If the NFL teaches us one thing year in and year out it is that past success is not an indication of future sucess.
Unfortunately for the Kansas City Chiefs, Scott Pioli and Todd Haley, Matt Cassel’s successes in New England were not an indication of future sucess in Kansas City. And while Cassel’s struggles over his last 19 starts are not proof that he won’t suceed down the road, they are proof that he is not a good QB right now.
And that is a problem for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Matt Cassel apologists will jump all over this article. They will say I am being too hard on Cassel. They’ll say I am not giving him enough time. They’ll do what apologists and sycophants do; they’ll make excuses.
Before all the hate comes flying in let’s make one thing perfectly clear; no one in Kansas City wants Matt Cassel to fail. He is a great guy, he works hard and everybody likes him. Everyone, except maybe Brodie Croyle, is rooting for him.
That should go without saying but the folks wearing the red and gold colored glasses will beg to differ. They can’t separate their love for their favorite team with what they are seeing on the field. They think just because the Chiefs are 3-1 and leading a horrible AFC West that it is foolish to complain. They spit venom when guys like Kent Babb, Jason Whitlock, Nick Wright and Sam Mellinger try to tell them the truth.
They spit venom at me.
“Wait till they lose before you start tearing down the team,” they told me after the Chiefs squeaked by the Cleveland Browns on the back of Brandon Flowers. “You just want to stir up controversy where there is none. We’re undefeated and Cassel is playing fine.”
It isn’t Cassel’s performance in the Colts game that is spurring this article and the other articles like it that will surly emerge today. It is about Cassel’s body of work since arriving in Kansas City.
Cassel didn’t lose the game for the Chiefs on Sunday against the Colts. He didn’t turn the ball over and he didn’t take any unnecessary sacks. And yes, Bowe screwed him by dropping a sure touchdown pass. No, Cassel was not responsible for the Chiefs loss to the Colts.
But he wasn’t responsible for a victory either and that is where the Chiefs have a problem.
The blue print on how to beat the Chiefs is out there now. Stack the box, stuff the run and force Matt Cassel to beat you. Double team Tony Moeaki because he is the only Chiefs “receiver” who can catch the ball and put a spy on Dexter McCluster. Do that, avoid Brandon Flowers and you have a pretty good chance to take down the Chiefs.
Cassel has a 55.7 completion percentage through 4 games. He has 4 touchdowns vs. 2 interceptions and he had completed 58 of 106 pass attempts for an average of 6.13 yards per pass.
Let me put that in perspective for you. Jamaal Charles is averaging more on the ground (6.5 yards per carry) than Cassel is through the air. That means is the Chiefs are facing a third and long they have a better chance of getting the first down by handing the ball off to Charles than having Cassel drop back to pass.
Heck, Dexter McCluster can leap for more yards than Cassel can average through the air.
Cassel is out of excuses. He has the 3rd best rushing attack in the league. He has Charlie Weis and Todd Haley drawing up plays designed to help him succeed. He has a fantastic outlet man in Tony Moeaki. He has Dexter McCluster. His offensive line has given up 2 sacks in 4 games. I don’t have the numbers in front of me but I am willing to bet that that is the best in the league.
Oh and his defense is so good that he only needs to score about 16 points to win.
And don’t start complaining about the wide receivers. Trent Green made it work with a running game, an old wide receiver, a pass catching TE and a bad defense. Cassel may not have a strong receiving core but good quarterbacks do more with less and Matt Cassel is not a good quarterback.
Todd Haley is stuck. He is handcuffed to Cassel because of his GM. If Scott Pioli slipped on a banana peel and fell into a temporary coma, leaving all responsibility to Todd Haley, when he woke up, Brodie Croyle would be the starting QB for the Kansas City Chiefs. You can take that to the bank.
Unfortunately, Haley isn’t in charge and Pioli is going to keep him on the Matt Cassel train until the end of the season.
I’m not campaigning for Croyle to start. At best he would only be a minor upgrade over Cassel. What the Chiefs would gain in Croyle’s arm they would lose in his poor decision making and propensity to throw the ball to the wrong team. After a week or two, he’d throw his back out loading the dishwasher and the Cassel train would be pulling back into the station anyway.
There is no way out for the Chiefs. There is no immediate solution. They look as if they’ll be too good to get in to the QB sweepstakes.
Unless Todd Haley can send Lenard Pope and Moe Carthon out to Iowa to flatter Kurt Warner out of retirement, the Chiefs only hope is that Charlie Weis can find a way to make Matt Cassel productive.
If not, in the end, it will be Cassel that is holding the Chiefs back.