Monday, November 24, 2008

Patriots' System Works Again

If you haven't noticed, the Patriots once again have an obscure backup quarterback playing like an MVP and leading them towards the playoffs. Interesting observations on the phenomenon from Sports Illustrated's Peter King in his column today.

Now this stat is eerie: After Tom Brady's first 11 starts in the NFL, his completion percentage was 66.3. After Matt Cassel's 11 NFL games this season, his completion percentage is ... well, 66.3.

"Wow,'' Cassel said from Miami after the Pats' 48-28 win. "That's pretty good.''

It's crazy and all-too-soon and slightly irreverent. But it is also unavoidable. Life is imitating art. The career path of Cassel is following Brady's. Brady's record after 11 games: 8-3. Cassel's: 7-4 -- and if the Pats had won the overtime coin flip a week ago Thursday, I bet those records would be the same. Brady's rating: 91.6. Cassel's: 90.5. Cassel leads Brady by 377 passing yards, thanks to Cassel's back-to-back 400-yard passing games. (Been on Mars? That's no misprint.) As for touchdowns, Brady leads Cassel by three.

It's hard to fathom what we're seeing. Brady, the 199th pick in the 2000 draft, has won three Super Bowls and will be a Hall of Famer on the first ballot. Cassel, the 230th pick in 2005, hasn't won anything big yet, but he has thrown for more yards than Brett Favre this season (2,615 to 2,461) and for a higher passer rating than Peyton Manning (90.5 to 87.2) and for more yards per pass attempt than Eli Manning. The Patriots' system works, and it works wonders.