Thursday, November 19, 2009

Storming the Cassel

Isn't it ironic how things come full circle in the NFL?

Last season, Tom Brady sustained an injury against the Kansas City Chiefs that knocked him out for the year. His replacement, Matt Cassel, led the Pats to an 11-5 record, just missing the playoffs. In order to protect their quarterback position, Cassel was franchised by the Pats after last season.

Scott Pioli, former Patriots VP of personnel, was given the GM job in Kansas City. One of his first moves was to trade a second round pick for Matt Cassel. Was it worth it? Let's find out.

Cassel had the advantage last year of throwing to Randy Moss and Wes Welker. He has no such luxury this season. Let's look at his numbers:

2008: New England (16 games)
327/516 (63.4%), 3693 yards, 21 TD, 11 INT, 89.4 Passer Rating, 46 sacks, 7 fumbles

2009: Kansas City (8 games)
144/259 (55.6%), 1472 yards, 10 TD, 6 INT, 75.3 Passer Rating, 29 sacks, 8 fumbles

As we can see, in some departments (TD, INT, completions, and attempts), Cassel is on pace to come close to his 2008 numbers. However, his completion percentage, yardage, and Passer Rating are all down significantly. One reason for this is, as previously mentioned, the lack of Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Moss and Welker were able to turn short throws into big gains and make plays down the field. Cassel doesn't have a tandem like this in KC, and Dwayne Bowe faces double coverage every week.

Another difference is offensive line play. Kansas City's offensive line might as well be playing for Colorado State. They're just that bad. They have given up 32 sacks through 9 games this season, the second most in the league.

Does anyone remember what the Steelers did to Cassel last time he faced them with an offensive line made up of Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Dan Koppen, Steve Neal, and Nick Kaczur?

Now comes the real question, what do you think Dick LeBeau's defense will do to Ryan O'Callaghan, Andy Alleman, Rudy Niswanger, Brian Waters, and Wade Smith?

James Harrison had 10 tackles, 2 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles against New England last year. He's got to be licking his chops over this one. The Steelers game was, by far, Cassel's worst game of 2008.

His stat line: 19/39 (48.7%), 169 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT, 5 sacks, 2 fumbles.

If Matt Cassel couldn't solve the Steelers defense with Randy Moss and Wes Welker as his weapons, do you really think he can do it without Larry Johnson or Dwayne Bowe (cut and suspended respectively)?

The consensus opinion around here is, it's going to be a great day for the defense.

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