Opponent Opinions: QB Matt Cassel

Quarterback Matt Cassel is coming off a monster performance in the Patriots' overtime loss against the Jets, but he also had a miserable day in September when the Dolphins won at Foxborough. Cassel talked about his progress since taking over for Tom Brady and Sunday's game against the Dolphins in a conference call.

Q: I don't know if you saw the quote yesterday from Mitch Mustain, the backup quarterback at USC, but he said you inspire him. Do you take any recognition of what you have been able to do for backup quarterbacks everywhere?

Matt Cassel: MC: I think for any backup anywhere that my story is one that gives inspiration and gives promise to some of those guys that are fighting for a position. Just to continue to work hard, continue to put your best foot forward each and every day and quite possibly you're dreams will come true.

Q: Were there times throughout your first three years here where you thought you were never going to get a shot because Tom [Brady] is so durable?

MC: Well, you think that. Every week in and week out Tom would take a few shots here and there but he would always get up and he is a very durable guy. You never know when your opportunity was going to come and you continue to press forward. But, there were times that I didn't know whether or not I was ever going to get on the field but I keep preparing myself like I was and thankfully for me I was able to get on the field and get an opportunity.

Q: How different of a quarterback are you since the last time you played the Dolphins?

MC: I feel like I have grown up a little bit. What is this? My ninth or tenth start now, so I have seen a little bit more and know my role a little bit better. I feel like I am a little bit more confident in what I am doing.

Q: As you looked at the first tape with the Dolphins, did you see - "how did I not know that?"

MC: There were a little bit of missed plays here and there. I don't think we played well as an offensive unit that day and I am sure the team felt that we didn't put on our best performance that day. We are working hard this week to get that corrected and go down there and put out a better performance on Sunday.

Q: What is your mind-set when you see double coverage on Randy [Moss]? Do you automatically look away and do something else? What is your thought process when you see the coverage like that?

MC: It really depends on my read and what we have talked about in meetings. Sometimes there are plays that my read will take me somewhere else based on him getting doubled and there's other reads that I will stick with him a little bit longer because he still has an opportunity to get open on that particular pattern. So, it is all based on one play or another. But, to say that I eliminate him right away based on the fact that he is being double covered is not necessarily true all the time.

Q: Do you feel like this game against the Miami Dolphins is a "must win"?

MC: Every week is a must win for us. From week one to right now, we always have a sense of urgency about ourselves. Would it have been nice to get that win against the [New York] Jets? Of course, but we know that each game going out is a big game especially this time of year.

Q: Last year against the Miami Dolphins you threw an interception to Jason Taylor. Would you say that was the low point of your career so far?

MC: You never want to go into a game with that situation when you are winning by a bunch and throw an interception but that happens as a football player. You have to recognize it and I told you guys last year, ‘It won't be the first time I throw an interception and it won't be the last.' As a player, your confidence is shook a little bit but you have to tell yourself, ‘Look, there is the next day.' Luckily for me I was able to come back out the next week against Washington [Redskins] and a have a good week, score a touchdown and put together a scoring drive. That's football and that is sports. You are going to go through adversities on and off the field. You just have to continue to push through.

Q: Have they called any quarterback draws for you this year or have they all been scrambles from what you see from the defense?

MC: They [coaching staff] haven't called any quarterback draws. At least not designed quarterback draws. They have all pretty much been scrambles on something where I feel I can make a play with my legs.

Q: Are there certain plays where you go to the line and realize you might have a better opportunity on that play than others?

MC: Well, we saw a lot of that against the [New York] Jets. We knew that they were going to try and double some guys, play a lot of man coverage and probably not account for me in terms of me running the ball. So we had a few holes open up there and I was able to take off and get some good yardage.

Q: Do you feel teams are going to play more zone coverage because you have shown the ability to run well?

MC: We'll see. You never know. I think teams are known for doing what they do. Maybe this week we will see some zone [coverage], maybe this week we will see some man [coverage]. It is all based on what their game plan is going in.

Q: When you run with the football do you always look for the first-down marker?

MC: A lot of times I am looking for the first-down marker. You get what you can. A lot of people say ‘get what you can and get down.' I sometimes down get down and I have the bruises to show it.

Q: Do you talk to your former USC teammate Carson Palmer much during the season?

MC: I talk to him.

Q: Do you ever think of the irony of that? You use to backup Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart at USC and they aren't playing and you are a starting quarterback?

MC: I don't think too much about it. Those guys have earned their way. They were great college players and they are great professional players. I have a lot of respect for them. I am just happy that I have an opportunity to play now and we are able to talk about those kinds of things.

Q: Can you appreciate the fact that there are three NFL quarterbacks from that USC team?

MC: It is pretty impressive. There are two other guys, two other backups that could easily be in this position. They are all good quarterbacks. We had a really good group while I was there. We worked hard and made each other better through competition. It is fun to still have that connection and relationship with those guys.

Q: Do you find it interesting that you use to be Palmer and Leinhart's backup at USC and got advice from them but now you are starting and they aren't? Do you give advice to them now?

MC: It is an interesting relationship. It is more so that I was the understudy of Carson [Palmer]. When Matt [Leinhart] came in it was more of a collaboration because I was the older guy and maybe knew more of the offense when he first got there. Now, looking from the starting role, Carson has been a starter and is an established guy, he is just injured right now. I have had discussions with Matt and I know he is eager to get out on the field. I am sure he will and he is going to have a great career in the NFL. He is a great player and I just tell him that he has to keep his head up and I am sure he is.

Q: Does your mindset change when you face a team for the second time?

MC: Well, you are able to go back and really review what occurred in the first game and make the corrections that you need to make. Also, you are little bit more familiar with their personnel and how they played you the first game and we will see if that plays out in this next game. You just study the film and now you have 10 or 11 games to go off versus when we played them in Week 3.


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