Next Pats Podcast

Matt Cassel: QBs are ‘absolutely' tapped for intel on former team

Could Will Grier be a secret weapon for the Patriots against the Cowboys?

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The Dallas Cowboys aren't taking any chances ahead of their Week 4 matchup against the New England Patriots.

With the Pats having two ex-Cowboys on their roster in backup quarterback Will Grier and running back Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas will change its hand signals to guard against their former players giving New England's defense valuable intel.

"We’re always aware of it,” Cowboys offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said, via Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith. “Those are things we monitor every week.

"But, certainly, we know Will knows where a lot of the bones are buried. Zeke does as well. So those are things you talk about and you think, 'OK, let’s adjust this.'"

Former Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel knows a thing or two about being interrogated for information on a former team. He spoke about a time when he was in Grier's position during the latest episode of the Next Pats Podcast with Phil Perry.

🔊 Next Pats: Do the Patriots have a SECRET WEAPON for their matchup against the Cowboys? | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

"It absolutely goes on," Cassel said of players being interrogated for intel on their former team. "And it's interesting because when I actually went to Dallas and I got traded from Buffalo to Dallas, we played the Patriots I think the week before I got traded, and then I went to Dallas. I wasn't preparing to start because they had Brandon Weeden that was going to start for that period of time, but we were preparing for the Patriots.

"I went over with the defensive side of the ball and we talked about signals that I saw. We talked about how they set up their protection schemes, particularly their empty protection scheme because they had a lot of different empty sets. So, how they handled three-down fronts, how they handled four-down fronts, where the turn happened, different maybe potential calls that you would hear."

As Cassel explains, teams are constantly changing code words and signals to keep their opponents from gaining an advantage.

"It's an arms race and it's also one of those things that you're trying to get that communication because it's crazy in today's day and age, especially with the media coverage and television coverage," Cassel said. "The advanced scouting department will go back and they'll watch the game film from the TV copy more so than some of those others, just to pick up on certain calls, communication packages that are taking place at the line of scrimmage, tempo packages. Because in tempo, particularly when I was in Detroit, we had code words that we'd use that we'd have to constantly switch up.

"In addition to that, the signals are a big part of it because if you can get any advantage for the defensive back to sit out there and pick up on a certain signal that they can jump a certain route, then they're gonna try to do that. So, we were constantly changing signals."

Patriots-Cowboys is set for a 4:25 p.m. ET kickoff this Sunday at AT&T Stadium.

Also in the episode:

  • What intel would Will Grier be giving the Patriots? 
  • Tom Brady wants to punch Cassel!
  • How to fix the downfield passing game 
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