Friday, November 14, 2008

The Last Cassel

On the eve of the baseball free agent market opening, an NFL game that virtually no one saw has stolen the headlines.  In essence, Brett Favre has done (for now), what he was brought in to do.  Favre has been far from perfect this season, at times even calling into question whether or not the Jets are better off with him at the helm than they would have been with Chad Pennington.  Right now the point is mute, as Favre has lead the Jets over the Patriots for just the second time in the Mangini-Belichick era. From Bangor to Darien, New Englanders will point out that the Patriots were playing without Adalius Thomas or Ty Warren (obviously the fact that New England was without #12 is irrelevant in the context of this season), completely deflating their pass rush, and still came within a coin flip but for now it is irrelevant as the 7-3 Jets are atop the AFC East heading into Week 11.

While Favre took a large step towards vindicating himself after early flops against the Pats and Raiders, the biggest stories were the two non-American Heroes playing skill positions in this game (because lets be honest, the Patriots running back is not a skill position).  First of all, Thomas Jones had another solid game (104 yards and a score), and has become nothing short of a must start for those of you in fantasyland. 

Much more interestingly, Matt Cassel solidified his spot as (gasp) one of the top free agents in the 2009 offseason.  Granted, Cassel has (at least) 6 more games in which this could drastically change, but I wouldn’t expect it to.  Barring an emergency amputation of Brady’s left leg, Cassel will surely test the waters of unrestricted free agency this coming spring.  Many have chalked this up to overreaction to a number of good games.  That’s not the case though.  While 6-3 with good pieces around him could be chalked up to coincidence, 400 yards cannot.  At the very least, Cassel proved that he has an upside much higher than many other quarterbacks in the league. 

One thing stands out in the argument for signing Cassel.  In my column about Aaron Rodgers, I made the argument that NFL teams are the best judge of what they have in unproven players, and that no where is this more apparent than with backup quarterbacks.  So far it has been true for Mike McCarthy (Rodgers is in the top 10 in touchdowns, QB rating and completions), and I would be confident that it is true about Bill Belichick, like him or not (even if it is “not” for everyone west of, say, Worcester, MA).  Granted, only an injury to Tom Brady and a lack of a viable alternative gave Cassel the starting job.  The fact that Cassel is playing is not actually an endorsement of his ability.  On the other hand, 50 passing attempts in the most important game of the season (to this point) most certainly is.  What we know is this Cassel will get paid this offseason, probably with a long term contract, and it will probably get a lot of scrutiny, but I for one think it will be deserved. 


Sorry for the hiatus.  Starting college and being thrown into the hockey season hasn't left me with much time to update this site.  I did write most of an NHL preview, but never found time to finish it, so I am going to hold off posting it until mid season, when hopefully I will find time to either obnoxiously brag about my nostrodomus-esque prediction ability or complain about how my sleepers are underperforming and making me look like an idiot.  
In the mean time, in order to keep this blog moving, I'm going to be posting shorter, more topical posts a few times a week (or hopefully more).  While it will be a bit of a departure from the less topical colums that usually grace this space, I feel like it is a better use of the half hours that I am able to find where I feel like writing than trying to string columns together over a few days, which usually results in me quitting on them for one reason or another.