As the Broncos prepare for their matchup against the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football, there is one glaring difference between the 2008 Patriots and the team from the past several years — No. 12 is not under center.
It will be Matt Cassel at the helm instead of Tom Brady, last year’s league MVP.
Dre’ Bly looks at the Patriots offense and thinks it’s weird not seeing Brady back there. Brady has always been consistent, even when the Patriots did not have as much offensive firepower as they do now.
“Tom, to me, has been the best quarterback in this league for the last eight years,” Bly said. “He’s been out there doing the same things before he had (Randy) Moss or Wes Welker, posting the same kind of numbers and leading his team to Super Bowls.”
But just because he’s not in the lineup doesn’t mean the Broncos aren’t concerned. They still have a lot of weapons, and Cassel has played solidly thus far in 2008, completing 92-of-142 passes for 910 yards and three touchdowns to four interceptions while leading the Patriots to a 3-2 record.
“He’s capable,” Bly said. “He can throw the ball deep. They’ve got weapons. He’s a guy that hasn’t had a lot of opportunities in his career, but now with Tom going down, he has the opportunity to make plays. I’m sure those guys rally around him.”
STICKING TO THE BALL
Brandon Marshall walked into the locker room holding a football. He held his press conference holding a football. Whenever he was on the sidelines at practice, he was holding a football. Everywhere the third-year wide receiver went Thursday, he held a football.
And since Marshall has had two key fumbles in the last four weeks, it should come as no surprise that his focus has shifted to keeping control of the ball.
“‘Ball security is job security, yours and mine.’ That’s a famous quote by D.J. McCarthy, my wide receivers coach from college,” Marshall said during his press conference. “I’ve been carrying it off and on throughout the week and during practice.”
Against Kansas City, a defender stripped the ball from Marshall, and the Chiefs recovered it. Jay Cutler also fumbled in that game, and the Chiefs scored on both possessions they got from the turnovers.
Last week against the Jaguars, Marshall caught a pass from Cutler inside the Jacksonville 10 yard line, and there he fumbled again. This time, no one stripped it. He just dropped the ball.
And Marshall has no problem pointing the finger at himself for that, taking the blame fully upon himself.
“Basically I just made a move, and I just dropped the ball. I literally dropped the ball,” Marshall told reporters. “He didn’t touch it. He didn’t strip it. I just dropped the ball. It’s just one of those things that you get caught up in the moment and the situation of the game, and you forget about the most important thing and that’s ball security.”
It’s a problem that Marshall will focus on fixing this week. He recalled his stats from a year ago, when he caught 102 passes. In 2007, he only fumbled once, but the Broncos recovered it.
Marshall knows that a fumble could be the difference between winning or losing a game, and as he put it, when the Broncos take care of the ball, they win the game.
“I could be a great receiver without all of those fancy moves, but that’s what keeps me playing this game,” Marshall said. “I have fun out there every time I make a guy miss and see the expression on the guy’s face when I go back to the huddle or guys on the sidelines or the reaction from the crowd. That’s what keeps me going. I’m just going to do a better job of holding on to the ball.”
– Adam Zinser, DenverBroncos.com