Monday, September 15, 2008

Cassel Watch

Patriots 19 Jets 10. Different quarterback, same story as the Patriots rolled to yet another victory over the Jets, their 11th in their past 12 matchups. A bit more on the game in a second, but first, a check on Matt Cassel, who completed 16 of 23 passes for 165 yards, 0 TD's and 0 Ints. For those counting, this means that in 10 quarters (2&1/2 games) Cassel is now 40 of 61 (65.6%) for 485 yards, 3 TD's and 0 Ints.

There's not all that much to say about a game that before last year would have been considered a typical Patriots win. The media tends to get wrapped up in offensive production, but the media tends to forget that these Patriots have won a great many more games in the style they did yesterday than they did with Brady chucking the ball left and right in last year's fantasy season. The defense was great, the Patriots ran the ball and stuck with the run, and the special teams gave the Patriots the field position edge all day long. It's a recipe for success this season and we'll see how far it takes these Pats. For now, at 2-0, I the road to a 6th straight division title seems wide open. The Jets were supposed to be the challenger because of Favre- And I know the bills are an impressive 2-0, but their quarterback is Trent Edwards, a guy who has six more career touchdown passes than Matt Cassel. Even if the Bills defense is comparable to the Pats- a questionable proposition- we still have Randy Moss while they have Lee Evans.

Obviously, the big tests will be when the Patriots play the league's elite teams, but given how the season has shaped up so far, I'm not quite sure who those teams are. For now though, even with Cassel, the team with the 21 game regular season winning streak needs to be talked about with the rest of the league's elite, or at least until someone really embarrasses them.

The positives from yesterday's Jets game? LaMont Jordan, who looked like an absolute beast and who was really the only running back to get consistent yardage. The secondary, which looked better againast Favre than it did againast Damon Huard. Coles had big yardage on a broken play, but other than that, Cotchrey had 1 catch and Favre spent most of the day checking down to backs and tight ends. Overall, the defense just looked really damn good- and how awesome was that sack by Adalius Thomas, taking down Leon Washington and Brett Favre with his monstrous arms for a 15 yard-loss.

The negatives? The offensive line did not block well. While LaMont Jordan looked good, Sammy Morris and Lawrence Maroney had 16 carries for 16 yards. The Jets though, we're clearly ready for the Pats to run the football- perhaps more concerning is the pressure the Jets put on Cassel all day, sacking him 3 times while getting many more good hits on him. If you want to know why the Pats didn't go downfield in the passing game, I'd look squarely at the offensive line.

One final thing to keep in mind and that's the way the Jets shut down Brady in Moss in their last matchup, week 15 last year in Foxboro. The Pats won 20-10, in the only game all year Brady failed to throw a touchdown. Like that game, the Jets continued yesterday to work to take Randy Moss out of the game and were pretty damn successful, holding him to only 2 catches. What I'm trying to say here is that Mangenius knows how to game plan for Brady and Belichick, so maybe even with Brady we would have been happy with a 19-10 win. Not that Cassel is Brady by any means, only that his unassuming numbers from yesterday may be a bit more impressive than they look.


Anonymous rose said...

How disappointing does Laurence Maroney continue to be? Every time it looks like they might be able to count on this guy week in week out he disappoints with either ineffectiveness or an injury.

He has every physical tool a runner needs, yet he can't outshine the likes of Faulk, Morris and Jordan. And don't get me wrong, all three are quality backs that bring special skills to the table. Morris' hands continue to be a revelation, I don't think anyone knew how effective a pass catcher he would be.

But cmon. At 23 with blazing speed, shiftiness and power Maroney should be consistently ripping off big gains for this team. It was eye opening to watch Adrian Peterson play followed by Maroney. Peterson does everything at full speed, not even bothering to run low through the line, but preferring just to get through as fast as possible. Then you watch Maroney. Maroney has shown similar physical tools in the past, especially when in the open field, but his style between the tackles couldn't be any more different.

Someone needs to get the guy to use his burst at the line of scrimmage and not just downfield.

And they need it to happen now. Because with out Brady this team is really going to struggle to open up the ground game against the great run defenses. Morris and Jordan are both solid backs, but are slow to the hole and will not create much on their own. If the Pats played the Steelers right now they simply would not move the ball on the ground.

3:02 PM  
Blogger lonely libertarian said...

Ugh, let's not even talk about Maroney.

Belichick though, is looking very smart for bringing in LaMont Jordan, giving the Pats another guy who's a capable runner on the NFL level.

4:10 PM  

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