Thursday, September 25, 2008

Panic in Patriot Nation

There are a lot of Patriots fans out there that don't seem to pay close attention to what's going on around the league, or that even know their history. I know that, for the most part, if you're reading this, I'm preaching to the choir, but I still have to get this off my chest.

After the beat down the Pats suffered at the hands of the Dolphins this weekend, a lot of the fans on the message boards, particularly at the Boston Globe and Yahoo, are calling for the Pats to sign Duante Culpepper. Yeah, the same Culpepper that was having trouble playing his way out of a paper bag when he had the Baltimore power running game behind him. The same Culpepper that is failing to generate interest from Kansas City, Detroit, and Cleveland - all winless teams suffering from poor quarterback play as much as from anything else.

Consider since 2001, as a starter, Culpepper has a record of 30 wins and 44 losses, has started 16 games only twice during that time, has averaged 11.1 interceptions per season (but 17 per 16 games), 15.5 touchdowns per season, and has been sacked 3.2 times per start (to put some of that into perspective - Tom Brady has been sacked an average of 1.8 times per start, or an average of 22.4 fewer times over every 16 game season; and 12.5 INT's per 16 games).

Sure, people aren't clamoring for him to replace a struggling Brady - they're clamoring for him to replace what they perceive as a struggling Cassel. Before you go calling for the head of the Pats back-up, think about this -

Culpepper is not the answer - if you think he is, if he was such an answer, why aren't any other team's looking at him? he's done.

As for Cassel -

a) That game wasn't his fault. he didn't give up 38 points. The defense seldom stopped a team that couldn't win more than one game last year. With the Dolphins far out in front, they were able to load up against the running game and basically dare the Patriots to win on the arms of Cassel.

b) A look at Brady's second game? a 30-10 loss to the dolphins in which he passed for a total of 86 yards, no TD's, no INT's and was sacked 4 times for 17 yards of losses. Cassel passed for 131 yards and a TD (1 int), and was sacked 4 times for 19 yards. additionally, the Brady led pats in that 2001 game lost three fumbles. The Patriots lost only one turnover this past Sunday.

Back in '01, after the team got shellacked, Pats fans just saw another losing season ahead of them with a back-up slogging his way through the season in place of his more accomplished predecessor.

No - Cassel is no Tom Brady, but Brady didn't light it up his first two games as a starter either -

Brady's line through his first two NFL starts...

25 for 47 (53.2 percent completion rate), 254 yards, 5 sacks for 26 yards, no TD's, no INT's.

Cassel -

35 for 54 (64.8 percent completions), 296 yards, 7 sacks for 28 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT.

If anything, Cassel has had a slightly better first two games than Brady. Be patient.

This and that...

Make no mistake, I want the Red Sox to repeat as World Series champs. However, given Hank Steinbrenner's whining about how divisional play and the wild card give other teams an unfair competitive advantage (yes, the same Steinbrenner whose payroll is roughly $70.4 million higher than the next highest team and $90 million more than the Dodgers that he singled out) I would be perfectly happy seeing the Rays, who carry a payroll roughly a quarter that of the Yanks, walk home with this year's championship.

I would be happy to see the Brewers win, even at the expense of the Sox (not thrilled, mind you), but it would be a nice FU to the way the Steinbrenner family has done business.

Anyone else waiting for the Ford Family to say April Fools, no we really still have Matt Millen as our GM. The fact the man set a new standard for futility as a GM is impressive - particularly in an era that has seen the likes of Carl Peterson of the Chiefs, Jay Zygmunt of the Rams, Bill Bavasi of the Mariners, and, of course, Isiah Thomas of the Knicks. The fact he finagled a contract extension during that stretch is nothing less than puzzling. It never fails to amaze me that Lions fans didn't march on the stadium with torches and pitchforks.

Speaking of puzzling - how did Omar Minaya manage a contract extension in the middle of a second consecutive collapse?

Finally, with all the hits cycling has taken in the last two years, all the suspensions of many of the sport's top talents, am I the only one out there thinking that Lance Armstrong, in spite of his age, should be considered the favorite to win next year's Tour de France? I also suspect, considering he's riding gratis, that this is, more or less, a BIG FU to the French.


Suldog said...

Heck, you know Boston fans. Every loss signals impending Armageddon, and every win means that we'll never lose again.

I think the Culpepper folks like to imagine the Culpepper-Moss days with the Vikings. I look at those days and see that Culpepper was never the same QB after Moss left. I think we all know who was the major part of that combo.

Kevin Smith said...

I think it says just as much about who the co-MVP should have been that season as it does about Culpepper's career.

It does amaze me. And yes, I know Boston fans, but you would think that a few more of us would remember the lessons of 2001.

Chris Stone said...

Watching Brady that first year was what made me into such a Pats fan. It wasn't that he always succeeded... its that he made things happen. It was "interesting." (Scouts complained that the rookie Gholston of the Jets looked "boring" on film. Its a funny way to talk about players... but I think it shows the non-stat part of success.)

My own theory is that they were hoping Cassel could hang in there until they felt O'Connell ready. And... any veteran quarterback capable of winning isn't sitting at home by the phone.

Cassel isn't a total disaster quite yet. Give him a few weeks!