steelerfan513 wrote:There's one stat regarding Cassel that I'm intrigued by. In 2007, Tom Brady got sacked 21 times. In 2008, Matt Cassel got sacked 47 times. Did the Pats have erosion of play on their o-line that I don't know about, or was Cassel doing something wrong?
I think it is more a combination of Cassel's inexperience and his poor pocket presence that led to all those sacks. I've researched this before in another thread, but Tom Brady when he was a first time starter coming in got sacked 41 times. Brady has developed into one of the best in the pocket QBs in the league at this point, but the question is Can Matt Cassel get there? It's a little hazy thinking back to when Tom Brady first came in, but I'm under the impression that a lot of his sacks came from standing in the pocket a little too long or his o-line letting people through.
I don't think either of those things factored into most of Matt Cassel's sacks though. Cassel was just plain bad in the pocket last year. Maybe not at the David Carr deer in the headlights level, but still pretty bad. Often times this guy would force check down throws to Wes Welker because he didn't want to risk the rush getting to him (Harrington). I think a lot of people who value Matt Cassel's talent and potential look to his completion percentage and field awareness to quickly get the ball out, but personally I think that was the result of a inexperienced QB reaching for straws. People look at the completion percentage and the progression over the course of the season and start to think "what if this guy gets another couple years", but personally I think those people are missing the overthrows to Randy Moss wide open down the field, and the 15 yards Cassel gave up on to complete all those 8 yarders to Wes Welker.
A lot of Matt Cassel's sack were the result of his poor footwork in the pocket. Guy would run right up into his lineman or right into a defender a lot of times. A QB can get put into those types of situations due to a bad o-line, but the good QBs actually dodge those players, roll outside, or step up to complete their throws (IE Cutler, Big Ben). The great QBs simply pull a matador on them and barely even have to move to buy the extra second or two (Brady, Brees). Cassel had a tendency to do the worst possible thing when the rush got within a couple yards of him: he would drop his head and tuck the ball. You'd like to say that a lot of this goes back to Matt Cassel's inexperience, but at the same time the guy has been in the same system learning for years now. Those types of habits can be extremely hard to break and we see a lot of NFL QBs wash out of the league that can't pickup how to handle a rush and then stick in the pocket to read their progressions and take a hit making the right throw.
New England had a very good all around team last year. Randy Moss was constantly doubled with a deep second and on the rare times Randy Moss wasn't doubled they had an over/under on Wes Welker in the middle of the field. Matt Cassel on the majority of those times couldn't hit the wide open Randy Moss down the field. That should have been his money play all season long, but he really only used Randy Moss effectively in one single game and a lot of that was Randy Moss doing his thing after the catch. The New England running game was so poor last season that defensive teams never had to put 8 in the box, but simply dared Cassel to beat them. Most weeks he just couldn't do it. Matt Cassel was the reason New England won 11 games instead of the 13 or 14 that they should have. A good QB helps you win extra games. An average QB won't cost you games. A below average QB is going to keep you out of the playoffs.