From The Other Side, Part 1

To get the lowdown on the Dolphins' next opponent, the New England Patriots, we checked in with Patriots Insider's Jon Scott. In Part 1, we find out about the Patriots' offense.

Q. How much different is the New England offense now that Matt Cassel is at quarterback instead of Tom Brady?

Jon Scott: When trying to size up the difference between Brady and Cassel, the best description I can give you is that of a bike. Brady is a 20-speed while Cassel is a 10-speed without the top gears working well. Tom Brady can make all the throws and has done so for years. His ability to check down to the second or third option regularly has been a vital part of what makes him so dangerous. Cassel can do some of those things, running the same plays, throwing the same passes. What Cassel has trouble doing is to check out of the wrong play, or go to the third option. That's been a drive killer as Cassel either takes the sack or runs with the ball whereas Brady probably would have been able to get the ball to his receiver.

Q: Sammy Morris has scored a touchdown in each of the first two games; how big of a role is he playing?

JS: Morris is looking good in his first couple of games, though the Jets keyed on him last week to prevent him from getting any yardage on the ground. Morris runs hard, hits the hole fairly quickly and typically will fall forward to avoid the negative play, unlike Laurence Maroney who seems to be losing speed. Last year Morris outran Maroney early in the season, and it appeared that Morris would take over the primarily running back duties. Then Morris was hurt, changing everything. I think we're going to see more of a mix this year, especially with LaMont Jordan on the roster. Jordan will definitely eat into both Morris and Maroney's playing time.

Q: Will Randy Moss still be Randy Moss with Brady gone?

JS: Had Cassel led Moss a bit more on that deep pass against the Jets, Moss could have had another solid game, possibly another touchdown. As Cassel struggles to find Moss open, we're looking at the possibility of Moss' frustrations from his previous stops manifesting on this team. There are enough leaders around the locker room to prevent things from getting totally out of hand, and winning is the cure-all. Moss can still be that dynamic playmaker, but teams are going to do more to prevent it from happening. Look for more plays from the tight ends (especially David Thomas), the other receivers (Wes Welker and Jabar Gaffney) and the running backs.

Q: Looks like Wes Welker has picked up where he left off last year; how has he looked early on?

JS: Welker is the engine that keeps on pulling the Patriots offense along. He's quick, he's hard to cover and he's reliable. As teams work hard to take Moss out of the equation, the Patriots will look to Welker to exploit coverage underneath. Welker's ability to make something out of nothing is a vital part of the Patriots offense, especially the bubble screen and the quick slant. You have to like a guy who's 5 feet 9 and can take a hit only to get up and keep on rolling the next week. His toughness and quiet determined spirit keep the Patriots moving forward when they could easily stagnate.

Q: Back to Cassel, what is your assessment of him as a quarterback?

JS: I was asked on air this week about Cassel, and the best compliment I can give him is that the Patriots are still capable of turning in a Tom Brady kind of day with Cassel running the show. He's big enough to see over the line. He's been around long enough to know most of the offense. And he's had to face a tough Patriots defense each week in practice, which will only make him better. When you think of how well Aaron Rogers is doing in Green Bay and you look at Cassel, you won't see much of a drop off. Not bad for a seventh-round pick compared to a former first-rounder.

Jon Scott has covered the NFL since 1995, and is a regular contributor to Patriots Insider and Comcast SportsNet New England. A member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA), Jon has been a guest analyst on the NFL Network, Sporting News Radio, ESPN Radio and other outlets around the web.


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