During a recent Kansas City Chiefs game, a commentator suggested that Charlie Weis was brought in for one reason: to turn Matt Cassel into an elite quarterback. True, or not, few would argue that Cassel is considered to have achieved this status already. If Cassel’s re-haul is actually a major focus of Weis, then they both have some work to do. Yet, it would be reasonable to expect Cassel’s performance in the beginning of the reconstruction project to be worse than his performance at the end of his 2009 campaign, as he relearns some things he had done in years past.
Supposedly, one of the strengths of Weis, is his ability to develop a quarterback, so this idea could have some merit. We do know that a change at offensive coordinator forces players to make adjustments, especially at the quarterback position. Although Cassel has had the entire preseason to work with Weis, perhaps he just needs more time – but how much?
More after the jump:
Actually, his first two games aren’t that far from some of last year’s statistics. His current completion percentage of 52% is only slightly lower than his 55% from a year ago. His 28th position in the league after two games regarding average yards per pass is the same as it was at the end of last year. Over the course of the year, his two sacks this year would amount to ten less sacks compared to 2009, but that improvement says more about his lack of passing attempts, and his improved offensive line, than it does about any progress he’s made in his Texas Hold’em style of quarterbacking. His passer rating of 55.8 is better than only a handful of signal callers in the league – a couple of which will still start this Sunday. He ended last year with a mediocre rating of 60.9. Granted it was his first year as a Chief. Now it’s his first year under Weis, as a starting QB, anyway. What’s going to be the excuse next year?
Is it a reach to blame Cassel’s performance on the theory that Weis is forcing him to relearn some things? Probably, but who has a better explanation? When a player starts over, they often don’t do well at first, but given some time and patience, they eventually “get it” and become better than ever. Although, unless Weis has some supernatural way to suddenly enable Cassel to “stretch the field”, it’s doubtful we are going to see a “new and improved” Cassel this year.
Cassel has never been a great QB, but he has shown flashes. He ended 2008 with a 89.6 rating which is a big reason he was given a huge contract. One-year wonders are common in the NFL. The Chiefs are betting Cassel is not one, and that Weis can help him reach his full potential.
Who knows how many games it will take for Cassel to feel comfortable with the new offense, but if he doesn’t get comfortable by this Sunday, a packed Arrowhead crowd will go home disappointed, just as Vernon Davis promised. Against the staunch run defense of San Francisco, regardless of which player the Chiefs utilize on the ground – not named Jamaal Charles – it’s going to fall on Mr. Dink-Dunk Cassel to complete more passes. If Cassel is starting over, hopefully he doesn’t take much longer to re-develop.
With the Chiefs pulling a couple of wins out of their magical hat, it bought Cassel some time which he evidently needed. This Sunday will our patience pay off? I doubt it.