If the Kansas City Chiefs have any hope of making the playoffs this season, they have to unleash Matt Cassel.
Okay, so it doesn’t have the same ring to it as Liam Neson saying “release the Krackin” but you get the idea.
I know, I know, I’ve been critical of Cassel most of the season and now here I am calling for him to get more passing attempts. Allow me to explain.
I think Cassel is an average to slightly below average QB right now. He does some things really well and some other things not so well. His major problem is inconsistency. He’ll throw a beautiful pass between three defenders for a touchdown on one play and the next play, he’ll throw the ball five feet over a wide open receivers head. He spent most of the beginning of the year avoiding sacks and getting rid of the football but in the last three games he’s been sack ten times. In Denver he was sacked outside of the pocket with ample time to get rid of the football when his team was in field goal range. He completed 69% of his passes against the Houston Texans and their porous pass defense but only 55% against the Colts and their poor pass defense.
Inconsistencies aside, Cassel is the best QB on this team and the Chiefs need to stop game planning around him.
Throughout the first half of the season, the Chiefs didn’t need to ask much of Cassel. They were running all over every team they played and all they needed out of Cassel was for him to make a few passes here and there and not screw things up. Those days are over.
The rest of the league has caught up to what the Chiefs are doing. It is now up to the Chiefs coaching staff to change things up. This is how the NFL works. If you fail to adapt, you fail.
The box will be stacked for the Chiefs. I mean really stacked. For the rest of the season. It doesn’t matter how many tricky run plays the Chiefs have drawn up. Their offense is going to stall unless they can make defense pay with the pass.
Enter Matt Cassel.
The Chiefs have to trust Cassel to air it out more. They let him do it a little bit against the Raiders and while he wasn’t spectacular, mostly because of how poor the Chiefs receivers are, he was fairly effective against Oakland’s man to man D. Some of you complained about how many passes Cassel threw in this game but having him throw was the right call based on what the Raiders defense was showing. The reason the Chiefs lost the game wasn’t because Cassel was throwing it was because the Chiefs ran Thomas Jones 19 times into a brick wall.
Jamaal Charles is going to be able to bail himself out of a stacked box here and there but there will be times he will get stuffed and that will stall drives. The Chiefs need to be ready. They need to let Cassel throw and they need to spread the field. It is the only way defense are going to back off and when they do, the Chiefs will be able to mix in the run again. Without the pass, Thomas Jones will be rendered ineffective, which is exactly what happened to the NY Jets last season when they wouldn’t let Mark Sanchez throw.
Cassel may screw up from time to time, he might throw a pick here and there but without the passing game the Chiefs’ season is pretty much over.
Keep in mind the Chiefs won’t have to air it out on everyone. They will likely be able to defeat the Arizona Cardinals this weekend with their usual ground and pound strategy if only because the Cards offense is so bad that the Chiefs defense will likely shut them down. However, when the Chiefs run into a decent NFL QB again, they had better be prepared to throw or they are going to get burned.
To be successful the Chiefs are going to need Dexter McCluster back and they have to get Chris Chambers on the bench. A mix of Bowe, McCluster, Tucker (raw but fast and hungry), Copper (unspectacular but way more reliable than Chambers) and the occasional pass to Charles should be enough to back teams off. Once they can do that, the run will open back up and Tony Moeaki will have an easier time getting open.
For better or for worse, Cassel is the Chiefs’ QB and the second half of this season is the perfect time find out if he is the long term answer.