Sunday, November 9, 2008

Asked and answered: Matt Cassel, Patriots quarterback

No one is confusing him with the man he replaced under center, but there's no question that Matt Cassel continues to make progress in relief of Tom Brady for the Patriots. It'll be interesting to see how the Patriots deploy him today -- running backs Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan remain unavailable, but the Bills' pass defense (12th in the NFL) is significantly better than its run defense (26th in the NFL).

Here's a sampling from Cassel's meeting with the media earlier this week:

As a young quarterback yourself, have you appreciated from afar what Buffalo Bills quarterback Trent Edwards has done?
"He's done a great job. He has won a lot of games out there and continues to progress. Even from last year, I think his first playing time was against us, and I thought he did a great job last year. He continues to get better and I have always been impressed with the way Trent has played."

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels talked earlier this week about how you did a good job against the Colts of avoiding pressure and getting rid of the ball. Can you talk about your development in that part of the game?
"That was just part of the game plan. We knew that they had a good rush last week. Part of the game plan was to go out, get the ball out quick, go through the reads and if you didn’t have anything downfield then get the ball to the backs. We were able to do a good job last week. Whatever the game plan calls for that is what we try to accomplish. We were able to execute that well last week.

Any comfort in not having to face Bills defensive end Aaron Schobel this week?
"He's a great player. We have a lot of respect for him around here. He played well against us throughout the years. Unfortunately for him, he has an injury right now. Everybody wishes, for their sake that he is healthy. Nobody likes to see anybody not play due to injury. We have a lot of respect for him.

How good is this Buffalo team?
"They're a very good team. They play well on defense and they run around and give you a lot of different looks. Offensively, they are playing well. They have a lot of great skill players. They have some good running backs. We have our work cut out for us. We have to have a good week of practice and be ready to go come Sunday."

Are you happy with how the offense has progressed since you have become the starting quarterback?
"I'm happy to see that we are having some production on offense. I think that we have a lot of work to do. I do think that we are growing as an offense, and I think the guys are stepping up and making some pretty big plays. We have to continue to do that if we are going to be successful in these next eight games.

How much does it help to have your entire offensive line back (with the return of Nick Kaczur and Stephen Neal)?
"They are doing a great job. They continue to push themselves each and every week. They did a great job last week, and hopefully we can maintain that throughout the rest of the year."

What has been the most surprising thing to you so far this season?
"Surprising? It's hard to say. Every week, there's something new and there is a new challenge that comes about. For me, obviously, from Week One to Week Eight, it is a much different challenge. In Week Two and Three, you are trying to gather yourself, kind of understand what your role and grow into that leadership role. Now, we've defined that aspect, so we're moving forward as an offense and trying to get better each and every week. Every week, there are new challenges. Now that I know what my role is and how to approach it week in and week out, I feel that we can work on other things."

Last week, you guys said the game against the Indianapolis Colts felt like a divisional game because you have faced them so many times. How does it feel now that you are in a real divisional game this week?
"It's a huge game for us. We are fighting for first place. I am sure there will be a great atmosphere there Sunday. We're all looking forward to it and we'll be up for the challenge."

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