Monday, October 27, 2008

Matt Cassel versus Brad Johnson

Which backup quarterback, called upon by a talented offensive team predicted by many to reach the Super Bowl, would you rather have? Both of these backups recently played the resurgent St. Louis Rams at home, with mixed results.

The veteran backup: 17 of 34 for 234 yards, 1 TD, 3 Int's, and 14 points in a losing effort.

The untested youngling: 21 of 33 for 267 yards, 1 TD, 2 Int's and 23 points in a victory.

Call me crazy, but I'll take Matt Cassel over Brad Johnson. After a frustrating, but ultimately victorious effort againast the Rams, Cassel and the Patriots are now 5-2, tied for the division lead with the Bills, who lost at Miami. Cassel is still working through his growing pains, but yesterday was a huge step for the kid who never really played college ball. He still has the tendency to tuck the ball and run around in an un-athletic manner, but for the first time yesterday I actually saw Cassel feel the pass rush around him, stay focused down field, and deliver the football. Cassel's numbers from yesterday are even a bit negatively skewed by the fact that the usually sure-handed Randy Moss having one ball bounce off of him for an interception and having another touchdown slip right through his hands. But beyond the numbers, what was most impressive was the fact that this team managed to win a close game under a Cassel, a game where they were trailing in the 4th quarter.

As I've said in past weeks, the key to this Patriot team lies with the defense, which, nearly halfway through the season is 5th in the AFC in points allowed, behind only Tennessee, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland. The stats againast the Rams don't look great, but the 16 points isn't bad, particularly when you consider that other than the one long touchdown pass to Donnie Avery, the Pats kept the Rams out of the end zone.

With 9 games left, my prediction of 10-12 wins seems well within reach. A few weeks ago, this Colts game coming up seemed like a long shot, but I'm not so hopeless anymore. Of course Peyton is terrifying, but hell, he was terrifying when he was on and we actually had Brady. One things certain and that's that things are starting to get interesting for the 2008 Patriots.


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