Oh my god.
That’s all I could say all Sunday afternoon. Well, and this:
We’ve all been Chiefs fans a long time, folks. We’ve sat through some exhilirating wins. Some of us who are Generation X or older actually remember a playoff win. But it may be something like a decade since the Kansas City Chiefs have had a win this satisfying, upending the perfect season of the Green Bay Packers and leaving them sucking linberg in Arrowhead.
All phases were clicking. The pass rush was relentless. Our corners made everyone but Jermichael Finley invisible. The play calls on both ends were unpredictable and magnificent. Succop couldn’t miss.
And most of all, we had a quarterback. Broncos castoff Kyle Orton was acquired for essentially three end-of-year games for the hefty pricetag of $2 million. But at this point, showing Chiefs fans what it’s like to have a QB who can read a defenses, make multiple choices in a given play, throw the ball away when needed to, and project alpha male confidence is worth its weight in gold.
I never want to go back. I don’t want to ever have the Chiefs ever play another game in non-emergency situations with a QB under center who doesn’t know what he’s doing. No NFL team should, and after a string of Damon Huard, Brodie Croyle, Tyler Thigpen, Tyler Palko, and yes, Matt Cassel, it’s time the Chiefs put this era behind them and embrace an entirely different philosophy regarding the QB position. One I’ve been advocating for years on this blog.
For the past three years, we’ve endured franchise QB Matt Cassel, a passionate competitor who does stellar work in the community who nevertheless doesn’t have the “it.”
Let’s go over the usual list, and I’ll make this brief since we’ve had this discussion a million times: Cassel cannot make multiple reads unless it’s a mandated, quick two-read that a play is asking for. If someone is surprisingly wide open who isn’t his first or second read, there’s virtually no chance Cassel locates him. His arm strength is actually just fine (Cassel haters drastically underrate his ability to sling a deep ball), but his accuracy is every bit as horrible as the haters suggest.
He can’t make in-play decisions at the drop of a hat. He takes costly sacks, as well as the accompanying sack yardage, instead of throwing the ball away. He has good size and is plenty athletic, but that doesn’t translate to him being remotely elusive in the pocket. His audibles are nonexistant, and not very successful when they are. This all translates to absolutely terrible performances when the run game isn’t working. Cassel has never had a good game as a Chief when there wasn’t a runner beating up the opposing defense.
Worse yet, he surrenders to anything remotely close to tight coverage. He doesn’t throw many interceptions, and often holds onto the ball too long, because he largely refuses to fit the ball in tight places. If you’re at least in the vicinity of the Cassel’s wide receivers, he’s not throwing to them. He’ll forfeit that play to you every time, and it puts immense pressure on the rest of the offense to produce.
His enthusiasm or frustration have little to no effect on his teammates. He celebrates with them, but rarely if ever chews them out when they are not doing their piece. He is a classic beta male, which can serve your team just fine if it’s in a deoderizing win streak, but is incapable of rescuing the team when it starts to reel.
The difference between him (as well as Huard and all the others since 2005′s Trent Green) and what we saw out of Kyle Orton was night and day. And Orton’s a middle-of-the-pack QB; he isn’t all that accurate either, and is prone to making poor decisions especially in the red zone.
But his competency was and is striking against the Packers. And now the entire franchise is talking about how amazing he looked (he looked competent, not amazing), and now all of these weapons on offense, from Baldwin to Breaston to Bowe to McClain to McCluster… this offense becomes relatively intimidating to go up against.
To me, the choice is simple. I have more fun watching a competent quarterback, or at least a very young (NOT Matt Cassel’s 29), legitimately promising quarterback (NOT Tyler Palko or Thigpen) who is developing before my eyes, than in watching an awful quarterback who stymies the offense.
From here on out, that should be the sole focus of our 2012 offseason. I don’t even care what GM Scott Pioli wants to do or what he is likely to do. It is in the best interest of this team to invest heavily in the QB position, so we never have to endure consistently pathetic QB play ever again.
1. Find a way to trade up and acquire a franchise QB in this draft. I don’t care what it takes. Andrew Luck is probably out of consideration, but Robert Griffin or Matt Barkley present legit franchise QBs of the future. This must happen.
2. If it doesn’t happen, splurge on Peyton Manning if/when he hits the market and still wants to play. Give him a Joe Montana deal. Three years, $60 million. This team is too talented to wallow in Cassel or even in Orton mode. Let’s see what this jalopy can do with an amazing QB under center.
3. If neither #1 or #2 happen, you must cut Matt Cassel, and sign Kyle Orton to a three-year stopgap deal that allows us to be flexible in the near future.
4. Whatever happens, we must make a significant effort to bring in a very good backup QB. A veteran castoff like Sage Rosenfels maybe. Or a promising youth who has so far struggled, like Brady Quinn, or Jimmy Clausen. Make them compete with Ricky Stanzi. It’s not enough to get good at the QB position, we must get deep.
It’s time to grow up as a franchise. For too long we’ve relegated our QBs to being just good enough to get by. It’s dumbed the team’s prospects down, occasionally made them boring to watch, and puts far too much pressure on everybody else in the organization.
This past weekend showed us how much fun football can be, and that’s intrinsically tied to the quarterback position. There is absolutely no reason not to follow wherever that feeling takes us.