Aug 26, 2011; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Ricky Stanzi (13) throws a pass against the St Louis Rams in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Rams won the game 14-10. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE

What’s With All the Excitement for Ricky Stanzi?

Contrary to how the above post title appears, I do like Ricky Stanzi. Who couldn’t? He’s an America-loving (by the way, watch this video if you haven’t already), long-hair growing, mid-west guy that you can’t help but root for. But rooting for and being excited about are two different things.

For some reason, Ricky Stanzi getting snaps with the second team during the Chiefs-Rams preseason game is cause for celebration; as if the depth chart was the only thing standing in the way of the Chiefs’ 2011 fifth round pick from stardom and that playing with the second stringers on Saturday is the next step to his all-but-certain takeover of the ‘Stanzi City Chiefs.’

Maybe it is. After all, we haven’t been able to see much of Stanzi play, and nothing outside of a few passes in meaningless preseason games. For lack of significant evidence, it’s hard to say how good or how bad Stanzi would be as an NFL starter, either right now or in the future. What we can do is look at some college stats and read a few words from somebody much smarter than myself.

It can’t be denied Stanzi improved during his three years as a starting quarterback with the Iowa Hawkeyes. In 2008, he went 150/254 (59.1%) for 1,956 yards, 14 TDs and 9 INTs. In 2009, 171/304 (56.3%), 2,417 yards, 17 TDs, 15 INTs. In his senior campaign of 2010, he capped of graduation with an impressive 221/345 (64.1%), for 3,004 yards, 25 TDs and 6 INTs. While the total numbers aren’t as impressive as higher drafted quarterbacks, you have to like how it seemed he ‘got it’ the longer he was with the team.

In the book, War Room, Jim Nagy, a national scout for the Chiefs, is quoted as saying: “If I could pick a quarterback who we’ll all look back in five years and say, ‘Can you believe he lasted that long?’ it would be Ricky Stanzi of Iowa.

“No one is talking about him as a high draft pick. He was the most improved player I saw all year. There’s something about the guy. And I’ll tell you something else: When I was watching tape [at the Senior Bowl] of practice, he was there, too. Watching Senior Bowl practice tape on his own.”

Seeing the stats and reading those words, I can understand why people would get a little bit excited about the notion of watching Stanzi operate with the second group. But all those stats and all those praises pre-date his NFL career; and I’ll be honest, I haven’t garnered any excitement watching Stanzi in his limited exposure over the last two preseasons (by the way, Stanzi’s numbers in all preseason games combined are 20/41 (49%) for 255 yards, 1TD, 1 INT and 9 sacks).

I know what you are going to say: “knee-jerk reaction”, “not enough opportunities”, “small sample size”, “developmental player”, “you’re an idiot”, “come up to Iowa and I’ll give you something not to be excited about.” And I’ll admit, those are all fair (except the last one). There is just simply not a big enough body of work to really think anything of Stanzi. This, however, is not a good sign.

Remember last season, after Matt Cassel got hurt, when the Chiefs started that Calabaloo, Falko, Tyler Palko guy. During that time which can only be described as [insert joke of ineptude here], the Chiefs went 1-3, helped by Palko’s 796 yards, 2 TDs and 7 INTs. Before being replaced by Kyle Orton with three games left on the season, Chiefs fans far and wide were screaming for Ricky Stanzi. Why not start the rookie to get him some experience, it couldn’t be worse than the travesty fans were forced to watch over the course of a month.

But I’m not one of those fans that think former head coach Todd Haley was bat $#!+ crazy, nor am I going to consider the conspiracy theory that he was trying to get fired by playing Palko. I honestly believe Haley was playing the guy he felt gave them the best chance to win. And while we can argue all day about how ready Orton was after arriving from Denver or how odd it was to just bring Orton in for a single, dislocated-finger-resulting pass in Chicago, the fact still remains that both those options were implemented before Stanzi was considered.

While many think of this as an indictment towards Haley, what always came to my mind was: “how bad must Stanzi look in practice?” I think it was clear last season Stanzi wasn’t ready, and not even in Haley’s last game as head coach did he see the field, although it was at least considered.

Stanzi is, like most fifth round picks, a work in progress. That’s not a bad thing. Some first round picks are works in progress, such as Jake Locker spending a year behind Matt Hasselbeck in Tennessee. The talent can be there, and once Matt Cassel’s time in KC is done, Stanzi could be the guy having learned the NFL at a pace that doesn’t overwhelm him. For all I, or anyone else, knows, Stanzi could be the next Tom Brady.

Or he could be the next fifth round pick that never made an impact in the NFL.

Either way, I doubt the Chiefs expect to find out this year. So is he really worth getting excited about?

Ask me again in 2013.

  • Tarkus

    The problem with your theory, that Haley wasn’t bat $#!+ crazy, and Stanzi must have looked terrible in practice, is that the first thing RAC did when he became interim head coach was to promote Stanzi to 2nd string, and said he’d start against the Packers if Orton’s finger wasn’t good to go. Obviously he saw something Haley didn’t, or Haley was indeed bat $#!+ crazy.

    And before you say RAC was just doing it for the fan base, remember that he was on a three game audition for the job. He wasn’t going to make such an important decision that could affect his future, just in order to please the fans. He obviously thought Stanzi gave them a better chance to win than Haley’s Western Pennsylvania boy.

    • KCMikeG

      Dead on Tarkus. Plus Pioli drafted Stanzi from his buddy Ferentz while Haley brought Palko in from Pitt. Haley wasn’t trying to get fired he was making a power play vs Pioli telling him his boy was go to start while Stanzi sat on the bench. Plus he was bat$#!+crazy! Stanzi will be our QB after Cassel.

      • Chiefswatch

        Haley always had too much faith in his “own”people like that shitty slot receiver urban. I guess he felt he could just will talent into them.

      • Jim Harper

        Correct Mike! I was all for Haley when he was hired. He was the new young gun from the amazing Cardinals. What all of us failed to realize was that he rode on the back of Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald who made him look like a genius. But there has always been a fine line between genius and lunatic. We guessed wrong!

  • Big Lee

    I no longer believe in conspiracy concering the JFK assassination, because things like to seat location for Conally no loger mean you have to have a magic bullet. And you can fire that rifle that quickly to get off 3 shots. And the first shot may have been fired earlier and hit a traffic light. Anyhow. . . .
    Someone needs to prove to me that Haley did not want out of KC when you start Palko FOUR TIMES. He saw the QBs in practice every day, so you must give him the benefit of the doubt. But after 2 or 3 games was it not transparent that Palko did not have the skills? Even Herm continued to evaluate talent until the end, which no doubt helped Haley in his first year. Haley owed it to the team to see what they had in Stanzi. Chiefs woiuld have learned far more playing him last year (in a less developed state) than they will playing him in the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th quarter of a preseason game. And Cassel needs to get all the reps he needs to get ready.

    • obama bin change

      haha. hopefully you dont think 911 was really terrorists. everyone knows a country gets more money for having terrorists attacks. yes america sets its own people up to die, pretty cool.

      • big chief

        1. Wrong forum. 2. Give me a break!

  • Chiefswatch

    Can’t say i have seen a more wrong post on AA. People are excited because we finally get to see stanzi for what looks like a good deal of time. They are excited because he gets to throw to second stringers instead of the the guys that are going to get cut. Excited because of the possibility we have something in our roster that’s not from the trash heap of other teams. Nobody is saying he is coming in and taking cassel’s job, but they do want him to unseat Quinn. I am excited i don’t have to watch Quinn’s inaccuracy for to too long tonight. And you are dead wrong about Haley. He was a shit evaluator of talent and insane, so either way he was wrong to start Palko so long. ….. only a complete idiot would believe Palko was better than anyone after Palko’s first two starts.

  • triza

    enh, i dont think so at all, i think you jsut kinda rambled a bunhc of psychobable. Stanzi is either the answer or not, no inbetween no shadsees of grey, not breaking it down in detail, it is what it is. if he is he is, very very simple

    • dongtogolo

      … and as long as he holds the football too long, he’s a never gonna be.

  • Calchiefsfan

    It was apparent that Haley played favorites with those players that kissed his butt. I have to think that’s why Palko got the nod. But after 2 games it was crystal clear that Palko couldn’t cut it. Why not Stanzi at that point, Orton was still injured.
    The reason I want to see Stanzi is simply I don’t know anything about him. I’ve heard everything from he’s the next coming of Tom Brady to he’s just a 5th round pick with no chance of making it in the NFL. So let’s find out. Put him in there with some talent and let’s see how he does for the next few preseason games. Quinn has had 6 years, let’s see what the kid can do.

  • Chiefswatch

    Excitement for nothing I guess. Stanzi is garbage

  • big chief

    After two preseason games all the people last year and in the offseason screaming to put Stanzi in look pretty silly now. He was average in an average conference in College and is WAY below average in the NFL. Maybe we can stop hearing that nonsense now.

  • cant win

    Let break down the Rams game. Coaching first. Its the same stupid freaking offensive play book Idiots. Our coaches suck so freaking bad. We wasted valuable money on them. Our high powered offensive line couldn’t beat a high school team. Our running backs can’t block. Defense don’t stand a chance. Special teams atrocious. The high dollar chiefs just got destroyed my the saint louis rams. The same rams team that got beat last week 33 to freaking 3 or something like that. They are hideous. I think I may be done watching for the year. Preseason are not there was nothing good at all about the chiefs. Everything I defended before I take back. Paolo is now an idiot for hiring these people. I will not defend the chiefs ever again.

  • ArrowFan

    He looked lost to night but then again the whole team looked out of sorts. One things for sure Hanney is not going to get a shot.

  • fakejoos

    Am I the only one that thinks Quinn looks like a halfway decent backup? He looked a lot more poised and accurate than I’ve ever seen Stanzi with the 3rd stringers. You can definitely tell that he has more experience as a NFL QB.