Matt Cassel: Could Philip Rivers fit as Patriots' 'bridge' quarterback?

Matt Cassel: Could Philip Rivers fit as Patriots' 'bridge' quarterback?

The No. 1 characteristic for any quarterback entering the New England Patriots’ system is a high football IQ.

The Patriots put a lot of emphasis on the quarterback to get the offense into the right protection calls. You always see Tom Brady come up and point to a guy on the defense, right? Well, that’s a declaration for the offense for who they’re blocking on a particular play.

There are a lot of complexities to this offense, so you need a guy with a good football IQ who was brought up in a good system and can comprehend that stuff quickly.

You obviously have to be able to make the throws and have the general physical qualities they look for in terms of being a strong pocket passer. But you also have to be able to manage the other stuff.

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That's why Philip Rivers is an intriguing guy, because I still believe he can play at a high level.

He’s obviously an outstanding leader and a veteran. But he's also been in a Los Angeles Chargers system with Ken Whisenhunt, who runs a very similar offensive scheme as New England with similar language. So, there’s some carryover there.

You're going to pay for Rivers. But if you’re looking for a guy to fill a one- to two-year bridge gap, you know what you’re getting with him. You know he’s a competitor. He can still play and is a great leader on the field.

Bringing in Rivers would also give Jarrett Stidham another opportunity to grow behind a veteran guy who's played at a high level for a long time.

That's a big factor in all of this: How much belief do the Patriots have in Stidham?

If you commit to a guy like Rivers, you’re essentially guaranteeing he’s going to be on the field because of his contract situation. You’re saying, "He’s going to be the guy that’s playing."

But if the Patriots really believe in Stidham, then maybe they target a younger guy who isn’t as expensive, such as Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota or Ryan Tannehill: guys who have veteran experience, but you're still comfortable playing Stidham if for some reason they don't work out.

If you do bring in one of those guys, they're going to have to compete for a job. With Jarrett being in the system for a year, he's going to be leaps and bounds ahead of a lot of these guys. So, the Patriots are going to let them compete for the starting job.

The veteran may well win that job, but I can absolutely see a scenario where they bring in a veteran guy and let those two guys compete in the offseason.

Even if they have a lot of confidence in Stidham, though, they’re still going to want a veteran presence in the room who he can bounce ideas off of: a voice who can help him out.

You never know what you're going to get in the draft, so there should be an element of experience with any free agent they bring in.

Editor's note: Matt Cassel had a 14-year NFL career that included four seasons with the New England Patriots (2005-2008). He's joining the NBC Sports Boston team for this season. You can find him on game days as part of our Pregame Live and Postgame Live coverage, as well as on Tom E. Curran’s Patriots Talk podcast and

Remarkable stat shows Patriots' dominance in games decided by 10 or more points

Remarkable stat shows Patriots' dominance in games decided by 10 or more points

The New England Patriots have won a lot of games over the course of the past two decades. Under Bill Belichick, they've been as well-coached as they come and they simply do a lot of the little things right.

With that said, one of the big reasons that they've avoided losing? Typically, if a team wins the game by double digits, it's going to be the Patriots.

According to Boston Sports Info (@BostonSportsInf), the Patriots have been far and away the league's best in games decided by 10+ points since 2001.

That's wildly impressive. Officially, they've won 83 percent of their games that are decided by double figures. To further contextualize how crazy this stat is, the team with the second-most double-digit wins, the Pittsburgh Steelers, has 104, a full 38 less than the Patriots.

That's absolutely mind-blowing.

Some will argue that part of the Patriots' success in this area is related to playing in the AFC East; the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and New York Jets rank in the bottom 11 in this category. But even still, the Patriots' consistency in this category is remarkable, and it's just another feather in the cap of Belichick from his two decades in charge of this team.

It will be interesting to see if Belichick can replicate this success without Tom Brady at the helm. Their performance in such affairs will surely be something to watch as they start a new quarterback -- perhaps Jarrett Stidham -- permanently for the first time since Brady took over as the starter back in 2001.

Tom Brady's heartfelt goodbye video is sure to give Patriots fans chills

Tom Brady's heartfelt goodbye video is sure to give Patriots fans chills

It appears that Tom Brady has finally found the words to officially say goodbye to the New England Patriots and their fans.

Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier in the offseason, ending a 20-year run with the Patriots that saw the team make it to nine Super Bowls and win six. But as Brady explained in a piece on The Players' Tribune, he's ready for a new challenge. And there were rumors that after the magnificent two-decade run, he was simply "Belichick'd out".

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And in addition to all this buzz, Brady was finally able to put together a video goodbye addressed to the Patriots and their fans. Here's a look at the heartfelt farewell, per his official Twitter account.

Surely, that will give fans chills and afford them a chance to relive some of the best moments of Brady's time with the team. And it was nice that Brady officially gave credit and thanks to Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft as well, including a clip saying the following:

It's really just about the relationships, you know? It's about the people that I play for. The people that I play with. I think I came into a great situation here. I think there's been a great coach, a great owner, and great teammates.

And not to mention, great success. The Patriots put together one of the greatest dynasties of all time with Brady and Belichick at the helm. And Brady's video brings back the amazing memories and championships that came over the course of those 20 years.

But now, they'll go their separate ways. Belichick will try to rebuild without Brady. And Brady will give Tampa Bay his all as the 42-year-old continues to provide further evidence that he's the greatest player to ever play the game of football.