Oct 23, 2011; Oakland, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel (7) hands off the ball to running back Dexter McCluster (22) during the second quarter against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

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“This was a week last year where Ricky Stanzi had a tough week and a lot of people were very critical of Ricky,” Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli recalled. “Ricky’s season had ended and he had done some work with (Tom Martinez). He was in the process of changing his mechanics and it wasn’t the best week for him.

“But spending time with Ricky, when you could actually follow-up and get to know him more, that time spent is really helpful down here.”

The 10-7 setback cast Kansas City into a dark place.

Fortunately, it was a pre-Twitter place where the only doom to be found was on the talk-radio circuits. Oh, there was that post-game scene in the Chiefs’ locker room, where Elliott answered every question in stand-up fashion as his teammates turned on him.

They told him to pack everything he needed that day because he wouldn’t be back. They threw out every threat you could imagine and made his most anguishing hour as a professional placekicker exponentially worse.

I always felt sorry for Elliott, who handled it all with such class and grace.

Assuming the Colts do not exercise that option and Manning becomes a free agent, this is general manager Scott Pioli’s chance to make a upgrade of galactic proportions at quarterback.

We’ve been over this ground before, but however much Pioli wishes that Matt Cassel – the protégé he brought along from New England – might develop into one of the league’s elite quarterbacks, that’s just not going to happen.

The Chiefs need a star in the sport’s most important position.