With training camp set to begin July 24th, I will begin my training camp preview series. In each segment I will analyze the position, and each player at it.
Do I really need to say anything about Brady? Laser, rocket arm. Terrific pocket awareness. Great lockerroom leadership. Clutch player. In fact, I don’t have to go through his strengths and weaknesses. Tom is Tom, and 50 touchdowns should explain the rest.
2008 Training Camp is going to be very critical for fourth year quarterback Matt Cassel. Cassel is in a contract year, and is therefore playing for his second contract. Heres to hoping Cassel can get it together, have a terrific preseason, and have good trade value. Personally, although I like Cassel a lot, I can’t envision a scenario where he is with the team past 2008. With a decent arm, good speed, and the ability to manage an offense, Cassel could one day be a starter for an NFL franchise. On the other hand, with the keen ability to make erratic decisions on the field, and two younger quarterbacks pushing, Cassel could find himself on waivers before the end of the preseason.
Gutierrez is as intriguing as they come. Gutierrez was a Michigan product before transferring to Idaho State after losing his starting job to a shoulder injury. The thing about Gutierrez is that his potential is sky high. Once a highly touted quarterback, Gutierrez puts zip on the ball that rivals Tom Brady. He has good pocket prescence, great work ethic, and tremendous size. If Gutierrez beats out Cassel this training camp, he could be with the team as a backup for a long time.
Back in late April, the Patriots surprised everyone by selecting San Diego State quarterback Kevin O’Connell. O’Connell has the size, speed, and throwing ability to become an excellent starting quarterback. He needs to work on mechanics and he can be inconsistent at times (his inconsistency was more than evident during mini-camps). Some people have labeled him as Tom Brady’s eventual successor. While that is unforeseeable at this time, O’Connell will be on the team in 2008, and will have several years to develop in the Patriots system.
Quarterback is by no stretch of the imagination a need for the Patriots. They have one of the greatest all-time quarterbacks at the helm, with three young guys developing underneath. The only downside of this unit is experience behind Tom Brady. Otherwise, this unit is golden as can be.
Team Grade: A