Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Matt Cassel is having a great season. For those of us that consider ourselves die hard Chiefs fans this is a common topic of conversation. It started out as a debate on if he should even be the QB or not and has shifted into a discussion on just how good he is. However, that conversation is currently restricted to those that follow the Chiefs. With the national media, Cassel (along with the KC offense in general) is flying under the radar.
Monday morning on ESPN and national sports talk radio the conversation centered on three NFL QBs. The first two were Phillip Rivers and Peyton Manning and how the Chargers dismantled the Colts. The third was Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and how “Matty Ice” is unstoppable at home and is leading the Falcon’s towards home field advantage in the NFC. Now I’m not saying that those QBs don’t deserve the headlines, I’m just pointing out that Matt Cassel wasn’t a hot topic nation wide even after throwing 4 TDs on Sunday.
When Cassel does get an occasional mention in the national media it is usually something like “Matt Cassel is doing a nice job of doing what the Chiefs ask of him.” Or “Matt Cassel does a nice job of protecting the football.” And lately “Matt Cassel is doing a nice job of getting the ball to Dwayne Bowe.” In interviews he doesn’t give the media any great sound bites to work with. He usually just repeats head coach Todd Haley’s “coach speak”. I guess you could say he comes off as a nice guy but he’s not likely to say anything that makes Sports Center.
If someone’s only knowledge of Matt Cassel was what the national media provided they would probably have no idea that his numbers are a lot better then “nice”. I already did a post calling for Chiefs fans to get on the Matt Cassel Bandwagon, now it’s time for any stragglers to get on board (including the national media) and give “Matty Nice” his due.
More after the jump.
To the average NFL fan there is little to talk about when it comes to the Chiefs’ offense outside of Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe, and Bowe is a recent addition to that list. Even with the attention those two have received I bet no one outside of Kansas City (probably even some of you) has the slightest clue that the Chiefs have the #6 offense in yards per game (375.2) and the #4 offense in points per game (25.9). That’s right; the Kansas City Chiefs are averaging more points per game then teams like the Colts, Saints, Packers, and Matty Ice’s Falcons. Most knowledgeable fans know that the KC rushing attack is good, but the offense as a whole is getting very little credit and nobody is being overlooked more then our Matty Nice.
Anyone looking to justify Cassel’s exclusion from the discussion of QBs who are having a great season point out his pedestrian completion percentage (60.4%) and low yardage totals (209.7 YPG). However, his QB rating of 99.7 puts him behind only Michael Vick, Tom Brady, and Phillip Rivers. His 22 TD passes are tied for 5th in the NFL and are only one off the four players tied for first with 23. His 4 interceptions are matched only by future Hall of Famer Tom Brady. Even his yards per attempt (7.1) is ahead of some big names like Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, and (you guessed it) Matty Ice.
The Matt Cassel bandwagon started out as an old flatbed trailer with a few lawn chairs on it being pulled by a beat up old Chevy pick up. Now it consists of a small fleet of spacious RVs. We have gained a lot of new members in the recent weeks but there is still room for the rest of you who are holding out.
Those holding out are probably still clinging to the notion that only QBs that complete 70% of their passes and throw for a zillion yards can lead their teams to a Super Bowl win. Let me officially debunk that myth by looking at the 2008 Steelers and 2007 New York Giants and their QB play during their Super Bowl winning seasons.
In 2008 Ben Roethlisberger won his second Super Bowl by leading the Steelers to a win over the Arizona Cardinals. Big Ben’s first Super Bowl win against the Seattle Seahawks was seen as a “gift” because Ben didn’t play well. However, in 2008 he “earned” it with his good play. So here are his numbers in both the regular season and post season that year.
59.9% completion percentage
17 TDs 15 Ints
80.1 QB rating
60.7% completion percentage
3 TDs 1 Int
91.6 QB rating
I should probably note that the Steelers defense was number one in yards and points allowed. Their rushing attack was nothing special at 23rd in the league with 105.6 yards per game.
Now let’s look at the 2007 Giants and how Eli Manning played that season and in the playoffs.
56.1% completion percentage
23 TDs 20 Ints
73.9 QB rating
60.5% completion percentage
6 TDs 1 Int
95.7 QB rating
That season the Giants’ defense was 7th in the league in yards allowed and 17th in PPG. Their rushing attack finished 4th with 134.2 yards per game.
So if you go strictly off statistics our offense is Super Bowl caliber when compared to these two recent winners. It would be the defense that is behind (especially compared to the Steelers). Now don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying Matt Cassel is one of the elite QBs in the league and we should all start saving up money for Super Bowl tickets. I’m saying that the mental bar we have set for what a Super Bowl winning QB is might be set too high. We tend to just think of Peyton Manning or Drew Brees racking up monster yards and carrying their teams on their backs. We think to ourselves “the days of the Trent Dilfer’s of the world winning the Super Bowl are past” when the fact is that you only have to look back a season or two to find QBs with average stats that won it all. Now to their credit, both Ben and Eli made big plays against big time defenses on the biggest stage. Matt Cassel has never even played in a playoff game. Obviously he still has a LOT to prove. He could come out the next two weeks and crash and burn. The Bandwagon could go back to the flatbed pulled by the old Chevy. No one knows for sure, but if the improvement we’ve seen lately is for real and the passing game really is coming along (and they haven’t even got Dexter McCluster back yet) then the NFL and national media better get on board with the fact that the Chiefs offense is a power to be reckoned with and Matty Nice deserves a lot more praise then simply being called a “nice” QB.
Thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!
Postscript: I am secretly hoping that the name Matty Nice catches on and I can take credit for creating it.
Postscript to the Postscript: If anyone is going to the game this weekend and would like to get me an early Christmas present, I would love to see a Matty Nice sign in the crowd.