Signs of a Fluke: How I Knew Derek Anderson Was, and Why Matt Cassel Isn't

Erin McLaughlinSenior Analyst IIMarch 20, 2009

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 28:  Matt Cassel #16 of the New England Patriots looks for a receiver during the game against the Buffalo Bills on December 28, 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

So often we see quarterbacks get a chance to play due to unforeseen circumstances and they surprise a lot of people. Often times they go into the next season and look nothing like they did the year before—and they get labeled a one-year wonder.

Others build off the confidence they gained and take it to the next level, as Tom Brady did.

So how do you know if your young quarterback is the real deal or not?

There are some clear warning signs that your guy is a fluke. Derek Anderson showed all of them; Matt Cassel showed none of them.

Here are those signs.

1. Red hot start

There is no denying that Anderson came out with all guns blazing, while Cassel was not all that impressive at the start.

2. Declining numbers to end the season

Anderson threw more interceptions than touchdowns the last few weeks of the 2007 season; he wasn't efficient at all. Cassel steadily got better as the season progressed, and even became more comfortable going deep.

3. Strong performances came when no pressure was on

Anderson took over with the idea of filling in while Brady Quinn was developing. There really was no pressure for him to perform. Cassel took over the Patriots and was expected to play like Brady. If that isn't pressure, I don't know what is.

4. Poor performances in big games

Against the Patriots and Steelers, Anderson was very ineffective. Then, in week 15, he cost his team a trip to the playoffs. Cassel made a remarkable pass to Randy Moss to force overtime against the Jets in a huge game. They lost due to a bad OT rule when they didn't get the ball; the next week against the Dolphins, he lit them up. Division games were the big ones for the Pats last year.

5. Was Unimpressive Prior to Big Year

Anderson got cut in Baltimore because the coaches were more impressed with Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright. He also wasn't impressive in the preseason that year. Quinn was the best QB in the games, but Romeo Crennel didn't want to start a rookie.

Although Cassel didn't play in college, his battle for the starting job at USC with Matt Leinart went down to the wire. In fact, it was actually quite even, but the tiebreaker was that Leinart had three more years of eligibility while Cassel only had two. Even still, he was impressive enough to make the Patriots team, and eventually become the back up, before finally getting a chance.

Based on all this, Kansas City fans can be excited and Cleveland fans should continue to be grateful that Quinn was never traded.


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