I said Matt Cassel would be “fine” this season, and so far, he’s been just that. Not great. Not awful. Just fine. His stats so far support the assertion that’s he’s a perfectly average backup quarterback. Three touchdowns to four interceptions and a rating around 80. He’s playing exactly like a guy told specifically not to screw anything up. The trick is that each mounting loss will upset the merciless Boston sports media more and more, despite Cassel playing within his particular gameplan. Despite the fact that this loss could be hung on the cornerbacks as much as the quarterback, many fans (and the sports reporters that pander to them) don’t care so much about Deltha O’Neil and Ellis Hobbs as they do about the guy that replaced Tom Brady.
But I don’t think townsfolk with pitchforks are showing up at Gillette any time soon. Boston fans are an impatient bunch sometimes, but they’re not stupid. No one will demand Cassel be shackled and kept on the sidelines, since anyone who knows anything about Patriots football knows that no one else on roster can throw the ball. Backups-to-the-backup Matt Gutierrez and Kevin O’Connell aren’t the answer this season, and the drop-off from Brady to Cassel or anyone else will not be narrowed by any means. The fans know this, the media accepts this (though I’m sure they’ll write stories to the contrary when the Bills open up a three game lead in the division), and so this season has essentially become a “we’ll take anything” kind of season.
The Patriots are playing with house money now. With Brady down, everyone I know that owns a jersey with his name on it threw up their hands and lamented the soon-to-be 6-10 season. Anything above that is a pleasant surprise. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if I see a town of rah-rahs if 9-7 and a wild card berth becomes the reality in a few months. Thankfully for everyone, the Sox are still alive in the playoffs. That’ll make any grim twists of fate go down a bit easier.