The talk in Kansas City these days seems to be centering on youth. Guys like Eric Berry, Dexter McCluster and Jamaal Charles are receiving the bulk of the attention but there is one person Chiefs fans seem to have forgotten about.
I have been amused lately as I read through article after article previewing the Chiefs 2010 season. When speaking of Cassel, the pundits always say the same thing. They say he was a big disappointment in 2009 and although they concede that he had a terrible team around him, they are always sure to mention that he is unlikely to every be great. They always make sure to throw in that he only did well in NE because of Moss and Welker.
I think this is crap.
2 years ago, when Cassel was having consecutive games of over 400 passes, no one was talking about how it was all Welker and Moss. They were talking about how amazing it was that this great young QB was just sitting there on the bench. They talked about how far he came from his first start. There was visible progress. NE was super hot down the stretch and no one wanted to play them. The missed the playoffs with an 11-5 record. Cassel had a completion percentage of 69.9. He had 2 games where he completed 30 passes. Despite what the “experts” will tell you, those weren’t all shovel passes to Rand Moss who then sprouted wings and flow over the defenders to the endzone.
I don’t care who you are, what offense you are playing in or who you are throwing the ball to, it is freaking hard to throw for 400 yards against a defense in the NFL. Period.
Yet because Cassel had one poor season playing for a new team, a 3 week old playbook, no running and with different receivers every week who couldn’t catch the ball, all of the sudden he will never be better than average. They seem to think that no matter how bad a team is, the QB should be able to put them on his shoulders and carry them to victory. Even if the receivers can’t catch the ball.
Matt Cassel has the skill to be a great QB. We saw flashes of his ability last year. In particular, I remember the late game drive against the Raiders that ended with a 4th down pass to Dwayne Bowe in the back of the endzone.
Football is a team sport and it is just as unfair to judge Cassel based on the support he received from his teammates last season as it is to attribute all of his success in New England to Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Cassel still got those guys the ball and he still led them to an 11 win season, something no Chiefs QB has been able to do since 2003. Incidentally, 11 wins is 1 more than the 10 the same Patriots team won with Tom Brady in 2009.
Cassel may not ever fully develop in to a great QB but his body of work is so small, at this point it is impossible to judge him one way or another. He has had one good season and one poor season since becoming a full time starter.
As far as I am concerned, the sky is still the limit for Matt Cassel and the Chiefs.