|Defending the Cassel|
by Dean Nicosia
Matt Cassel is the latest mystery in the Belichick world of the Patriots. He's a guy who didn't start in college and wasn't on anyone's radar to be drafted. Matt Cassel is a 7th round pick who has been on the Patriots roster for 4 years, two of those as the third string. Last year he moved up to second string and despite a poor showing in the pre-season, he remained second string this year, which leads to the situation he finds himself in now, the starting QB of the New England Patriots.
Now many in the sports media are just dying to see him fail, not because they have anything against him, but because many in the media just don't like the Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
If Matt Cassel succeeds in leading the Patriots to a winning season, a playoff birth and even a Super Bowl run, it will be a resounding affirmation of the dominance of Bill Belichick and the whole New England Patriots team. It will show that this Patriots system has really got the NFL figured out, at least when it comes to winning in it. They will prove to the rest of the league that not only didn't the tapes (spygate) matter in their success, but either did any individual on the team. They will prove themselves as one unit, one team that can do just about anything, no matter who you plug in at any position. Not just a lucky team and lucky coach who stumbled upon a great QB in Tom Brady.
This Patriots team has defied free agency and the leagues attempt to promote parity. They have defied all of the odds against some of the greats of today, including an incredible run against the Colts and Peyton Manning. They have defied injuries, losses due to free agency, and a complete gutting of the assistant coaching staff. They have suffered the loss of a first round draft pick due to the "Spygate" controversy and defied all of the pressure that the media and rest of the league has brought on them. And at the end of the day they have just won games, and set NFL records.
Now they have a chance to defy all odds if they can win even without the great Tom Brady, who has been the only constant over the last 7 years, besides Belichick. They have a chance to establish themselves as the greatest dynasty in the history of the NFL. True success in times when success doesn't come easy.
That success is what many in the sports media and NFL don't like about the Patriots. I'm not sure what about the great success of the Patriots makes some in the media and many in the rest of the league dislike the Patriots and Bill Belichick. For the other teams in the league and their fans, I'm sure jealousy is a big part of their distain for Bill and the Pats. I would think that Bill's non media-friendly demeanor and his overall secrecy would explain the media's dislike. But whatever the reason, there are many who are hoping that without Tom Brady, the wheels will come off the wagon, proving that all of this success is just a matter of a great QB with his God given talent, and not a great team with a great coach under a great system.
They really can't stand giving credit to Bill Belichick and the Patriots system. I caught the pre-game shows today, and some of the guys were laughing at the idea that you could take Tom Brady out an just plug in another guy and keep winning. They think that this is just another line out of Foxboro, a bogus piece of Belichick motivation for his team. They think that the Patriots should just roll over, and Belichick should just stop being arrogant.
They want to believe that the success that the Patriots have seen is all due to Tom Brady, and finding him was just pure luck. That Belichick and the Patriots are nothing without Tom.
Well there are a bunch of guys in the Patriots locker room that would like to have the final word on that, and one of them is Matt Cassel.
No matter how good he does, the media and the rest of the league will be looking for him to trip up and waiting to jump on him. They won't give him any credit until he's won it all and they can't wait to see him fail.
So it's up to us to support our team and Defend the Cassel, which is just what the Patriots appear to be doing. The team is supporting him and the organization is protecting him as best they can. And for his part, Matt Cassel seems to be handling every thing very well, and running the offense just fine in Brady's absence. Or at least he did in his first start since high school. The Patriots beat a Favre-lead Jets team in their house, even without Tom Brady.
So let's see how the year goes, cut the team some slack on the bad days, and no matter what, Defend the Cassel!
Go Matt Cassel, and Go Patriots!