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The Incredible Journey of Matt Cassel

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by patchick, Sep 9, 2008.

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  1. patchick

    patchick Moderatrix Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I hope everybody (and that includes you, lurking journalists) is able to take a moment to look away from who's not QB for the Patriots this week, and contemplate the amazing human-interest story of the man who is.


    Matt Cassel was the proverbial golden boy. Growing up in Southern California, he was an all-sports standout. As a Little Leaguer he helped lead his town to the Little League World Series. As a high school student, he made headlines and all-star lists as the star of the football and baseball teams, leading both to city titles. He was intensely recruited as a college quarterback, and chose the ultimate SoCal golden boy dream: quarterback for USC. He had the world by a string.

    As it happened, though, he wasn't the only golden boy who committed to USC. After a redshirt year, he spent his freshman and sophomore seasons on the bench as the #2 QB behind Heisman winner Carson Palmer. No shame in that. Junior year the team would be his...except it wasn't. Heading into the season, young Matt Leinart narrowly beat out Cassel for the starting job. Leinart became King of L.A., Cassel became invisible. Facing two more seasons on the bench, he had a tough decision: stick it out, or transfer to a lower-division school where he could finally play football again?

    Cassel stuck with USC, and even agreed to play some tight end to get onto the field. He may have still been one of the top QB prospects on the country, but who would know? He entered the 2005 draft as a football player who didn't play football, a QB who hadn't started a game since high school.

    Yet against all odds, Cassel was drafted. The Patriots took a flyer in the 7th round, intrigued by his potential. A major draft website flayed the Patriots for the pick, calling it an "arrogant" move by Scott Pioli, a selection of a worthless player just to make the exec look smarter than everyone else. Here at PatsFans.com, the phrase "wasted pick" seemed like Cassel's middle name.

    But darned if the kid didn't make the roster. He worked hard, studied hard, and soon found himself in a familiar position: backup to a superstar. A season passed, then two, then three. Cassel began this season as a dedicated professional football player who hadn't seen meaningful time on the field in nine years.

    Think about that. How can that possibly feel?

    In 2008 he had a weak preseason, and many fans and journalists predicted he'd be cut. But again, he stuck it out. And then it happened. First game of the year, the reigning NFL MVP goes down.

    This Sunday Matt Cassel, the most patient football player in America, gets his first start of the 21st century. Leading the defending conference champions, opposite Brett f'in Favre. How's that for a story to root for?


    And p.s....Matt Leinart's warming the bench in Arizona on Sunday.
     
  2. JSn

    JSn Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    Thanks for that post, Patchick. I knew bits and pieces of that stuff.

    Good stuff and you're right, the distractions are all-time, but no one will feel calm until we're running up the score on Sunday. :D
     
  3. NJPatsfan26

    NJPatsfan26 In the Starting Line-Up

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    Good stuff and I agree...this sunday will be a great example of how the 2008 Patriots will reign....
     
  4. bakes781

    bakes781 In the Starting Line-Up

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    Thanks for this post! :) It would be something if this kid could actually get it done. The OL & running game really need to step it up now!
     
  5. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    :eek: And Carson Palmer is starting for the Bengals! :rofl:
     
  6. The Boston Patriot

    The Boston Patriot PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Thanks PC,

    This guy has worked hard and deserves his shot. I wish fans would just back
    off for the time being and let this play out without the usual character
    assassination rhetoric. In BB I trust he is doing what is best for the team
    and if he says this is it, I've got his back. Give 'm hell Matty, best the Jets!
     
  7. TheGodInAGreyHoodie

    TheGodInAGreyHoodie Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    Post of the Year!
     
  8. nowayback

    nowayback Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    Holley said on show today.....that cassell beat (or was beating out) out leinart for starting job....but got injured and lost it
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2008
  9. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey

  10. patchick

    patchick Moderatrix Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #11 Jersey

    You know, I think Holley may be mixing up his Matts. It was Matt Gutierrez who won the starting job at Michigan, then got injured and lost it.
     
  11. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi PatsFans.com Supporter

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    On the interview I linked to, Carroll basically said Cassel and Leinart were about equal - but equally bad in the spring practice - they had to pick someone and Leinart ran with it. He said Cassel had a great workout at the USC pro day which is what got the buzz going.
     
  12. apple strudel

    apple strudel Banned

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    Matt's story is a good one, but I find the comparison of Cassell's situation to Leinart's to be spurious. Cassell is only starting due to injury. Minus the catastrophic injury to Tom, he too would be warming the bench on Sunday.
     
  13. Leave No Doubt

    Leave No Doubt PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Awesome post pc! "The most patient football player in America" now has the chance of a lifetime. His story makes you fall in love with him, doesn't it?

    Which is EXACTLY what fans need to do right now. Once we've done that we've got his back forever. I hope the media runs with this-I mean, what a GREAT lesson for young kids, too as I think about it.

    Absolutely worthy story:rocker:
     
  14. MassPats38

    MassPats38 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Well done post, patchick. It's been about 7 years since New England fans can genuinely claim they are cheering for an underdog, and Cassel is a genuine underdog in the eyes of every other NFL team.

    It was great seeing him throw that 50 yard bomb to Moss, and it will be greater still if he can show with preparation that he can lead this team down the road to the playoffs and championship. He is the man for the job, and I will be cheering for him.

    As for the negativity, I do not fault the fans for mourning the loss of Brady for the season as I suspect most fans have watched him since he was a rookie and have personally enjoyed all his success. It would however be nice to see a little more logic behind criticisms that Cassel is not the man for the job, notwithstanding his inexplicable place on the roster over the past several years if he truly doesn't add value as a quarterback. If you believe in Belichick and Pioli and have any understanding of how they work, his presence likely is not so inexplicable and you can answer your own criticism.
     
  15. PAPatsjunkie

    PAPatsjunkie On the Game Day Roster

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  16. signbabybrady

    signbabybrady Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    I think I am sold....great post....great story.....that needs a great ending. If he does pull this off or if he does prove he can play what a story of perserverance, dedication, hard work, patience, and not to be overlooked confidence (to remain confident in his skills despite not being able to show it off).
     
  17. PATRIOTSFANINPA

    PATRIOTSFANINPA Pro Bowl Player

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    #12 Jersey

    Great post PC and its truly an huge underdog player against all odds trying to overcome it.

    I like Matt Cassel as a guy who fought for a position on one of the NFLs elite teams and he seems like a nice young guy

    BUT

    I still have doubts he can carry this team as we will see one way or the other shortly

    I do know that fans in here who are showing LOVE for Matt right now will be the same fans asking for his head if the team starts to lose on a regular basis so for those who have the confidence in Matt NOW then you should not be asking for his head later, if you stick with the teams decision now then you should stick with what BB decides to continue to start Matt even if the team starts to lose more often than normal.

    I am looking forward to seeing this teams upcoming games to see what to expect from Mr.Cassel in the latter stages of the season
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2008
  18. ALP

    ALP Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    p.p.s.....Carson Palmer ain't doing too hot
     
  19. signbabybrady

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    ppps ..... don't say that I want to sit here thinking he is as good as he was before his injury
     
  20. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Looking at his stats, his "decline" doesn't look like it was a failure to return to full health but just the general deterioration of the Bengals. His QB rating went from 101 to 94 when he returned and his YPA actually went up from 7.5 to 7.8. Both those numbers were lower last year but the Bengals had become totally dysfunctional by then. His stats were basically unchanged when he returned from a torn ACL/MCL and dislocated kneecap in 9 months.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/stats?playerId=4459
     
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