Monday, September 08, 2008

The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling!

That's the news about the Pats from just about everyone except for ESPN's Michael Smith.

I won't deny that Tom Brady's injury is a big loss for the Patriots. It's huge. But it doesn't mean the season is over for the rest of the team - it just means the end of the season for Tom Brady.

Things have gotten considerably harder for the Patriots - that's a given. However, there's still a good core of players on this team around Matt Cassel. Yes, Brady made the team around him better, winning Super Bowls with the likes of Troy Brown and David Patten as his top two receivers. Right now Cassel has receivers around him and runners behind him that will make him better. The team is going to need that to win.

Even with Brady out, there is reason to believe.

In 2001 a little known late round draft pick who had previously been drafted to play baseball came into an early season game when the star quarterback went down with a potentially season ending injury. The back-up was something of a surprise of a draft pick given that he was behind a much more highly regarded quarterback at his Alma-mater (Brian Griese) and as a starter he shared playing time with his back-up (Drew Henson). This was seen by many scouts as an indictment of his ability.

Every Pats fan knows the story, and they would all be lying if they didn't to a man say that they thought the season was over when the star went down.

Are the Pats going to catch lightning in a bottle twice? I have my doubts, but I won't rule it out.

Brady and his development were aided by a bruising running attack that was nowhere as deep as the current running game is for the Patriots. They won't go 15-1 as I previously predicted, and they might even have issues getting one of the byes, but they will still make the post-season and they should still win the division.

For the time being Cassel is the quarterback, but expect the Pats to look at a few veterans for insurance. The name's Chris Simms and Tim Rattay have already come up.

Rattay is intriguing because he was considered by the Patriots in lieu of Tom Brady. Brady got the nod, supposedly, because he was taller, but Rattay received serious consideration from the Pats brain-trust.

Simms has put up average statistics on what has been a very average (and sometimes below average team). In 15 starts he's 7-8 with 3087 yards passing, a 59.1 completion percentage, and 12 TD's v. 18 INT's. He could do a lot better with the talent of the Patriots surrounding him if he can pick up the system.

I wouldn't be surprised if rumors start about Vinny Testaverde, Doug Flutie, Daunte Culpepper, and Kelly Holcomb. You might even hear Byron Leftwich's name pop up.

I think that Culpepper, Flutie, and Leftwich are all unlikely candidates. Flutie, with how long he's been removed from the game is unlikely to come out of retirement. Leftwich, I have a hunch, is probably not thought of that highly by Pats coaches and scouts - there are too many holes in his game. Sure, Culpepper has a pre-existing relationship with Randy Moss, but he just hasn't been good recently and rumors are that he has developed a reputation for not exactly being the hardest worker in the classroom in recent seasons, and that will kill you on a Belichick coached team.

That leaves Vinny Testaverde who has played for Belichick before and should know the playbook, and Kelly Holcomb who played on the Browns and in the AFC East against the Belichick Pats. If the Pats aren't comfortable with what they see from Simms and Rattay, don't be surprised to see some of these other names come up.


Chris Stone said...

the Pats are stacked. The one thing good about this injury was... if it was going to happen at anytime... this was the best time. It gives them time to solve the quarterback problem. And... there is a huge difference between Brady and Cassell. Cassell does adequately the safe bet. Brady makes plays. You could even see that in Brady's first season.

I think the coaches like O'Connell. But they need another solution... (big time.) It should be interesting!

David Sullivan said...

I would love to see Brady on the sidelines mentoring Cassell. He would be great at helping read defenses from the stills and suggest play calling. That said, lets hoper the Sox keep things interesting and divert attention until at least Nov.1.

Kevin Smith said...

The thing I keep in mind in regards to Brady's first season is that, with the exception of the game where he opened a can of whup ass on the Colts in a game the team was supposed to lose badly, they had Brady handing the ball off a lot to take pressure off the passing game. I expect to see a lot of the same in the coming weeks - including Brady on the sideline mentoring Cassel in much the same way that Drew did for him once he can get back on the sideline.

I don't expect it to be smooth, I don't expect it to be pretty, but I do think it's going to result in a playoff berth.

the blue state blogger said...

I think it's Matt Cassel, do or die. He hasn't played much, but he knows the system and clearly Belichick has thought enough of him to keep him on the roster all this time.

It's a different team this year than it was last. Sammy Morris already looks great, Maroney is maturing and it's time for Randy Moss to step up from star to team leader.

Suldog said...

I've got to believe their going with Cassel, come hell or high water. Good team overall. They might make this work better than some are expecting. We'll certainly get an indication come Sunday in New York.