Here Comes the Turk

Let me preface this by saying if I were in charge I would cut Chad Jackson--outright release. I think the Pats will keep him, however.

Here's my practice squad guestimation:

Ryan Wendell C
Titus Adams NT
Vince Redd LB
Ray Ventrone S/WR
Stephen Spach TE
CJ Jones WR
Shawn Crable LB
K O'Connell QB

Projected (based on nothing much) Cuts (SD denotes "speed dial"):

Lewis Sanders (SD) CB
Antwain Spann (SD) CB/S
Jason Webster (SD) CB
Jeff Shoate CB
Santonio Thomas DL
Kenny Smith DL
Kyle Eckel (SD) FB
Bo Ruud LB
Victor Hobson LB
Steve Fifita NT
John Welbourn OL
Stephen Sene OL
Mike Flynn (SD) OL
Jimmy Martin (SD) OL
Dan Connolly (SD) OL
Mark Dillard S
Tyson DeVree TE
Jonathan Stupar TE
Sam Aiken WR
Oliver Ross OL
Gary Guyton LB

What I'm about to say isn't going to be popular, but I don't think Matt Cassel has looked as bad as some people think. He's not Brady, that's for sure. But hear me out.

The line has played horribly in front of Cassel, as compared to both Gutierrez and O'Connell. I think that's because he goes in first, when the opponent's first team defense is in and coming hard. Gute and Kevin both have the benefit of playing behind a line that is every bit as cohesive a unit as the first team (not at all), but which is facing 2nd and 3rd team defensive units. Because of the way the Pats have been shuffling o-linemen this summer, the 2nd and third units are just about as up to speed as the first team. So there isn't the comparative drop-off.

Cassel has also been facing first team defensive backfields. So you're looking at our 2nd string QB facing a first team defensive backfield and looking like you'd expect a #2 to look. Matt's not getting #1 reps in practice. He's getting #2 reps. He doesn't have the chemistry--yet--with the WR's that Brady does. And let's face it: no one else ever will.

Gutierrez has a tendency to "lock" onto a receiver. Cassel, in contrast, seems to be more willing to go through his reads. Due to the problems I've outlined above, that has a tendency to get him sacked right now. But as those problems get fixed, there will be more time. Be honest: how do you think Brady would look behind the protection Cassel's been getting? He'd look, well, human at least.

I'm not saying this is the guy forever and ever. But if we dump him, the next most experienced guy in the system is Gutierrez, who is #3 for a reason: he doesn't know the system yet. And if we were to drop him in exchange for a FA veteran, we have another problem to add on top of the time-in-system question: who's it going to be? Sims? There just aren't that many out there.

Obviously there's a lot of room for argument, and he hasn't looked like a world beater. But neither have Maroney, Jordan, Faulk or Morris, and you don't see anyone asking for one of their heads.

IMO it's going to take until the end of September to get the line sorted out. Matt Light apparently practiced today, so that's a big step in the right direction. We aren't going to look like last year's juggernaut right out of the gate. But I think things will come around and, for this year at least, Cassel is a better than adequate backup.

Let's not shake this baby any more than we already have.

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