Matt Cassel admits he's still learning something new each week in his role as the New England Patriots' starting quarterback. Perhaps his biggest -- and most important -- lesson has been getting Randy Moss the ball.
The two finally hooked up on a big play last weekend in the Patriots' 30-21 victory over the 49ers when Cassel hit Moss over the top for a 66-yard touchdown pass. The vertical passing game has been lacking since Tom Brady went down, but Cassel expects things to get better on a weekly basis.
"I think you continue to learn something each and every week, especially as a young quarterback when you're thrown into the fire like I was early on in the season," Cassel said. "You go and you try and get better each and every week.
"I rely a lot on the coaching staff to put me in a good position and I try to go out there and execute the game plan to the best of my abilities. Hopefully, I will continue to progress and continue to get a feel for what they're looking for on particular plays and if I can get the ball to Randy that's great. I'd love to do that each and every week. We weren't really able to do that Week 2 and 3 but definitely last week we were."
Cassel, as he's said in the past, continues to hammer home the point that he won't be reckless with the ball in an attempt to get Moss involved. He'll take what the defense gives him, even if that's only short-yardage passes and quick screens.
"You have to try to get the ball to your playmakers and obviously Randy is one of the best playmakers in the NFL, so we're going to continue to try and do that whichever way we can," he said.
"I told people this before, but I rely heavily on the coaches from a play-calling standpoint and I just try to go out there and execute it. I can try to force the ball downfield and do these things but for me, I'm just going to go through my progressions and if we talk about trying to get him the ball then that's what I'll do."
These days, Cassel walks around with a bit of a swagger -- perhaps an edge from knowing he's now 2-1 as a starter after having to take over for the reigning league MVP in Week 1. At the same time, he's quick to thank his teammates, especially his running backs, who've helped the Patriots set the tone offensively.
"Any time you can get the running game going it opens up other aspects of the offense," Cassel said. "Those running backs ran hard (against San Francisco) -- Sammy (Morris), Kevin (Faulk), Laurence (Maroney) and LaMont (Jordan). They're all running the ball really hard and hopefully that continues."
With success comes fame, and Cassel has certainly received his fair share of attention in the past few weeks, but his focus remains on leading the Patriots back to the playoffs.
"You just don't pay any attention to it," he said. "You go out and you have to play your game. All the rest of that stuff just goes along with it. Once you get out there and you take that first snap all that stuff goes out the window. You can talk about it and stuff, but the fact is when it comes down to it, it's playing football."
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