logoThe Pats are off this weekend after Thursday night’s disappointing loss to New York, so the Sunday papers are kind of light this morning. Still, a few links stand out.

Top Links

1. Patriots Report Card, by Ron Borges, Boston Herald. As he did on Friday morning, Ron continues to insist no torch was passed when the Jets outlasted the Pats with an overtime win in Foxborough. The Pats did do enough wrong lose their divisional lead, so fair grades all around here. He couldn’t be more accurate with his assessment of Ben Watson. We have a saying around my house: “NEVER, NEVER F**KING THROW THE BALL TO BEN WATSON!” We wore that out on Thursday night, unfortunately.

2. Putting out the welcome Matt for Cassel, by John Tomase, Boston Herald. In the wake of Cassel’s tour de force in a losing effort, Tomase looks ahead at the quarterback’s options as he approaches free agency. Allow me to cast a vote for ‘franchise him.’ You mean to tell me the Pats will put four years into this guy and then let him walk away for nothing just as he begins to show some value as a NFL player? God forbid.

One other thing – this idea that Cassel can’t throw the deep ball?  What about the ball he threw to Randy Moss on opening day against the Chiefs? The 66 yarder against San Francisco? The one to Jabar Gaffney, which could have made the difference in Indy had Gaffney managed to hold on to the perfect throw? Those suggest to me that he can.

Yet some will stubbornly insist he can’t, and never will, because he hasn’t completely mastered every element of the quarterback position in ten games as a starter. Ridiculous. Don’t act as if it’s a routine play. Be honest – not a single person thought Cassel was capable of anything after three anonymous seasons and one horrible exhibition slate as the Pats starter. I think Matt Cassel has already proven that every single one of us had no idea what he was capable of. We all said it, especially when Brady went down – Matt Cassel can’t. The Patriots are finished, because Matt Cassel just can’t. Isn’t it fair to suggest now that maybe he can? So now you’re going to dismiss him as a dink-and-dunk coaching creation that will inevitably be exposed, because he’s not routinely throwing 40 yard completions?

What was it that Einstein said? The definition of insanity is doing (saying) the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?

3. Patriots’ Mayo went heavy on the tackles against the Jets, by Mike Reiss, Boston Globe. Reiss looks back on Mayo’s 20 tackle star-turn on Thursday night. It sure looks like the Pats picked a real winner last April. If the season happens to go south from here, and New England ends up with another pick in the top 15, two words: offensive line. For God’s sake, offensive line.

4. Long range plan is working, by Mike Reiss, Boston Globe. Reiss’s weekly Football Notes column is a must read every Sunday. This morning, Ravens kicker Steven Hauschka of Needham gets top billing in a piece that also looks at potential head coaching vacancies, and whether undefeated Tennessee can run the table.

5. ’85 Patriots broke the Miami vise, by Glen Farley, Brockton Enterprise. Seriously, the last thing I expected to be reading about this morning was old favorite Cedric Jones (…..from Duke University!), but Farley looks ahead to next weekend’s big trip to Miami by recalling that golden moment from January of 1986, when the Pats finally squished the fish after years of 18 years of futility.

Though there’s no Patriots game today, there are at least a couple of matchups that will have an impact on them and their quest for the playoffs. Two AFC North teams are currently ahead of the (current) 6th seed Pats, so pull for the 8-1 Giants over the 6-3 Ravens (current #3 seed as North division leader) and the 4-5 Chargers over the 6-3 Steelers (#5 seed as we speak). Wins by New York and San Diego will bring the AFC playoff field back closer to the four-loss Pats, so keep your fingers crossed.

Scott Benson is the Editor and Co-Founder of Patriots Daily. He can be reached at scott@patriotsdaily.com.