Who gets the ball first? Cassel.
    Who throws the ball? Cassel.
    Who hands the ball to RB? Cassel.

    Is this team better off with TB than Cassel? Absolutely.

    Easy schedule. How pathetic is it when we don't make it to the playoff and hold on to #1 AFC East division with this schedule?

    You feel good about our win? How did it happen? We faced lousy teamS. What happened when we faced good teams? We were CRUSHED.
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