New England Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, November 26, 2008.
Q: Can you talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers defense?
MC: They are a great team defensively. They are No. 1 in almost every category from red zone to third down. They have a lot of sacks. They create pressure with their fronts. They give you multiple looks and multiple personnel groups. It is going to be quite a challenge for us this week. They are a good defense and we respect them for the type of defense they play. Week in and week out they are very aggressive and are a very good defense.
Q: How fun has it been for you the past two weeks? You have thrown the ball 94 times in the past two games. That has to be a lot of fun for a quarterback...
MC: It is a lot of fun as a quarterback to get out there and throw the ball around and throw the ball 94 times like you said the last two weeks. That is what all quarterbacks hope to do is to throw the ball and get some completions. To be able to go down there and get a win in a division game was big for us too. That is always fun.
Q: Is it a sign of the confidence the coaching staff has in you that they seemed to have opened up the offense for you the past two weeks?
MC: I don't know. We change from one week to the next based on game plan. It is all based on what their defense does and how we feel that we can best beat them that week. In the last two weeks, we threw the ball a lot. I don't know if that will be the case this week. We will see.
Q: In the last two weeks you have played teams that you faced earlier in the season with the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. It seemed like the game plan was different the second time you faced those teams. Do you think that you would have been capable of executing that type of game plan earlier in the season or is it just a sign of your progression?
MC: There is really no telling to be completely honest because the game plans were so different. I would like to say that of course I would be able to go out there and execute like I did the past two weeks but it is all in the past. That is something that we can speculate all we want but I really can't answer that question honestly without having the same exact game plan and playing the same opponent.
Q: What is your reaction to the NFL saying that offensive tackle Matt Light will not be suspended for what happened against the Miami Dolphins last week?
MC: It will be great to have Light out there. I am happy they [NFL] came out with that ruling especially as a quarterback because you love your left tackle and especially Matt Light. He is such a great player. That is great.
Q: Can you talk about the progression the team has made since the beginning of the season?
MC: I think we continue to progress as a team and as an offense. As you go on in the season, it is important to continue to build on the things that you do well and correct the things that you have done wrong. I think offensively, we have been able to do that over the last so many weeks. We have really focused on the things that we need to improve on and continue to get better in that area. Also, build on the things that we have done well.
Q: Has it become easier for you to work with the offense since you became the starter?
MC: This job itself, it is never easy. You get more comfortable and you get more comfortable with the personnel, receivers and just running the offense in general. From that regard, I do feel more comfortable from where I was earlier in the season. The job itself is never easy; it is a constant grind.
Q: Has there been anything that has surprised you going from backup to starter? With the different levels of scrutiny, criticism and praise that goes on every week. It is a radical change from what you have gone through in the past...
MC: There is no doubt. You learn something every week. Like you said, it such a radical change going from a backup to a starter with your responsibilities on and off the field. Every week, I learn something new and what I maybe shouldn't do and what I should be doing. From this press conference that I do every week...I am learning as I am going. I have adapted and adjusted pretty well so far with handling everything that I need to handle from a responsibility stand point. It is definitely a different role from being the backup and being in the background.
Q: How different is it for you now? Going back to training camp some people were saying that you aren't the best to backup quarterback Tom Brady. Now, some people are saying that you should be the starter from here on out?
MC: I can't speculate on any of that stuff but it is the funny part of sports and the great part of sports also, that as a player you can be counted out one minute and the next minute you perform well. You can change the future and change people's perspective of you based on how you perform. That's sports in general. That is why we love sports because it's always so unpredictable. You can never predict on what one player is going to do based on certain situations. We can all speculate but you just have to keep going out there as a player and work hard and be diligent about your work. Hopefully it works out in the end.
Q: At Boston College their backup has become the starter now. I am not sure if you are aware of that right now...
MC: [laughter] I am not. I have a lot going on.
Q: Their quarterback right now is Dominique Davis. He became the starter after quarterback Chris Crane was injured. What advice would you give a college kid that is all of a sudden thrown in the spotlight?
MC: The No. 1 thing that I would say to any backup that goes into that situation is to trust your preparation. You are here for a reason. The coaches believe in you. Otherwise, you wouldn't be the No. 2 quarterback and somebody else would be doing your job. I have said that since Day 1. I have always had a lot of faith in myself because of Coach Belichick... I am the backup quarterback here for a reason. It is not just because 'oh, we will just pick this guy to be our backup this week.' It is because I worked hard and I proved to the coaching staff and the other players that I deserve to be here. As any backup, trust your preparation and go in there and do what you have been told.
Q: Just tell your offensive line to block really hard...
MC: That is awesome. That is always a good point.
Q: Can you talk about the role offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has played in your progression this season?
MC: Josh McDaniels is a special coach. He is brilliant. Every week, week in and week out, I am always amazed coming in and finding out what is next in the game plan for this week because he is so good and so detailed. He works so hard. All the coaching staff does here. Josh and I have a great relationship. He is a younger guy. He is able to relate to you. He knows how to push you when he needs to push you and pull back when he needs to do that. From a coaching standpoint, I couldn't be more blessed than to have a guy like Josh McDaniels on my side and working with me. I always feel like by Saturday night before the game, he is going to put me in the best position to be successful.
Q: Now that you have had success as a starting quarterback, could you see yourself as a backup again?
MC: As a quarterback and a competitor, you always want to play. No matter what happens. I can't predict the future and I don't know what the future holds. All I know is that we have the Steelers this week. I am going to push forward and prepare for that and worry about the future later.
Q: You have been throwing the football all over the place as of late. Do you have to pace yourself since you are not use to throwing this much during the season?
MC: I only threw the ball 32 times in college. I had a lot of rest. This thing [right shoulder] is rested up so I am going to be completely honest - I think it is pretty durable for throughout the course of one season so far.
Q: Could you have ever imagined you would have had the success you have had recently?
MC: Personally, you never know what is going to happen. I always believed in myself. I was never a big stats guy. Even on Sunday, you don't even think about it as it is going. You just go out there and continue to push forward as the offense goes. A lot of guys made some great plays out there. It just allows you and then all of a sudden stats come out and you are like 'wow that is pretty impressive that you can throw for 400 yards back to back.' For me personally, it is very gratifying to know that all the hard work and preparation you put in during the week comes out on Sunday.
Q: With tomorrow being Thanksgiving, are you pretty thankful for what has transpired this season for you?
MC: There is no doubt. I am thankful. Every single day I get on my knees. I am blessed. There is no doubt about that. In what I am doing, I have been working for a long time. To just have the opportunity to come up finally that I have been working so hard for I am very blessed.
Q: So when you're eating your Thanksgiving dinner you are still going to be going over the game plan...
MC: Probably. A little gravy on this and maybe some film on the wall.