Can Matt Cassel (16) lead the Pats to the playoffs without Tom Brady (12)?
With QB Tom Brady lost for the year, it is very easy to look at the New England Patriots' football team and figure that they are done for the year, but this is still a squad that has the ability to make the playoffs and win the AFC East title.
Why will Matt Cassel be alright?
- First, the obvious. Yes, Tom Brady was the MVP of the league last year. Yes, he took New England to their fourth Super Bowl, has won three of those games, and was twice named MVP of those games. I get it. Tom Brady is an excellent quarterback, because he is willing to settle for the check down to a running back, tight end, or other third or fourth option.
- Brady is able to do so because that offensive line is so consistently effective. If he didn't have time to check down, he would struggle more frequently, as he did in the Super Bowl against the Giants' defensive front. Matt Cassel will have the same offensive line as Brady and should be effective because of that.
- While Brady does go deep often enough to keep the defense honest, he did not attempt as many deep balls until Randy Moss joined the team. While Cassel is not Tom Brady, Randy Moss is still on the team. He can use Moss to stretch the field and hit Welker underneath the same way Brady did. Further, if you watched Brady's deep passes last year, Moss made some down-right amazing catches that bailed Brady out in situations where if anybody but Randy Moss was back there, the ball would have been incomplete or intercepted quite frequently. I think Cassel can be bailed out the same way.
- This is still Bill Bellichick's team, and he seems confident going forward with Matt Cassel. Things can change quickly in the NFL, but I think Bellichick feels Matt Cassel can get the job done only if he is confident. By not bringing another quarterback in right away, Bellichick is saying to Matt Cassel, "You have the ability to lead this team, and we have complete faith that you will lead us to another division title." At least that's how I heard it.
While I don't think this the same team without Tom Brady, this Patriots team still has the talent, the experience, and even the schedule to win at least 10 games. I'm still not sold on any other team in the division, and even Brett Favre's luck can only take the Jets so far.
It was the Dolphins for god's sake. Let's settle down with the whole "Brett Favre saves the Jets" routine. It was one game against one of the worst teams in the league. The AFC East is still the Patriots division to lose.
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