The talking heads have spoken. Matt Cassel has gone from Brady's heir-apparent after having two back-to-back 400-yard games to the inexperienced backup who lost TWO fumbles in last night's loss to Pittsburgh.
They're like the Red Sox. The team leading the A.L. East losses and all they need to do is win to take a share of the lead back and they play really well to start it off, but a few mistakes cost them the game.
This game, I am giving a little leeway to Matt; it was nasty, his receivers couldn't catch the ball, and they were playing a phenomenal defense. It just got to Matt. That's where you can see his inexperience showing through, in the bad-weather games when it's cold and the defense is really good.
Is Matt Cassel the heir-apparent to Brady? No. Matt Cassel is passing his graduate exam from Brady-U. So far, he's done pretty well. If you look at the games we lost (aside from the San Diego game), they were all because of mistakes: a fumbled snap, penalties, bad defense in sudden-death overtime, or three fumbles and two interceptions like last night.
I'm still not sure we would have won the game last night, but we should have beaten the Jets by holding them to 3rd-and-long in overtime, and we should have beaten the Colts, were it not for a penalty and Jab not being able to catch a perfect pass. While some of these things can be attributed to Matt Cassel, there are also many beyond his control.
Brady is still better in the pocket in reading defense, finding the open man, and getting away from tackles. So, do I think Brady will be replaced by free-agent Cassel? No. Do I think he's better than most starting quarterbacks in the league? Definitely. I think at the end of this season, especially if the Patriots pull off a miracle and make it into the playoffs, Detroit or Minnesota should come calling.
With their running game, decent set of receivers, and good defense, Minnesota would flourish with a QB who is not a turnover machine and who can hit his receivers. If they were to add in Matt Cassel, Minnesota would be even more of a playoff contender.
Detroit would need more help than just adding a good QB to the mix; that organization needs a makeover from top to bottom. But still, the addition of Cassel would dramatically improve their chances.
So, back to the Brady-Cassel debate: There shouldn’t even be one. Yes, Tom has been injured this season, and yes, he probably won’t be his normal self at first, but he’ll only be 32.
We’ve got him for three to five years or more, barring injury, and since he doesn’t seem to be injury prone, this being his first big one, Tom Brady should be right back in the starter position.
Cassel is a better running QB, but he’s not quite good enough in other areas to replace the reigning league MVP who is simply not done yet.
Do I think Matt Cassel will be a starter? Of course he will. Teams with subpar QBs would be crazy to not snatch him up, and he will do well: He’s trained under the best and come up in one of the best systems out there.
My prediction is the Pats and Matt part ways amicably, and he’ll head off to go be great somewhere else.