Saturday, February 28, 2009

So long, and thanks for all the fish...

I didn't initially intend to use a Douglas Adams reference as a double entendre in regards to the Pats record against the Dolphins during Mike Vrabel's tenure in a Pats uni, it just happened that way.

I will miss Vrabel, but I'm not going to bitch about the team moving him. At this point I trust that the team knows what it's doing from a personnel standpoint. I will say that, even though I agree with the coffin corner that this deal makes sense for the Patriots, I still think this is an absolute steal for the Chiefs. For the 34th pick in the draft the Chiefs got a quarterback that's got nothing but upside who just led the Patriots to a 11-5 record. I would like to have seen the Pats get a fourth rounder as well - even if it were in next year's draft.

Through the course of the season, Cassel actually put up better numbers than Brady did in Brady's first season as a starter back in 2001. There are those that will be quick to point out that Cassel did it throwing to Randy Moss and Wes Welker.

I'd like to point out that Brady did it behind a healthy offensive line and with healthy starters at the running back position - so that advantage is really a wash. And Brady did it with a healthier and better defense in place than Cassel had.

I'm not saying that Cassel is better than Brady, or will ever be better than Brady. All I'm saying is that at the same points in their careers, the two are very comparable - and what GM...what team's fans wouldn't want to take that?

They are getting set at signal-caller on the offensive side of the ball, which lets Scott Pioli build around a cornerstone. Now they can concentrate on building the offensive line through free-agency and the draft.

On the other side of the ball they get Mike Vrabel whom Bill Belichick has described as one of the smartest players he has ever coached.

I've noticed a lot of the stories about this point out that Vrabel is coming off an off year. None of those stories mention that the entire Patriots defensive front struggled. The vaunted defensive linemen seldom tied up the personnel that allowed Vrabel to run free in earlier seasons.

Even if Vrabel is at the tail end of his career, my bet is that he's still got two good years left, and this gives the Chiefs a much needed leader on what was a pitiful, leaderless defense.

More than anything else, these two players were brought in to change the culture and climate of the locker room. They were brought in to help teach the young players on this team how to win.

Will they this year? It's unlikely, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Chiefs make some noise in 2010.

For Chiefs fans that think this is a bad deal, or that Cassel is the second coming of Scott Mitchell, let's get something cleared up - unlike many of the back-ups that have come before that turned out to be busts, Cassel has a full season under his belt as a starter. Not three or four starts that got some personnel guys all hot and bothered, but a full season, and has been with your personnel guy since he came out of college four years ago. This isn't some guy that Pioli fell in love with over four games of tape - this is a guy that Pioli has seen on the practice field day in and day out for almost half a decade, and then watched pilot the Patriots to 11 wins (could have been 13 if the defensive line could get into the backfield last season). You're getting a player, and the only thing that could be a problem is the team's offensive line.

One last thought - I can't help but find a certain irony that Cassel will be starting for the team next season to which he owes a debt in regards to getting his chance to start.

Matt, Mike, good luck, so long, and thanks for all the fish. It was a fun run.

1 comment:

Chris Stone said...

I thought the trade made sense for the Pats. They got Cassel off the books and Vrabel is one of the higher paid players. wish they had gotten more out of the deal!

what i don't like is... Vrabel has 1-2 years left. he's still a good player. it would have been nice if he'd finished up with the Pats.