Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley finally stood up for his QB Monday after Matt Cassel took some heavy criticism following the Chiefs 19-9 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Regardless of which side of the “Matt Cassel Talent Fence” you stand on, Todd Haley’s defense of Matt Cassel was the right move.
It is no secret that Matt Cassel is not playing well. There are those that will make excuses for him but that doesn’t matter. Excuses won’t hide what is happening on the field and eventually Cassel will face his judgment.
Until then, however, there is no sense in throwing the kid to the wolves and Haley knows it.
Cassel is trying to lead a 3-1 team on a playoff run and the absolute worst thing that could happen to the Kansas City Chiefs would be for the head coach to pull the rug out from under him.
The Chiefs don’t really have a better option than Cassel. Brodie Croyle has his own set of talents but he has just as many flaws as Cassel. Starting him over Cassel would make waves on a team that doesn’t need them and probably wouldn’t make much of a difference in the passing attack. Obviously if Cassel has some sort of meltdown the Chiefs will be forced to go with Croyle but until that happens they have to roll with the guy they’ve got.
I said yesterday that I thought that if Haley had complete control, that he would start Cassel. I still believe that in a sense. I think Haley would have started Croyle to start the season but I no longer believe he would yank Cassel right now. Croyle has a better arm and can make a lot of throws that Cassel can’t. I think that Haley likes Croyle and would probably have rather taken his chances developing Brodie than a noodle armed Cassel. However, after a 3-1 start, I don’t think Haley would make the change. Not after what he said yesterday.
Haley knew his team would be better but I don’t think even he anticipated that they would be playing as well as they are. Haley is no dummy. He knows the position his team is in. He knows that the rest of the AFC is bumbling. He knows that the Chiefs have a cupcake schedule, a solid running game, excellent special teams and a very good defense. He also knows that he has a better coaching staff than 99% of the teams he will face this season.
Haley knows the Chiefs can probably make the playoffs with below average QB play. He knows it would be a very important step forward for the organization to have a playoff game. He knows how valuable the experience of the playoffs will be to his young team. They will be able to draw on that experience when they are legit Super Bowl contenders.
Pulling Cassel now could muck all that up.
Cassel is not playing well but he probably isn’t playing any worse than Croyle would if he were taking the snaps. If Haley yanks Cassel now he risks dividing the locker room and obliterating what little confidence Cassel has left. This could be especially damaging if Croyle’s durability problems take him down and Cassel has to step back into the starting role. Haley would be stuck with a basket case QB and no backup. He would run the risk of upsetting the stable foundation he has been laying since he took over.
No, the best bet is to stick with Cassel, put him in the best position to succeed and hope he improves. If he does, fantastic. If he doesn’t, he could still be adequate enough to ride Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones and the defense to the playoffs.
Will he win the Chiefs the Super Bowl? Hell no.
But neither will Brodie Croyle.
If Cassel does improve then Haley looks like a genius for sticking by his guy. If he doesn’t improve, Haley can hardly be blamed. He didn’t bring Cassel to KC and no one is going to call for his resignation for failing to start Brodie Croyle. When the season is over, the Chiefs can attempt get a QB because Cassel’s contract allows them to do that. It isn’t by accident that Cassel’s contract is front loaded. Pioli knew the kid might not work out so he gave himself a two year escape clause.
Lastly, the Chiefs know that the very best thing for the whole organization is for Matt Cassel to develop. They aren’t going to find a franchise QB on the scrap heap at this time of the year. There is no white knight coming to rescue them for their passing woes.
It is the Matt Cassel train or bust in 2010. Might as well get on board.