Matt Cassel: How You Like Me Now, Patriots Fans?

Mike DussaultSenior Analyst IOctober 21, 2008

For all those out there that were calling for Matt Cassel's head on a platter, hopefully last night's performance bought him at least another week or two before you give him the axe for Daunte Culpepper.

Was Cassel perfect? Definitely not.

He took six sacks (though there appeared to be miscues by the line and missed assignments by the running backs on more than a couple of them), was knocked down 11 times, and still looked indecisive at times in the pocket.

But you can't argue with the numbers. 

Three touchdowns. Zero interceptions. Passer rating of 136.3 (which ranks in the top 10 all time in Patriots history).

Most importantly, the Patriots are now 4-2.

Oh, and last night's win was the most impressive so far in the NFL of 2008.

Look, there's still a long way to go, and it looks like the Pats will be without Rodney Harrison and Laurence Maroney.

But as we saw last night, games are won in the trenches, and when the Patriots offensive and defensive lines come to play, they can beat anyone.

Cassel's maturation has closely followed that of Tom Brady in 2001. He might not be Tom Brady, but the Patriots certainly are a better team with Cassel at the helm than they would be with any free agent, journeyman veteran.

If Cassel continues to develop the Patriots could make some noise in January.


Other Quick Thoughts

I expect John Lynch to be re-signed any second now. He can fill the linebacker/safety role that Rodney played. You can't help but feel bad for Harrison, one of the true warriors to ever play this game. It was a nice moment when Tedy Bruschi walked out and spoke with him just before he was carted off.

Rodney will surely be missed, but in the wake of seeing Tom Brady go down, no injury seems quite as insurmountable.

I am almost more worried about the Sammy Morris injury. After last night's first half, was anyone particularly concerned about losing Laurence Maroney to season-ending IR? If Morris is out for any length of time, LaMont Jordan better get healthy quickly. Benjarvus Green-Ellis looked good, but show me a running back who hasn't against Denver.

For those Pats detractors who use the "Pats D is old and slow" adage, you're looking even more sorely uninformed now. At times last night, there were three rookies on the field for the Pats, along with second-year player and emerging star Brandon Meriweather. Take Mike Vrabel and Adalius Thomas out of the equation and the entire D is under 30.

As much of an ass-pounding as last night was, I can't help but wonder how different it would've been if Cutler hadn't banged his hand on the first play of the game. The Broncos were moving the ball early. And the Pats were still bringing knives to a gunfight (a.k.a. kicking field goals).

Seems like the football gods just wanted the Pats to have this one. As has often been a signature of the Pats' dynasty, they allowed the Broncos to kill themselves with turnovers and didn't have any of their own.

Is it possible that second-round pick Terrence Wheatley has been passed by Jonathan Wilhite AND Mike Richardson? Wheatley was inactive last night, while Wilhite took over starting RCB duties for an injured Ellis Hobbs. Richardson, just called up from the practice squad Monday, got a lot of snaps at nickel.

Gary Guyton continues to impress, with an athletic fumble recovery.

Big game versus a revitalized St. Louis Rams squad this weekend. 5-2 would be a mighty nice start.


Mike Dussault is the Patriots Community Leader at Bleacher Report, and also a contributor at His Patriots blog can be viewed here and he can be contacted at