The New England Patriots' Quarterback Headache
Traditionally, quarterback controversies are bad news for teams trying to find the “right man” for the job.
It can be a difficult season if a team cannot establish its identity at the quarterback position at the beginning of a season.
Of course, New England Patriots fans saw a similar situation seven years ago, when Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Bledsoe was seriously injured in the second week of the 2001 season.
Bledsoe’s injury paved the way for the incredible career Tom Brady has had.
Matt Cassel seems to be finding his rhythm lately with back-to-back 400 yard passing games, plus running for two touchdowns and leading the Patriots in a beautifully executed two-minute drill to tie the game against the Jets. That looks awfully like Tom Brady.
In 2001, Brady often checked down to Kevin Faulk, and he frequently relied on Troy Brown to lead the offensive charge.
Matt Cassel has Kevin Faulk to help, and two of the best receivers in the NFL, Randy Moss and Wes Welker. After 12 weeks (11 weeks as a starter), it is evident that Cassel is becoming more and more comfortable running the Patriots offense, just as Brady did in 2001.
If Cassel continues to perform exquisitely, what are the Patriots to do? Not a bad situation.
As great as it would to have both Brady and Cassel running the offense, the two will not be able to exist in New England together. The question is, which one leaves?
Tom Brady offers Super Bowl experience, outstanding passing accuracy, great arm strength, wisdom, patience, and poise. He is undoubtedly a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Matt Cassel is 26 years old (five years younger than Brady), has an accurate arm, knows the Patriots' offensive scheme, and has shown the ability to move out of the pocket to throw or run.
It would be hard to see the Patriots part with Tom Brady, and they probably will not.
Since this is Cassel’s contract year, the Patriots should franchise him before free agency begins. This way, they could trade him at the end of the season for draft picks or whomever they desire. Defensive backs would be a great idea!
Rookie quarterback Kevin O’Connell would be expected to be the second-string quarterback to Brady in 2009.
Any New England Patriots fans will have noticed the unbelievable similarities between Cassel and Brady over the last few weeks of NFL action.
Josh McDaniels, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, has done a spectacular job in shaping Matt Cassel into a quarterback that looks seemingly identical to Tom Brady when calling plays, pointing out defenses, and running the shotgun offense.
In theory, if McDaniels can mold Cassel into a Brady-like prototype, then he can probably mold O’Connell into one as well if needed in 2009.
Cassel is doing very well at the moment. If he leads the Patriots into the playoffs, there will be no room for two starting quarterbacks in New England.
With Brady and O’Connell, the Patriots will be fine in 2009. The 2008 season has shown to be a test for the Patriots coaching staff, and thus far, they have done well.
After all, on the Patriots team, if you’re a starter or a backup, when you are in the game, you are prepared to perform in all situations. Thus, it is no surprise that Matt Cassel is playing as well as he is.
Aaron Stella, MT(ASCP)
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