After the New England Patriots beat the New York Jets early in the season, I wrote a post here on Bleacher Report that compared newly-crowned Patriot QB Matt Cassel to the veteran Jets QB Brett Favre.
It was a gutsy call at the time but I voted in favor of Cassel in the comparison. Well the season is now over and both the Patriots and Jets are watching the playoffs from their living room recliners. I stand by my vote for Cassel though.
Replacing the injured Tom Brady in New England was a difficult task for a QB who had not started since high school. The Patriots fans expected nothing less than a return to the Super Bowl this year. The pressure was on.
During the season Cassel also dealt with some personal tragedy with the death of his dad in California.
Cassel did indeed outplay and outshine the veteran Favre on that early Autumn day in Giants Stadium, but the most important thing is he also did this down the stretch of the season. The Patriots were undefeated in December in their run to the playoffs thanks in part to Cassel's leadership. Meanwhile, the Jets tanked, losing four of their last five games.
Now as we sit here watching everyone else in the playoffs Eric Mangini is now the "former coach" of the New York Jets and Brett Favre is on the verge of retirement...again. Matt Cassel is believed to be on the verge of being labeled the Patriots' "franchise" player.
The "franchise" tag is no doubt protecting the Patriots' interest, but back when I wrote my original post who would have thought that at the end of this season that Cassel would be starting out 2009 in the catbird seat as he looks to next season with the Patriots or as a starting QB with another team?
I can not say I could have predicted all of this but I did believe that Cassel was on his way.
Way to go Matt Cassel. Good luck in 2009 wherever you may play. You will be playing and making a big impact.