Chiefs backup QB Brodie Croyle has a chance to stir up a mini QB controversy this Thursday when he returns to action against the Green Bay Packers.
Don’t believe me? Just watch.
Chiefs Nation is getting nervous. A couple of months ago, most fans were happy to blame all of Matt Cassel’s 2009 struggles on his 2009 teammates. Most reasonable fans would admit that Cassel was far from a finished project but no one was ready to call him a bust just yet. They wanted to see what he did with some talent around him.
Now that the 2010 preseason is nearly complete, it is apparent that Cassel does have talent around him. His offensive line looks light years ahead of last year’s group. He is throwing to the same top two receivers he ended the season throwing to in 2009 in Dwayne Bowe and Chris Chambers. Bowe thus far looks like a new man, holding on to most of his passes in limited action. The running game that sputtered a season ago when lead by Larry Jonson appears to be one of the most dynamic in the league being lead by Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles. Dexter McCluster has emerged as an offensive X-factor and Javier Arenas is setting Cassel and the offense up with favorable field position.
Only to most observers, Cassel looks, well, the same. He is holding on to the ball too long. He appears just as skittish in the pocket this year when he has time to throw as he did last year when he didn’t. He is not throwing the ball down field and appears content with checking down to his outlet man or or falling forward for a one yard gain.
The worries about Cassel’s preseason performance are understandable if not unfair. Cassel had very limited snaps in both the Atlanta and Tamp games. His performance early against the Eagles was not good but he did rebound to lead the Chiefs on a long drive in the second quarter. To be fair, the Eagles are a very good defense and Cassel won’t be the last young QB to struggle against a good defense.
Still, Cassel has not looked like the guy Chiefs fans want to see under center and for fan base that is desperately tired of losing, that is a concern. Fans want Cassel to succeed but as the Chiefs becomes more talented, if it appears he is holding the team back, they will turn on him.
That is why I worry about what Croyle might do Thursday night. Cassel is likely to get a series or two but that is it. That means Croyle, who has missed the last two preseason games due to injury, will get the bulk of the snaps.
The thing about Croyle is that he just looks better than Matt Cassel throwing the football. He has a very strong arms and at times, can simply make throws that Matt Cassel can’t. Croyle also seems more willing to go down field than Cassel.
You see where this is going.
If Cassel has another rough outing Thursday and then Croyle comes in and leads a couple of touchdown drives against Green Bay’s scrubs, folks could start to get really restless. The media won’t be able to resist bringing up the QB controversy. Even though everyone knows Croyle doesn’t stand a snowballs chance in hell of starting save an injury or a total meltdown on the part of Matt Cassel, they will bring it up.
They shouldn’t but they will.
Of course none of this will matter if Croyle comes in and throws a couple of picks or, and this is more likely, gets injured walking in to the huddle. Still, if he plays well, there could be trouble.
We simply won’t be able to accurately judge Cassel until he has played a few regular season games. Frankly, Cassel deserves at least half a season to prove that he is getting better and making good use of his new weapons. He has accomplished more in one game than Croyle has in his entire NFL career. There is plenty of doubt about Cassel. There is no doubt about Croyle. Cassel might be able to succeed int he NFL. We know Croyle probably can’t.
So even if Croyle comes in Thursday night and throws for 400 yards and 5 touchdowns, resist the urge to call for Cassel’s head. Bodie Croyle has a fair amount of experience at the NFL level now and with his skill set, he should be able to come in and light it up against a bunch of guys who aren’t even going to be playing in the NFL this season. It won’t mean he is a better QB than Cassel.
The time to judge Cassel and for that matter, this entire team, will come soon enough. For now, let’s take a deep breath and enjoy the fact that at the very least, this team is going to be a heck of a lot more fun to watch in 2010 than it was in 2009. The Matt Cassel situation will work itself off.
Just beware of Croyle. He is a false prophet.