Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Gone, Brady Gone

I've been asked what I feel about the knee injury that has ended Tom Brady's season and sent Patriots fans into a tailspin. It probably does not take a psychiatrist to guess the answer: Disconsolate, frustrated, pissed, saddened, concerned. Brady is the face of the franchise. He is, in many important ways the face of the league. He is the best player on the best team, and that is going to be nearly impossible to replace. (And I'm insulted after his injury, as Brady also was the starting quarterback on my fantasy team, "Generic Team Name.")

That said, the Patriots' season is not done. And I don't think this is merely rationalization. Matt Cassel is no Tom Brady, to be sure, but then Tom Brady just finished the greatest year in the history of the sport. No one is Tom Brady. But is Cassell can take on the role of "game manager," the buzzword that has emerged in recent years to describe mid-level quarterbacks who are not talented enough to win games on their own, there is no reason why new England will not compete for the AFC East title. And if they win the AFC East, well, they are in the NFL's big tournament, and if they make it that far, anything is possible. It is not as if the rest of the Patriots got any worse with Brady's injury. Kansas City may be a somewhat lifeless bunch, but the Pats' D did a fine job hogtying them all day Sunday. Cassel has some weapons in Randy Moss and Wes Welker and Laurence Maroney and a whole lot of guys from last year's team. And he still has the best coaching staff in the business prowling the sidelines. We will now learn just what kind of insurance policy the untested Cassel is.

The season is not over. The Jets will not be feeling pity or mercy this Sunday, nor will the rest of the league. And the Pats are not asking for mercy or pity or even sympathy. Let's let this all shake out. The Patriots have earned more than a little bit of trust over the course of this decade. Once before in the Belichick years the Pats lost a star quarterback to injury and replaced him with an unheralded and untested rookie who was drafted late. That worked out pretty well. Let us see how this plays out before Pats fans stick our heads in the oven or the rest of the league discounts New England's NFL entry. For this weekend, at least, I'm confident that Brett Favre has another 3-interception game in him. Then let's just take it game-by-game.


brian said...

So you'll be taking the Pats +2.5, then?

That is to say, you would be taking them if gambling were legal, which it isn't?

dcat said...

Brian --
I'd be tempted. What this line basically tells me is that with the Jets as the home team, and with Brady out, Vegas still thinks that the Pats are as good or better were the game to be played on a neutral field. If the Pats' line can protect Cassel the way they did Brady in the regular season last year it will alleviate the worry about the inexperienced career backup to the stars rushing passes and making hurried (and thus likely unsound) decisions.
If gambling were legal, of course. Since it's not, let's just say that I think the Pats can win outright . . .


Slicer said...

From someone who really doesn't have a dog in the fight, I gotta say that although the '08 Jets are an improved team and should compete most Sundays this fall, they still kind of suck. Even without Brady, the Pats have some pretty well-rounded personnel from top to bottom with just the right number of stars.

Total bummer about Brady. Anyone who honestly finds some sort of joy or satisfaction in his injury is undoubtedly some candy-ass, JV starter at best, who is clueless about being the best at any type of sport by beating the best when they are at their very best.

g_rob said...


dcat said...

g-rob --
Definitely maybe.

Slicer --
Yeah, I cannot handle those showing glee about this. I was not thrilled to see manning need surgery.

We will learn an enormous amount this weekend. If the Pats beat the Jets, I think we'll see the chattering classes on the various NFL shows go into a "this Patriots team is still talented and is the team to beat." If the Jets win, we'll get the whole "winning without Brady is going to be impossible" line.

Obviously Cassel will be scrutinized intensely this week. I think he'll be ok if they gameplan so that he does not have to do much to win it on his own.


*special* agent chet desmond said...

As much as I hate Tom Brady, you're right... anybody who gets any kind of joy out this is a sad individual.

I am very much looking forward to the Jets/Pats game, but a little less now.

dcat said...

As I said, this will be the measuring tape game. If the Pats win this, they are in decent shape in the division. If not, Cassel's learning curve better not be too steep for him to navigate it.


Anonymous said...

Week 10.


dcat said...

As I said: We'll see. At least the chatter about the Jets supplanting the Pats should be over for a while.