Tommy Rider gives you his insight on the man who is replacing Tom Brady from his time with the Patriots.
To most people, Matt Cassel is a bit of an Unknown and how could he not be? The guy hasn't started a game since he was a senior in high school back in 1999. But since I was with the Patriots for most of Cassel's career, I thought I would give a little insight on the guy who has the monumental task of trying to replace Tom Brady for the rest of the season. So, and let me make this perfectly clear, these are MY OBSERVATIONS of Cassel from my time in New England.
--First of all, Cassel won't be blown away by the situation. The guy is cool as a cucumber. He really doesn't let anything get to him. I think Cassel is one of those players who is so laid back that he doesn't even know why he should be nervous. So mentally, I don't believe Cassel will be overwhelmed here because it's just not his nature.
--Physically, Cassel has all the tools to play in the NFL. For the people who have seen him up close, this has never been in doubt. Cassel has a rocket for an arm and great mobility in the pocket. He's actually a much better athlete than Tom Brady. There are some unknown quarterbacks you look at and wonder how they ever had the talent to even make an NFL roster. That's not Cassel. He's loaded with physical ability.
--The biggest problem with Cassel - and one I just can't see him overcoming this week - is the quality Brady is extremely gifted with: a feel for the game. This isn't Cassel's fault. He's been holding a clipboard for close to a decade. In practice, when his first receiver is covered, he's done. This is why I think Herm Edwards should be fired for not pressing the Patriots receivers last week once Cassel came in the game. If you can force him to look off his first receiver, he's going to be in big trouble. Also, he has no pocket presence. Again, that comes from not playing. He makes some terrible throws into traffic. He doesn't see floating defenders sitting back baiting him into throwing the football. Basically, he's a poor man's Drew Bledsoe when it comes to having pocket presence and that mental clock.
--Cassel follows Brady around like a lost puppy. The guy absorbs everything from Brady and I think that will serve him well. He studies hard and does everything the coaches ask of him. Cassel might end up playing awful but it won't be from a lack of preparation. He will be ready to play. I can guarantee that much.
--Finally, Cassel really does have the full support of his teammates. Why? Because he's a likable person. Cassel is probably the nicest guy I met when I worked in the NFL. People want to see him succeed. Let me give you an example. A had a guy send me a video iPod because I gave him a free winner over the radio when he owed his bookie a ton of money. He tells me he sent it but I never got the iPod. So I go looking for it and come to find it out, they delivered it to Cassel instead because of our similar names. I go to get it and there is Cassel taking it out of the package. I walk up and ask, "Hey, don't you have enough money to buy one of those yourself?" To which Cassel responded, "No. You don't get paid that well to carry Brady's bags." That's what I'm talking about. The guy is grounded and understands his role on the team. I think that will help him on Sunday.
So the big question is: Do I think Cassel can succeed? I don't think he will. While I like the guy, I judge quarterbacks on intangibles. I don't care if they can throw the football 60-yards on their knees. That has nothing to do with playing quarterback in the NFL. I judge quarterbacks based on if they can stand tall and deliver the ball when the pocket is collapsing around them. Can they look off their first receiver and get the ball to their second, third or even fourth option? Can they look at a defense and know what is coming before the snap? These are the things I don't think Cassel will be able to do. If the Jets pressure him and jam Randy Moss and Wes Welker at the line, it's going to be a long day for the untested quarterback. But if you ever want to go out and have a good time, Cassel is your man. You should see his girlfriend. Let's just say he doesn't trail Brady by very much in that department.
That is kind of funny, a post from Paul Perillo on pre-game.com. Paul wouldn't post here as Paul and e certainly wouldn't make a comment like that.
I see this Cassel thing as being somewhat like Brady when he first came in. BB is going to bring him along slow. They'll be fine and still win 11 games or so.
In the past 6 years, I don't think I've ever felt as bad as I do about this game for the Pats. If NYJ get a 7 point lead, that is the equivalent of a 21 point lead. I'm a huge Pats fan and have never bet against them, but even I can't pass up NYJ -1.
Brady is slightly taller than Cassel but it's not by much.
I don't know what it is but according to all I've read Brady and Cassel are the same height, 6'4". But when you watch each of them stand in the pocket Brady looks much taller. Maybe it's that Cassel is not really that tall but there is no question that Brady has a pocket presence that Cassel just doesn't posess.
I don't think the Pats defense has to play the perfect game to win. I think the idea is for the defenders to keep everything in front of them and not give up the big play. The more snaps that Favre takes the more chances he has to get impatient and make a mistake, which he absolutely will do. Cassel just needs to be a complimentary piece, the defense turning the ball over will be the deciding factor.
Before Brady got hurt, I felt that the pressure was on the Pats in this game. Being Favre's first home game with the Jets, I thought the emotional lift for NY might be a little too much to overcome, and I actually had penciled in the Jets to win, but now that the Patriots are wounded and few people expect them to win I really like their chances in this game.
Great insight Tommy. I agree that Brady has the gift of always finding the open man. Cassels lack of experience is going to hurt him against the Jets. The Pats defense has to play a perfect game for them to have any chance.
I'm pulling for Cassel to do well. A friend of mine coached him at Chatsworth High School and I met him a couple years ago at Dodger Stadium when the baseball team played in the city championship. Very nice guy and hopefully he'll get better every week. His hometown is pulling for him.
Great Blog. The MAN Genius CAN'T Wait til SUNDAY!