FOXBORO - The Patriots better hope Tom Brady gets rid of the ball damn quick and Marcus Cannon stays on the sidelines this season. Because the release of Brian Hoyer on Friday means that the only thing standing between the Patriots and a quick slide to mediocrity is Brady's health and the beginning of the Ryan Mallett Experience. Mallett's not ready. Period. His decision-making, his accuracy, his tempo in and out of the huddle, his pocket-awareness, his confidence, it simply didn't show up in preseason. Not just the games but in the practices and the drills as well. As underwhelming as Hoyer was in preseason play, as noodle-armed as he is on any throw over 25 yards, when it comes to decision-making Hoyer is Stephen Hawking, Mallett is Snooki. You saw that practice after practice when Hoyer was the more accurate, precise and decisive thrower by a far sight. Honestly, it's a good thing Mallett's arm is twice as strong as Hoyer's. He makes decisions half as fast and has to fit balls into tiny, often non-existent windows. Unfortunately, he's got the potential to hit a cheerleader with any throw because of his too-busy mechanics. I'm not saying that Mallett won't get better and that he cannot be a good NFL quarterback. I'm saying that putting him a missed block away from quarterback the defending AFC Champion's ensuresthat, if worse comes to worse,expect the worst. Screwed either way if Brady got hurt? I disagree. Hoyer at least could caddy the Patriots into the playoffs if Brady got himself hurt. Mallett will crash the bus.Wednesday night against the New York Giants' scrubs, Mallett started the game by throwing low on a screen to Eric Kettani, throwing late to the sideline after being befuddled (shoulda been a pick-6) and throwing behind Jesse Holley on another screen. Simple throws. He also took a pair of sacks. Mallett was 33 of 67 (49.2 percent) for 300 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.He outplayed Hoyer statistically and Mallett did have a nice end-of-game run against the Bucs. But his performance was outrageously poor in some camp practices, to the point that I felt compelled to ask Bill Belichick two weeks ago if there was anything redeeming about Mallett's struggles. It's a very worthwhile read, all of it. Not because of the stellar prose by me, but Belichick's insight. This is the part I'll share."For any player, you want to try to make sure that the player is improving," Belichick said. "As long as he's improving, then you're not sure how far he can go. Once they stop improving for whatever the reasons are, once there is no more improvement then you have to decide as an organization what value that player has at that level. If you're happy with it and it's a good level, then great. If it's not and you don't think it's going to get any better then you have to live with that or replace the player with somebody else that maybe isn't as good that you think could be better."
And that, in a nutshell, is why Hoyer is gone and Mallett remains. Hoyer hit his ceiling, in the Patriots' eyes. Mallett's still heading up. Which is nice. Meanwhile, though, "Heads up, Brady..."