Romeo Crennel and Scott Pioli were making the media rounds yesterday and they seemed intent on making one point abundantly clear:
A QB competition is coming.
Just what kind of QB competition, remains to be seen.
“What happens in free agency remains to be seen,” Crennel said. “I know competition makes everybody better, and we’ll just have to see what kind of competition we’re going to have at the quarterback position.”
This is a fair statement for Crennel to make. While KC fans might want more detail, it would be foolish for Crennel to take things any father. Even if Scott Pioli and Crennel are intent on replacing Matt Cassel as the team’s stating QB, declaring so publicly before that replacement is even on the team would be foolhardy. In free agency and the draft there are no guarantees, so in case the Chiefs do need Matt Cassel to be the starter next season, they had best not burn their bridges now.
Crennel wasn’t the only person stressing competition yesterday. GM Scott Pioli also got in on the action.
“We’ve been saying it for three years, and I’m going to continue to say it, because it’s a core part of our philosophy: There will be increased competition at every position, including the quarterback position,” Pioli said. “Who that is, I don’t know. Maybe it’s Kyle (Orton), maybe it’s another free agent, maybe it’s a draft choice, I don’t know.
“Very few people can perform at an extremely high level without competition.”
While Pioli’s words sound encouraging, I’m going to fly my nerd flag and quote a common phrase often uttered by the characters in George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones.
Words are wind.
Pioli stating that there will be increased competition at QB while, in the same breath, saying that increasing competition at all positions has been the team’s philosophy for the last three years isn’t very inspiring.
Nothing Pioli has done since he brought Matt Cassel to Kansas City has shown me that he wanted to increase the competition at the QB position. Quite the opposite, actually.
You may remember that when Cassel arrived, there were a sizable amount of Chiefs fans who wanted one Tyler Thigpen to get a realistic shot at the starting gig. Thigpen was allowed to stick around for a while but it was clear he never had a realistic chance to unseat Cassel. Then, once the 2009 season got off to a rocky start, Thigpen was quickly traded away to the Miami Dolphins, ending any chance that the natives would get restless if the team continued to struggle, which it did.
In 2010, the Chiefs rolled into the season with Brodie Croyle and Tyler Palko. Hardly stiff competition for Cassel.
To his credit, in 2011 Pioli dumped the ineffective Croyle and drafted QB Ricky Stanzi in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. Yet at the same time, Tyler Palko was the only other QB on the roster. Pioli’s failure to have a veteran backup on the roster likely cost the Chiefs their second straight AFC West title. I liked the Stanzi move, but Tyler Palko isn’t increasing the QB competition on any roster.
Hopefully 2011 taught Pioli a lot. It should have taught him that he needs, at the very least, a veteran safety net at the QB position. Cassel’s performances against the Dolphins and Broncos before his injury should have left a bad taste in Pioli’s mouth and Kyle Orton’s play against the Green Bay Packers should have alerted him to the idea that his team may have more talent than Matt Cassel can adequately support.
If the last three years were an example of the QB competition we’re going to get in 2012, color me unimpressed.
But if Pioli and Crennel are really serious about ratcheting up the QB position in KC, then we could be in for one of the most intriguing and exciting Chiefs’ offseasons in recent memory.