Matt Cassel IS the future at quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs.
How’s that sit with you KC fans?
Some of you are nodding your heads in agreement, some of you are ready to reach through the computer screen and strangle me for even suggesting such a thing, and some of you still aren’t sure what to think. Nothing seems to divide Chiefs fans quite like number seven.
Those that support Cassel are seen as out of touch “homers” who are blinded by the glare of the Red and Gold when evaluating their QB. Those that are not happy with his play and would like to see the Chiefs look elsewhere are labeled as “haters” who are just taking out their frustrations and “scapegoating” the QB.
So who’s right and who’s wrong?
I have no idea. Really, I don’t.
So what in the world am I doing writing a post called “All Aboard the Matt Cassel Bandwagon” and making claims about him being the future at QB for the Chiefs? I’ll explain after the jump.
Let me start by saying that I am not here to sell you on how great Matt Cassel is. What I do want to sell you on is the fact that “hating” on Matt Cassel is a waste of your time, energy, and sanity. If you love the Kansas City Chiefs like I do, you can drive yourself crazy focusing on the things that are wrong. I don’t need anyone else to mention that Cassel and his 58.4% completion percentage aren’t quite accurate enough. I know and I agree. I don’t need anyone else to point out that his arm strength and 6.6 yards per attempt aren’t stretching the field as much as we need. I got it. I admit that when it is all on him to convert a 3rd down the Chiefs don’t do that well.
So why get on the bandwagon?
Well, despite our loss to Oakland we are still on track to win the AFC West right now. There is still a TON of football left to play, but given our slight lead and easy schedule things are still looking good. So what do you want to happen at QB for the Chiefs? Do you really want Cassel to struggle so much that they have to pull him for Brodie Croyle?
Let’s take a time out for a second in case any of you actually answered “yes” to that Croyle question. In case you forgot, here are Brodie’s numbers:
0-9 as a starter
57.7% completion percentage
5.4 yards per attempt
8 TDs and 8 Ints
He can’t stay healthy, and even if he could, Mr. “Rocket Arm, Stretch the Field” Croyle averages 1.2 yards per attempt LESS then what Cassel is averaging this season. He’s not one of “Pioli’s guys”. Haley seems to have a huge man crush on Cassel. Cassel has the big contract and Brodie doesn’t. It’s just not happening. Ever. Let it go.
Now let’s continue.
So we’re on track to win the division and we’re NOT turning things over to our back up QB. So if you are dead set on Cassel not being our QB going forward there are two possible scenarios. First, Cassel stinks it up and we end up not winning the division. If this is the case I will be the first one on the bandwagon for getting a new QB next year. However, there is no way on God’s green Earth that the Chiefs fan in me can hope that we don’t make the playoffs. So the other scenario is that Cassel plays well enough for us to make the playoffs. Now what?
So we are coming off a division title and playoff birth only one year removed from a 4-12 season and you want the organization to make a QB change? Who are you hoping we’ll get? Your choices are a veteran that isn’t wanted by his current team or a rookie. I realize that each of the last two seasons a rookie QB has made the playoffs, but look at their numbers for those seasons compared to Cassel’s numbers so far this year.
Joe Flacco – 60%, 185.7 yards/game, 14 TD, 12 Int, 6.9 yards/attempt, 80.3 QB rating
Mark Sanchez – 53.8%, 162.9 yards/game, 12 TD, 20 Int, 6.7 yards/attempt, 63.0 QB rating
Matt Cassel – 58.4%, 176.5 yards/game, 12 TD, 4 Int, 6.6 yards/attempt, 89.2 QB rating
So best case scenario you’d be getting a rookie QB who puts up numbers equal to or slightly worse then Cassel is right now. Keep in mind, Cassel is on pace for 24 TDs and only 8 interceptions. Since the Chiefs won’t be picking at the top of the first round this year the Sam Bradfords of the world won’t be available. Of all the rookie QBs that’s the BEST case scenario. Or you could get something like:
46.8%, 131.7 yards/game started, 1 TD, 4 Int, 4.6 yards/attempt, 48.0 QB rating
That would be Jimmy Clausen’s numbers so far this season.
Now if you want to sell me on drafting a QB in the mid rounds to groom and develop behind Cassel for a couple of years, I’m in, but those of you screaming “Cassel better be gone next year!” from the roof tops need to explain to me who you think is going to walk through the door and be trusted to take over the starting QB job, when we’re coming off a division title and playoff birth. If you go with a rookie, the numbers say you’ll be taking a step back at QB production next year. Now maybe that’s worth it to you in the long run, to take a step back next year to develop someone long term. I just think it will be hard to sell a young and hungry team coming off a playoff birth that you’re going to delay things a couple more years to bring along a rookie QB, especially with the percentage of “flops” at that position. There is no guarantee that any QB drafted would be better then Cassel is right now. You can tell me “Anybody would be better then Cassel!” all you want, but the numbers don’t back that up. Not unless some team decides to let a proven winner that is still in his prime just walk in free agency and most teams just aren’t willing to do that.
Even then, how many QBs are clearly better then Matt Cassel?
Cassel’s 89.2 QB rating is 13th in the league. That’s better then some “big names” like Schaub, Flacco, Cutler, Palmer, Sanchez, McNabb, and Favre.
I know, I know, some of you are thinking “Dude, QB ratings are worthless!”
How about the fact that his 12 TDs are tied for 10th in the league? That’s more then Schaub, Cutler, Sanchez, McNabb, and Favre.
Of all the QBs in the league that have started every game for their team this season Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Matt Cassel are the only ones with only 4 interceptions.
“Yeah but look at how many less attempts Cassel has then the others! That’s why he has so many less INTs! He doesn’t take any chances!” some will argue.
Well first of all, if you are going to use his lack of attempts against him when looking at interceptions then you have to give him credit for being tied for 10th in TDs with that few of attempts. Look at this list of QB’s attempts per TD pass.
David Garrard – 11.5
Eli Manning – 15.9
Phillip Rivers – 17.3
Matt Cassel – 17.8
Tom Brady – 18.6
Aaron Rodgers – 20.2
Drew Brees – 20.8
Peyton Manning – 21.9
So how does someone who “plays it too safe” end up near the top of the league in attempts per TD pass? When you look at those numbers its hard to argue with his decision making.
Some of you are going to come at me with “You can make numbers say anything you want! The bottom line is we need a QB who can win games.”
Ah yes, the “stats are for losers” argument.
Fine, then I guess we need to go out and get one of the seven QBs who currently have led their teams to a whopping one more win this season then Cassel has. Those QBs are Mark Sanchez, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, and Drew Brees. So exactly which one of those do you see us landing this off season?
Finally, we don’t need Matt Cassel to be Peyton Manning or Drew Brees to make the playoffs year in and year out. If you look at the last three seasons, 30% of the playoff teams averaged less than 200 yards per game passing (11 of 36). The last three Super Bowl winners (Saints, Steelers, and Giants) have only averaged 225.2 yards/game passing. Cassel’s career average in his starts is 205.9.
I’m not saying Cassel is playing great. I’m not saying I don’t yell at the TV when he overthrows an open receiver. I’m not saying you should put on a big dopey smile and wear an “I heart Matt Cassel” t-shirt. I’m just telling you that Matt Cassel is going to be our QB this season. I think we’re going to win the division. If that happens, he’s going to be the QB again next season. You can let his sometimes mediocre play ruin the Chiefs turnaround season if you like. It’s a free country. Or you can accept the fact that he is going to be our QB for the foreseeable future, warts and all, and enjoy the fact that this organization has built a team around him that still allows us to go out and win ball games.
The bottom line is I don’t see any better options out there any time soon. If we are a playoff team with Matt Cassel this year and he keeps playing as he is now it would be crazy to spend our first round draft pick on a QB. Cassel is on pace to finish with 24 TDs and 8 INTs people! How can you justify using a first or even a second round pick on a QB when we have other major needs and our current QB is being that efficient?
So I’m on the Matt Cassel bandwagon. Not because I think he’s perfect. Not because I think he’s going to develop into a pro bowler. Like I said at the beginning of this little rant, I don’t know if he’s the answer. I don’t know if he’ll lead us to our first playoff win since the Montana days. Your guess is as good as mine. I’m still on the Matt Cassel bandwagon though, because I think on a team that’s built on its run game and defense he’s the best option we have now and going forward in the future. He’s a hard worker and a team first guy. I’m rooting for him to do well. I guess if that means I’m drinking the Matt Cassel “Kool Aid”, so be it. It won’t be the first time or the last I’ve been accused of such a thing. So I’m in. Now who’s with me?