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Matt Cassel: After Seven Years of Holding a Clipboard, Has He Arrived?

Posted by Nathan Atkins on March 3, 2009

February 2, 2000

Meet Matthew Brennan Cassel, he is 18 years old.

Matt Cassel Quarterback Chatsworth High School

Matt Cassel Quarterback Chatsworth High School, 1998

He is from Northridge, California, is a senior at Chatsworth High School and plays quarterback.  He has aspirations of playing Division 1 football, preferably for his local university; The University of Southern California, also known as USC. Nationally respected high school recruiter Tom Lemming has said that Matt Cassel is the 52nd best player in the nation.  According to Mr. Lemming, the 6’4″ 218lb prospect is a, “Pro-style pocket passer with a very strong, accurate delivery” Matthew is ready for stardom.

Only one man stands in his way: Carson Palmer.

Palmer is a Sophomore quarterback at USC, and something of a local legend. He beat out Mike Van Raaphorst his freshman year to become the starter; such a feat is rare. Palmer has become only the second Freshman in the history of USC football to start his freshman year. He has become quite the celebrity. Cassel will have to dethrone Palmer if he plans to take the reins of the Trojan football program.

Palmer has not had the most impressive numbers: 54.9% completion rating, 2914 yds, 16TDs and 18INTs. The possibility is there for Cassel to surpass Palmer, but the road to become the third Freshman quarterback to start will not be easy.

Jan 2, 2003

Carson Palmer has led the USC Trojans to an Orange Bowl victory. The team was slighted by the BCS for a National Championship bid, but responded beautifully, handily defeating the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Not only did Palmer win the Heisman, he did it in grandiose fashion The quarterback threw for 3942 yards, 33TDs 10INTs and had a completion percentage of 63.2%. Once again Palmer fought off Matt Cassel for the starting spot on the Trojan depth chart. Palmer is expected to be a first round draft pick in the NFL and will leave the quarterback position open to senior Matt Cassel, sophomore Matt Leinart, and transfer Brandon Hance.

Matt Leinart out of Mater Dei High School has become the USC starting quarterback in 2003

Matt Leinart out of Mater Dei High School became the USC starting quarterback in 2003

January 1, 2004

Matt Leinart has led the USC Trojans to a AP National Co-Championship. Though unable to play in the championship game again, USC was chosen as the  #1 team in the AP Poll; making them and LSU Co-Champions of the ’03-’04 season.

Former quarterback Matt Cassel was able to receive some playing time this season, but not at quarterback.

During the season he was able to start a game at tight end. It was his only start in his four years at USC. Throughout his four years at USC, Cassel threw for 192 yards, 0TDS 1INT, and a 57.5% completion percentage.

It appears he has given up on collegiate football, dedicating more time to his childhood love baseball. He was selected by the Oakland A’s in the recent MLB Draft. It’s unsure whether or not he will pursue professional baseball or another career. (Cassel was a communications major at USC).

March 26, 2005

Matt Cassel has decided to work out for NFL scouts at the USC Pro Day. The former quarterback recruit never started in four years at USC but believes he has the potential to play at the next level.

He has received quite a bit of attention; former Offensive Coordinator Norm Chow, now with the Tennessee Titans discussed possibly signing Cassel as a free agent.

At the Pro Day Cassel ran a 4.9 40 yard dash, a 7.21 in the three-cone drill, 34-inch vertical, and 9’7″ broad jump.

An anonymous scout gave a few positives  and negatives on Matt Cassel to USA TODAY.

Positives:

“Well-built athlete with quick feet…Has good velocity behind his tosses, able to throw long while on the move…Throws a tight spiral in the short-to-intermediate range…Stays cool under pressure and steps up in the pocket with confidence…Has a good feel inside the pocket and relies on his quickness to get him out of trouble…Shows the football instincts to improvise when the play breaks down.”

Negatives:

“Needs to refine his technique getting to his throwing point…Makes the receivers work too much to get to the ball on deep routes…Side-arm slinger who carries the ball too low to his side, resulting in some costly fumbles…Forces the ball into traffic, mostly because of his inability to find his secondary targets as he tends to get “tunnel vision” in going to his primary receiver… Has only a functional command of the offense and marginal field vision…Does not read defenses efficiently and despite his quickness, he is no danger for a defense as a scrambler…Long tosses tend to float and sail.”

September 7, 2008

Bernard Pollard is now hated by everyone on the East Coast; except for maybe one exception: Matt Cassel.

Due to Pollard’s questionable late hit on All-Pro quarterback Tom Brady,Matt Cassel has become the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots.

Matt Cassel entered the 2005 NFL Draft after not starting a game at USC

Matt Cassel entered the 2005 NFL Draft after not starting a game at USC

No you did not misread that sentence.

The former high school standout, and perennial back up has ascended to the ranks of starting quarterback; and not just for any team in the NFL, he has become the quarterback for the 18-1 New England Patriots.

Cassel looked composed when he stepped onto the field.  He completed 13-18 for 152 yds and 1TD.

December 28, 2008

Matt Cassel has led the New England Patriots to an 11-5 record. Something never imagined by many football fans in Southern California or Eastern Massachusets.

The 27 year old had been a back up his entire life;  the most experience he had as a starter was in 2000, as a senior in high school at Chatsworth High School.

With uncertainty regarding Tom Brady’s knee it is interesting to see what New England will do with Cassel.

For Cassel, 2008 appeared to be his  “Coming Out Party”. He completed 63% of his passes, threw for 3693 yards, 21TDs and 11INTs. Numbers that definitely look good to teams such as: Kansas City, Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota, San Francisco, St. Louis and Seattle.

Let’s keep an eye on Foxboro and see what happens with new potential phenom Matt Cassel.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Present Day..

Matt Cassel threw for 3,693 yards, 21TDs, 11INTs, and had a QB Rating of 89.4 as the Patriots Quarterback

Matt Cassel threw for 3,693 yards, 21TDs, 11INTs, and had a QB Rating of 89.4 as the New England Patriots Quarterback

Matt Cassel, I’m unsure where to begin. You threw for 3,693 yards in 2008, but are now a Kansas City Chief, three words that terrify me deeply.

Until 2008 you had never thrown more than 37 passes.

But, maybe you just needed more time?

There are two things though that stop me from crowning you the next miraculous Belichick creation.

1. You did not beat Miami week 3

2. You quarterbacked in 2008 with a stacked deck

For a quarterback that has never played a full season in the NFL, it is unfair to expect much.

Yet after beating Kansas City, I assumed a similar defeat was in store for Miami.

I should have known better though, after hearing Joey Porter run his mouth on ESPN.

“it’ll be good to go out and get our first victory. I just know [Cassel] is not a Tom Brady…

“If it’s not Tom Brady, it shouldn’t be that hard. . . . They won last week, but it’s not like they were putting up the crazy 40 points they were when they had Tom.

“So, it’s a different offense, it’s a different team without Tom there. I don’t care what anybody says. It’s not the same team without Brady.”

Joey Porter was right; and New England didn’t put up 40 points, they couldn’t even match the 17 they scored against Kansas City two weeks before.

Porter’s Dolphins on the other hand scored 38 points.

After a team goes 1-15 in 2007 it’s not expected for them to come into Foxboro and defeat a New England Patriots team that went 18-1 in 2007. Not only did the Miami Dolphins beat the Patriots at home, the did it with ease coasting to a 38-13.

Cassel struggled after that game, going 4-3 until a rematch against Miami in Week 10.

Cassel threw for 415 yds the second time around led a 48-28 rout of the future AFC East Champs.

After Week 10, it seems Cassel began to establish himself as a NFL quarterback; he threw for over 400 yards in back-to-back games.

Though I’m hard on Matt Cassel for getting blown out by Miami, I have to remember that it was his third start ever as a NFL quarterback; his third start against a defense that ranked 15th in total defense, and 9th in points allowed. Not only did Miami have a solid defense, the won eleven games and the AFC East. They were not the 1-15 team they were in 2007. They had improved drastically.

But still…

Is Cassel is a product of Belichick’s system?

Matt Cassel has a great offense in New England. Especially at the wide receiver position. Randy Moss is a deep threat that will draw double coverage, allowing the second and third receivers such as Wes Welker to get open. Randy Moss seems to be open even when he is double covered and Wes Welker seems to always be open as well. It’s not hard to throw to a guy 111 times when he’s always open.

Will the loss of Moss and Welker hurt Cassel in Kansas City?

Will the loss of Moss and Welker hurt Cassel in Kansas City?

The running game in New England is not by any means dominant, but it is versatile enough to take enough pressure off Cassel without putting added pressure on Moss and Welker.

The combination of: Sammy Morris, Lamont Jordan, Kevin Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis produced 1872 yds and 19TDs. The foursome was just as productive catching the ball; adding another facet to the Patriot’s feared offensive attack. They provided another  684 yds recieving and 3TDs out of the backfield.

The only problem with New England’s offense is the Offensive Line. Ben Roethlisberger was the talk of 2008 for his ability to get sacked. However few people know that Matt Cassel was sacked more in 2008; he was sacked 47 times.

The best part about Cassel going to Kansas City is the that even with three different quarterbacks the Chiefs’s offensive line only allowed 36 sacks. Cassel must be salivating over that fact alone.

But the good news stops there Matthew, sorry.

Kansas City’s defense ranked 31st in the NFL in 2008. In case you didn’t know Matthew, there are only 32 teams in the league. Yes, thats right your new defense finished second to last in total defense.  It wouldn’t be wise to count on them to keep you in too many close games.

The one you’re leaving behind in New England? Well, they’re ranked 10th.

I wish I could say it gets better from there but it doesn’t. Your recievers need help too, well actually the entire offense needs help.

Dwayne Bowe, Mark Bradley and Tony Gonzalez. Those are your top three recievers.

Hold your excitement, lets take an in-depth look at this trio.

1. Dwayne Bowe- A second year man. Probably has the most upside, has youth and is coming off a 1,000 yard receiving season. His rookie year he was about a  first down short of 1,000 yards as well.

Bowe is definitely the best WR on this staff.  Unfortunately all opposing defensive coordinators know he’s your best target and have already game planned on how to stop you from getting him the ball. Hopefully new Head Coach, Todd Haley already mailed you the playbook.

2. Mark Bradley- A bust from the Bears. Never was the number one receiver, not even at Oklahoma. He played in ten games last year had about 400 yards. He is extremely lazy, or untalented, its hard to tell which one.

He was never more than a third option in Chicago. A third option behind great wide recievers such as: Mushin Muhammed, Eddie Berlin, Bernard Berrian, Rashied Davis, Justin Gage and Bobby Wade.  Mark Bradley never beat out any of these receivers to become the second option in Chicago. Good Luck Matt.

3. Tony Gonzalez- Last but not least! Gonzalez is the golden boy of Kansas City; sadly, he wants out. Really bad.

Matt Cassels future #1 reciever Tony Gonzalez, no longer wants to play for Kansas City

Matt Cassel's future #1 receiver Tony Gonzalez, no longer wants to play for Kansas City

Correction: Really, really bad.

Gonzalez requested a trade from Chiefs President Carl Petersen last year and never got it. He’s coming back in 2009, but he doesn’t want to. He’s your second best option and he wants to leave. Hopefully your arrival will change his mind. If the Chiefs lose Gonzalez they are losing 96 recs, 1058 yards, and 10TDs.   Tyler Thigpen only threw 18 touchdowns in 2008, ten were to Tony Gonzalez.

Unfortunately Bowe, Gonzalez and Bradley’s 212 recs, 2460 yds, and 20TDs can’t compete with Moss, Welker and Faulk’s 238 recs, 2659 yds, and 17TDs.

But isn’t Larry Johnson in Kansas City too?

Well just like Tony Gonzalez, he wants to leave too and management wouldn’t mind seeing him go.

After 2 seasons under 1,000 yards it looks like those 416 carries in 2006  took its toll on LJ.

He’s only played in 20 of the last 32 games, and stays in the news.  Larry Johnson has been on the trade block since 2007; LJ is practically on Death Row, any day that phone call will come and he will never wear the Arrowhead again.

But don’t get too down about Kansas City Matt, there’s a new coach!

(..and he’s unproven just like you)

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