Remember 3 months ago, when after the final preseason game, it was almost certain that Matt Cassel would be cut? Back then, I had more confidence in him than most fans; the vast majority of whom were looking for a public hanging of him in the town square at the end of preseason. I figured Cassel could step in and be adequate, if God forbid, Tom Brady went down with an injury. He had three years of experience working the offense and during that time, was the caddy for the best QB in football and must have learned something along the way from Brady. However, I freely admit I had my doubts about Cassel, particularly after the first Dolphins game and his DREADFUL performance in the San Diego loss.
Over the last several weeks, Cassel has shown continuous improvement and increasing comfort in the pocket and reading defenses. We all were impressed last week with the way he led the team back vs. the Jets in Foxboro. However, we were all still concerned about his ability to hit passes longer than 20 yards.
Today? Matt Cassel was awesome! No, make that HOLY CRAP AWESOME! Cassel was 30-43, 415 yds, 3 TD passes, 1 rushing TD, and 1 INT (which was not his fault). He could've had even more yards, if Jabar Gaffney hadn't dropped a perfectly placed throw. Gaffney would've been running for a while if he had held onto that pass.
What we saw today from Cassel was toughness, poise, competitive fire, and calm in the eye of the storm with blitzers in his face. Time after time, Cassel delivered passes that sliced up the Dolphins secondary with surgical precision. His ability to move in the pocket and escape the rush has turned into a major asset for the offense. No longer is Cassel the undecisive statue standing in the pocket waiting to be sacked.
Some of my favorite highlights of the day: The QB sneak in which he was initially stopped, but he kept driving his legs and pulled Dolphins defensive linemen for a six yard gain. Then as he got up he got his helmet in the face of a few of the Dolphin tacklers. I'm guessing he probably told those Dolphin defenders, the next time they get taken for a ride like that to bring cab fare. How about the perfectly thrown 29 yd. TD pass to Randy Moss? How about him making play after play, despite knowing he was going to get drilled by a Dolphins defender?
That was a Brady-esque 2007 performance by Matt Cassel today. Ultimately, I think the 2008 Patriots are doomed because of their pourous secondary. Their secondary is so bad, former Patriot DB reject Earthwind Moreland looks like a Pro Bowler compared to this edition of the secondary. However, the vast improvement of Matt Cassel (as well as surprise contributions from fourth string running back Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis) has made this season an entertaining one to watch.