I'll never forget the moment when I saw Bernard Pollard buckle up under Tom Brady's knee. Brady's season was over and Matt Cassel's only just began. Patriots fans were worried, they thought their season was over.
I however did not see the situation as being so glum. I knew very well that Tom Brady had been a quarterback who had flourished in New England's system then finally reached his peak with the aid of Randy Moss. The question still had to be asked.
Could Matt Cassel possibly be effective in New England?
Keep in mind that he had not started a game since 1999 in high school. How could a player like that ever succeed in the NFL? After all, he's no Tom Brady.
True that Cassel was no Tom Brady, but no one should ever fail to underestimate the power of the "system" in place in New England. Patriots fans especially are guilty for their belief that Tom Brady is more exceptionally gifted then he really is. Don't get me wrong, he is very good but he had also been a major product of his system.
Don't believe me?
In comes Matt Cassel. A player with virtually no experience in the college or pro ranks. He is not as physically gifted as Tom Brady. Yet, could he still be effective? Prior to this Sunday's game, his quarterback rating this season has been a 87.3. Do you realize that rating is almost identical to Tom Brady's career quarterback rating before Randy Moss came in 2007?
So essentially, his numbers have been Tom Brady-esk circa 2001-2006. How on earth could a player with no experience who lacks exceptional physical abilities do this?
The answer lies within the system of New England. It always helps to have a quality defense back you up. Also, just as Randy Moss had done his entire career, he has managed to make another quarterback look good. I've always said that he made a good quarterback in Tom Brady look great and he'll make a bad quarterback in Matt Cassel look good.
Hate to say I told you so.
True, its not all due to Randy Moss' contributions, New England has an excellent system set up. To prove me point, look at the numbers. In Tom Brady's career of 130 total games, he threw for over 400 yards a total of zero times. In the past two weeks, Matt Cassel has managed to eclipse the 400 yard mark twice.
Last week he became the only player in NFL history to throw for over 400 yards and rush for over 60 in a single game. He led the Patriots on a comeback drive and threw the game-tying touchdown pass to none other then Randy Moss with one second left. Very reminiscent of Tom Brady if you ask me.
Now this week he he threw for 415 yards, 3 touchdown passes and ran in for a 4th. Not bad for a quarterback with no experience who was randomly thrown into the mix.
No one believed me when Brady first went down but there is no question that the power of New England's system can produce positive quarterback play regardless of who is under center.