Apparently, Keyshawn Johnson has fully recovered from the Warren Sapp verbal broadside and is back to talking football, the gig that doesn't require him to know the difference between an étagère and an English basement.
The former USC grad, one-time Jets first-round pick, and now-analyst for ESPN's NFL Countdown thinks the Patriots' Matt Cassel could've very easily been something more than a draft-day afterthought if not for the laws of probability. Via the Palm Beach Post's Edgar Thompson:
"(Cassel) was the coin flip from being the starter at USC," said Johnson ... "It's like one day Pete Carroll wakes up and says Matt Leinart. Pete Carroll wakes up another morning and says Cassel. ... If he says Cassel, does SC win two national championships, does he win the Heisman? Matt Leinart caught fire and there was no looking to replace him at point."Thompson then writes: "Now, Cassel is one of the NFL's hottest quarterbacks, coming off a 400-yard game, and the league's most improbable stories as he continues to lead the Tom Brady-less Patriots. Meanwhile Leinart is wasting away on the Arizona bench while Kurt Warner makes a run at his third MVP award."
I see where he's going with there, but Cassel is not "one of the NFL's hottest quarterbacks." Yes, he had a 400-yard game in a losing effort against the Jets, but he seldom throws ball down the field and he's got the luxury of playing in the most potent offense in the universe, not to mention a JV schedule.
Cassel currently ranks 18th in the league in yards per attempt (7.0), 26th in completions of more than 20 yards (18), and no quarterback has been sacked more often (32). Hardly hot.
Has Cassel been better than anybody expected? Yeah, sure. But all the talk about him evolving into a legitimate NFL quarterback after a half season of work is a tad short-sighted. And while I'm sure some team desperate for a little Pats fairy dust will pay him six or seven or eight million a year next offseason, he'll still be the same Matt Cassel who went nine years between starts.
For all of Johnson's praise, he seems to understand as much.
"The problem is if you go out there and pay (Cassel) a bunch of money to be your quarterback and you don't know as much about him as (Bill) Belichick and the Patriots," Keyshawn Johnson said. "I wouldn't be too quick to throw big money at him because he's played in a system for four or five years and has some pretty good talent around him."Unless Tom Brady has his leg amputated, I'm guessing he's not worried about his job security. I don't think Drew Bledsoe had such confidence back in 2001.