When the season commenced, we were expecting big things from the Pats. Would they make a return trip to the Super Bowl? Would the Tom Brady-Randy Moss Express become even more prolific? Could they have another undefeated regular season? All valid questions. Until Tom Brady injured his knee week one against the Chiefs. Then, panic struck. They can’t make the playoffs. Who’s Matt Cassel? Why is this the first time he’s started since high school? Season is over.
Fast Forward 10 weeks, and we have ourselves a new question: Who is more responsible for the Pats dynasty? Is it sure-fire Hall-of-Famer Brady? Or is it Coach Belichick? For a long time, I had thought it was a good combination of the two. Now? Not so sure.
Matt Cassel’s Patriots are 6-3. Cassel is playing pretty well. Sure, he’s nowhere near last year’s record breaking pace that Tom Brady enjoyed. But he has an 83.4 passer rating, 7 TDs and hasn’t been the disaster we all thought he would be. He’s completing 67 percent of his passes, throwing for 1,556 yards. Tom Brady’s first year starting, 2001, he threw for 3,764 yards, completed 63 percent of his passes and threw 18 TDs. That was in 15 games replacing Drew Bledsoe. Of course we all know how that season ended. But there are many similarities, with almost eerily similar stats.
Brady has to deserve some credit for his success. But, if he went to say, Buffalo, would he be as successful? If Matt Cassel started for the Rams would he be as successful? We don’t know. But what we do know is that Belichick has worked his magic with two unknown commodities. And if the Pats make a big run in the playoffs, whose praise will we be singing then?