Sep 30, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Diego Chargers linebacker Takeo Spikes (51) causes a fumble tackling Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE

Matt Cassel Is Bad, But So Are The Rest Of The Chiefs

Through four games, the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs are a failure. They aren’t a slight failure. They aren’t a couple of plays away from being 3-1 instead of 1-3. They are a REALLY bad football team. When a football team struggles, the primary targets of the fans’ wrath are the starting QB, the head coach, and the GM. All three are currently taking justifiable criticism for their performance this season, but starting quarterback Matt Cassel is clearly public enemy number one in Kansas City. At this point, Cassel has very few supporters left. My stance so far this season has been that Cassel may not be a very good quarterback, but this team was supposed to be built to win in spite of that.

Here’s the problem with my previous stance. It relied on three things: The Chiefs being able to control games with their rushing attack; the defense keeping the other team out of the end zone; and Matt Cassel not making huge mistakes that hurt the team. Say what you will about the failures of Cassel’s supporting cast (I’ll get to them in a minute), but Cassel has been a complete failure at protecting the football. In 2010 when KC went to the playoffs, Cassel was responsible for eight total turnovers (seven INTs and one fumble lost) in 15 games played. Thus far in 2012, Cassel has already turned the ball over 10 times in only four games.

You can really trace the turnover problem all the way back to the end of that same 2010 playoff season. In his first 14 games played that season, Cassel only had six total turnovers. That’s only 0.43 turnovers per game. In those 14 games the Chiefs were 10-4. Starting with the final regular season game of 2010 (vs the Raiders) and including the playoff loss to the Ravens, Cassel has turned the ball over 26 times in 15 games. That’s 1.73 turnovers per game. In those 15 games, the Chiefs are 5-10. Is Matt Cassel solely responsible for all 10 of those loses? Of course not, there is plenty of blame to go around. However, since that Raiders game, Matt Cassel has simply turned the ball over too many times and has only been able to win one of every three starts that he has made in the last year and a half. That’s just not good enough.

If you are going to try and win with a quarterback with a limited upside like Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson, that QB simply CANNOT turn the ball over. When they do, the team has to play out of a hole, and that usually means passing the ball and putting more responsibility on the QB that the team wanted to just be a “game manager.” Matt Cassel is doing just that, and it is costing the Chiefs dearly. It’s like NFL quicksand and Matt Cassel keeps stepping in it.

So, as of today, I am no longer going to defend Matt Cassel to anyone. Yes, I still think the rest of the team is putting him in a horrible position, but Cassel deserves the heat he is getting. Do I think Brady Quinn is more talented than Matt Cassel? No, I don’t. I think he lacks the talent to win at the NFL level, too and could possibly be even worse than Cassel. Before you say “Nobody is worse than Cassel!” let’s take a moment to remember the Tyler Palko debacle. However, if Quinn could simply not turn the ball over he would be an upgrade over Cassel and put the Chiefs in a position to win games the way they originally set out to this season, with their run game and defense. That’s assuming that the run game and defense are able to handle their end of the bargain.

Which leads me to my next point.

The rest of the offense around Cassel and the defense deserve just as much criticism as Matt Cassel does. The offensive line was supposed to be a strength on this team. To their credit, they have opened an occasional crease and allowed Jamaal Charles to break a long run. However, I (like many others) expected the line to be good enough to run the ball between the tackles even when the other team is ready for it. That hasn’t been the case. The Chiefs offensive line has simply looked weak at the point of attack all season. Our young guards Asamoah and Allen have both been overpowered so severely at times that they almost tackled the running back themselves. The only time that KC seems to be able to run with much success is when KC is down big and the other team is keying in on harassing Matt Cassel.

The pass protection has been equally disappointing. Cassel has been sacked 13 times in 4 games. That’s 3.25 sacks per game. Last season with Barry Richardson at RT and Casey Wiegmann at C, the Chiefs allowed 2.44 sacks per game in Cassel’s nine starts. So statistically speaking, the offensive line is worse so far this year at protecting the QB. Eric Winston replacing Richardson was supposed to be the biggest upgrade of the offseason and thus far it has been a complete disappointment.

The running backs and wide receivers have had their share of the blame as well. The Chiefs’ playmakers have lost five fumbles (including three against the Chargers) and a couple of Cassel’s interceptions have been caused by WRs or TEs that deflected passes up into the air when they could have made the catch. Basically, the entire offense has been a total failure with the exception of a couple of big plays by Jamaal Charles.

Simply drafting a first round quarterback will not fix all of these issues. Do I want to see a new QB in KC? You bet I do. Would Geno Smith and his 600+ yards passing and eight TDs in one game get me excited if he was wearing red and gold next season? Without question it would. However, if you think simply swapping Cassel for Geno Smith fixes everything, you’re dead wrong. Geno Smith playing with an offense that performs the exact same way that the Chiefs have thus far in 2012 would be equally bad. Yes, Smith might create more plays, but a rookie starting his first NFL season is also likely to make a lot of mistakes, especially if the rest of the team is putting the whole game on his arm as the Chiefs have often done with Cassel this season.

Finally, I can’t leave the defense out of this either. Yes, they have shown flashes in stretches these last two games. Yes, the offense has hung them out to dry on multiple occasions. That having been said, they are allowing 34 points per game and have only created two turnovers. They’ve been flat out bad and are every bit the failure that the offense is. The pass coverage in particular has been embarrassing. Wide receivers and tight ends can simply run across the middle and catch balls all day long. Eric Berry has been exposed as still having major coverage issues and the Chiefs linebackers have been equally horrific in coverage. The defensive line has done a horrible job of creating pressure. Although, Ropati Pitoitua did come through with two sacks on Sunday. For the record, that’s two sacks in one start for KC (2.00 sacks per start) while Dorsey and Jackson have combined for six sacks in 99 starts (0.06 sacks per start). Maybe KC should consider starting Pitoitua in the base defense and use Dorsey as a pass rushing DT in the nickel and dime packages (not that he’s shown much of an ability to excel in that role).

KC simply must find a way to get more out of all of their players or heads should roll. If Crennel can’t fix the defense (his specialty), then he should be fired. If players can’t do a better job, then they should be cut, regardless of their draft slot or contract. The Chiefs need accountability. Say what you will about Todd Haley (he was crazy, messed up the play calling, messed up spring training, he was REALLY crazy, etc.) but at least he held people accountable. At least I didn’t feel like I was more angry about the team’s failures than the head coach was. At least he held every single player accountable, no exceptions. If the players really like Crennel as much as they’ve said, they better start playing for him because so far the “wise old Grandpa Romeo” act isn’t cutting it.

Finally, Clark Hunt should hold Scott Pioli accountable for this mess. If this keeps up much longer Arrowhead will quickly empty and Hunt will start losing money. It’s time for Pioli to stop trying to out-think everyone else in the room and just follow good, old-fashioned, proven-to-work, NFL strategies. If you don’t have a good QB, find one; no matter what the cost. If a player (or coach) isn’t producing, replace him even if it means admitting that you made a mistake in drafting/signing him. Finally, stop trying to draft guys that you think you have figured out are secretly good and pick more guys that are proven playmakers. Look at Justin Houston, he’s not a guy that Pioli would have ever drafted in the first round, but he fell into his lap and now his TALENT is winning out. It seems to me that we could use some more of that kind of talent at QB, ILB, and safety right about now. If Clark Hunt doesn’t think Pioli is capable of making those changes then Clark needs to fire him.

This collection of players, coaches, and management are turning our beloved team into a joke. The Chiefs are dead last in turnover differential. The Chiefs have been outscored by 174 points dating back to the start of the 2011 season. They’ve been outscored 78-29 in the first half this season. They’re the only team that hasn’t drafted a first-round QB in the last 25 years. There are younger fans that literally haven’t seen this team win a playoff game since they started following the team. I’m considered a “homer” by most, but at some point there is only so much that you can take.

KC fans have a right to be upset about how this team is producing. There is plenty of blame to go around. But if it makes you feel better to blame it all on Matt Cassel, fine, I won’t argue with you anymore. He has been bad and I hope the Chiefs are finally willing to admit it and move on. However, making Matt Cassel the lone scapegoat for this team would be a mistake and would take the heat off of the players, coaches, and GM that are also very much to blame.

Here’s to hoping that this team gets held accountable this week and can drastically improve their performance against the Ravens next week. I’m one of those fans that the Chiefs love because no matter how bad they play I’ll still be back next week cheering them on 100 percent. That doesn’t mean my eyes can’t see the problems that are there in front of me. If KC doesn’t get them fixed quick, the Ravens are capable of making things look even worse than the Chargers did. For all of our sakes, let’s hope that I don’t have to write a 2013 draft prospect post next week after only five games.

As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Tags: Kansas City Chiefs Matt Cassel

  • Nick Dowd

    Its unfortunate how true this is…

    • Ivan J Colon

      Hey its simple the defense has holes pioli continuted to ignore de are garbage at pass rushing and belcher is putrid. Dj has to play out his mind to make him look good I mean seriously those holes are screwing the chiefs no inside pass rush if they have that they would be better off. As for the offense Cassel being replaced by geno smith would seriously upgrade the offense being arunner would slow that pass rush and being able to throw deep would keep those 8holes man fronts!

      Seeing what Quinn has over Cassel atleast is something new he ran with the first team offense once in preseason and made plays other than that it was second team bums who were getting owned. Give Quinn a shot atleast he doesn’t stare down his wideouts everytime

  • micah stephenson

    Wow! Best article ive read on here in a while. I might as well have wrote it myself. Yea Im admitting Cassel sucks! But the oline is garbage. The wrs are slow and cant catch consistantly. Defense sucks. Special teams suck. Coaching sucks. GM sucks. And a new QB aint gone fix it! But Cassel is done so besides a new QB they need alot more help than that!

    • tm1946

      Maybe Cassel can help the Chiefs. if he continues to play poorly, the Chiefs maybe forced to make changes as opposed to telling us how good it is going to be “some day”.

    • Dfrey87

      The problem with this team is the gm coach and qb. Pro scouts and experts say this team has just as much talent as any team but we dont have a qb. Before u go throwing stats at me about how everyone is playing think about this all of our really good players are not playing well at all it all across the board. The problem is they do not believe in the leaders of this team they have no faith and we can see they all play like it. This team has lost faith in cassel long ago and obviously lost faith in rac this offseason preseason and first four games they dont have faith that either of them can get them anywhere. It obvious all of our players dont just lose all of there talent overnight but the do lose faith in there leaders. I will put money on it if u replace cassel with an honestly talented qb and a replace the coach with a proven coach that motivates the team u are looking at a 3-1 record. Dont underestimate the power of not believing in ur leadership

      • tm1946

        maybe true but there is no QB or HC out there. That means a whole lot of losses between not and 2013.

        • DoubleD

          All true (I’m assuming Cowher can be coaxed out of the studio). This isn’t the only problem, but a big one for me that is that Pioli has made a string of bad calls on personnel. Here’s a short list (I could name more) – Cassel, Gailey, Haley, Gonzalez, Carr, Jackson, Baldwin, Waters, Pollard, Berry (unusually high pick for a safety), Manning (didn’t even bother responding to Pioli’s out-of-the-gate interest), Jeff Fisher (if Pioli couldn’t stand Haley, why did he hesitate to make the change when given the perfect opportunity? Answer – he was too afraid of what people might think!)

          • DoubleD

            Make that – I’m assumming Cowher can not be coaxed out of the studio.

          • tm1946

            I just see no fear from Pioli. He is silent, not to bright, has no clue about talent evaluation or acquisition but no fear. His relationship with Hunt seem, from an outsider, solid. Why, because you see no change in what he does. Remember the new conference where he said he needed to do a better job….he got Quinn for competition for Cassel or Stanzi. He just does not fear for his job.

      • micah stephenson

        Cassel sucks. Yea ok. But i still think a better QB aint gon b as good as he cud be with this roster. Mainly no pass protection and speed at wrs.

  • Cerebral assassin

    What do you think the chances of a meteor hitting the Hunt compound during their next family reunion? New ownership would be nice.

    • spencer

      or how bout you just slit your throat?…………….why the hell do you attack the Hunt family? because they are rich?? because you are poor? because they can spend the money and do??? could the spend more??? yes??? should they???? no….we need money for future contracts………..

      but good article, but seiously idk about the blame on the defense, its hard to defend against 22 offensive players every play….they have to fight our own offense….

      look at the stats when the chiefs defense has to defend 40 yrds in less-due to turnovers-and when they have a full field to defend

      • KC-sports-fan22

        Clark has spent close to the lowest amount of money in the league the last few seasons… my tickets were 265 a piece yesterday, so yes I agree clark hunt doesn’t spend enough money and lives off of a fan base that is too loyal to care. That said Pioli’s roster has come apart this year, still a lack of depth and the free agents weren’t anything close to what we’ve hoped. Stanford routt continues to get burned Winston hasn’t been great, and Hillis has been non existent. Meanwhile Jon Baldwin hasn’t done much, and our defensive line which includs 3 first round picks, 2 with Pioli in town still struggles to get pressure on the qb. On Cassel, he struggles but his O line has struggles, and the wr are really bad. Look Cassel has one good reciever in Bowe, and he gets the ball to him consistently, he threw 3 picks yesterday, but again 2 went off of recievers hands. The team is a mess no discipline and they came out flat. A PROFFESIONAL team came out flat, that’s unacceptable, I would challenge Derrick Johnson to become more of a leader, I think he’s our best player, and could excel. I know Carr was asking for a lot, but we are getting out of 2 huge contracs this year (Dorsey and Jackson). Now we spent money on Routt and we’ll probably have to spend more to replace him with a draft pick. Berry is a fan favorite and I liked you pointing out he just isn’t that good against the past, unless he improves he will always be a bad safety.

      • Chiefswatch

        Umm……insane much?

  • Shannon Thompson

    It would be great to see alittle passion, players getting pissed on the sidelines, Cassel bitching out a WR for dropping a perfect pass, a WR doing the same to Cassel for putting the ball on his back shoulder rather than in a more catchable position. This team has no passion! Production on this team (how I see it) is Justin Houston is producing, then Jamal Charles (probably the most passion I have seen, he atleast is holding himself accountable for some of the problems) then no one else. At this point, unless they can land a good quality, qualified HC, I don’t see any reason to make a change till the season is through. But either way they need to make it known that they understand that Cassel is no more than a good/decent backup and Romeo is no more than a DC, neither is more than that. They need a coach that has enough fire in him to light one under their asses if they need it, they need a QB who will point it out when his target didn’t do his job. They need accountability, they need to be vocal in the huddle. Right now while they might be playing catchup, I don’t see anyone showing that they care, its almost as if the mentality is, “Oh they are getting a lead, that’ll make for some easier plays later in the game, we’ll atleast be able to pad the stats or the score to make it look like it isn’t as bad as it actually is.”
    Oh the life of a Chiefs fan, we see teams around us make suddle changes and go from bad to mediocre, mediocre to average, average to good, or good to great, but hardly ever backwards, oh no, backwards is for one franchise, named Chiefs. Why can’t anything ever pan out the way it is supposed to for us? I am tired of being upset about this team, life is to short and life is to busy with other real life problems. However I can’t bring myself to let go of that hope, or team. I keep holding out for the hope that they will turn the corner, show some consistancey, live up to their potential. Their ceiling is as high or higher than any other team, but they won’t ever reach it without passion and accountability, Crennel isn’t one to do it, and it seems Pioli doesn’t care, and Hunt is clueless. I am not even sure if “Show me something” is appropriate anymore, I don’t want to see a glimpse, or glimmer, I want to see passion, heart, I want to at least lose with pride, by 1, 3 or 7, in a well fought battle. That isn’t happening, and I don’t see it happening anytime soon, not with the personnell we have right now. I am speechless and emotionless as to what to really say/feel about this team right now. . . . . . .

  • tm1946

    The only answer this year is to find a Marty or Kstate HC and I am betting you could win with this roster. Not going to happen, those guys are not available sitting at home or on a tv set.
    In the final analysis, this team is defective in concept as well as action. We can blame who we want, it is not working. Therefore, guess what, a new rebuilding starts in 2013. For me, hopefully without Pioli.
    PS, Spencer it is ok to roast Hunt. His family has made well beyond a fortune from KC and the NFL, and did what? got a trophy named for themselves. Besides if you think it matters to them a bit…..look at the 2012 season.

    • Dan Rice

      The Chiefs have at least on paper not shown lately one of the best rosters right and theoretically any QB that is decent should have a career year we have ALBERT WINSTON LILJA and ASMOAH along with JC, PH, DBowe, Dex MC, BOSS, MOEAKE, and rest on OFFENSE very servicable as in SBRESTON, 1ST RND PICK JBALDWIN and more EAUCHUS stepping up DRAUGHN not bad (other than fumble) GRAY… WHAT IS WRONG ??
      MATT CASSEL IS NOT A QB and has PROVED it for years here in KC…….PERIOD…….. TIME TO EITHER GIVE QUINN the helm or trade for another teams backup ANY QB OTHER THAN MATT CASSEL should have a career year with this group
      Cannot qb a college team (Have to ADMIT 1st game against ATL did hang in with Ryan and Falcons (which has beaten all AFC WEST) for a Quarter in a half but then NOTHING BUT GARBAGE STATS

  • ArrowFan

    It’s a good thing I sat this one out for fear of what was going to happen and it was just impossible to catch the game this week. Come to think of it I may just find a reason to miss the next game as well. I did catch like the last 10 min of the game can anyone tell my why DJ wasn’t playing?

    • tm1946

      How about you dislike watching close friends bleed all over the place?
      In the NFL, when a team is down, you try to keep them down. Well not much good happening with the Chiefs so far this year.

      • ArrowFan

        If my thumb is stuck in a door way and the door keeps slamming shut on my thumb I have a habit of remove it. For sake of my marriage and kids I can no longer watch what is on the field.

  • ArrowFan

    I think we have the DL for a 4-3 but do we have the LBs?

    • tm1946

      Crennel does not play the 4-3.

      • DoubleD

        tm, are you saying that Crennel does not know how to play the 43 or that he just to stubborn to do so?

        • tm1946

          Neither, he was more successful in the 3-4. In that case you tend to stay with what made you successful. Also he does play a 2-6 and a 4-3 in sub packages. But his base is the 3-4, even if the players are not suited to do so.

      • ArrowFan

        I know I’m just saying that we probably don’t have the personnel to fire him and hire a 4-3 guy.

    • Lyle Graversen

      I don’t get that take. Other than Dorsey, who do we have that you think would be better in a 4-3? DJ and Hali have been better in the 3-4 and Jackson and Pitoitua are prototype 3-4 DEs.

      • ArrowFan

        I’m just saying that the Fire Romeo Idea could hurt us more than help us. If anyone gets fired I say it should be @#$%^$^%$.

  • Jim Harper

    Finally!!!!! Someone has the guts to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I have always been pretty like minded with Lyle and this just reinforced that feeling. I am also a life long fan of 50+ years and have always tried to be supportive, but as you have so deftly pointed out, this team has multiple issues. I do agree that Cassel tops the list. So much of his poor play creates a cause & effect that snowballs into one disaster after another. Some of it we don’t even see. It can be as simple as calling an audible and putting us into a worse play or misreading protections. I love Romeo, but I think maybe he should be a DC only. Bring in a Cowher or Gruden and get this team turned around. The Chiefs are not void of talent. They are just being misused. Cassel is nothing but a quality back up. They need to move heaven and earth to draft a franchise QB. No longer does it take years to develop QB’s. One only has to look around the league at the success of QB’s in their first & second years. Great read Lyle! Let’s hope someone is listening!

  • Chiefswatch

    Terrific article showing the systemic problem of the Chiefs. 2010 was a sham through and through and we were stupid to ever think that was legit. This team is a train wreck.

  • jimfromkc

    I have been saying from the git go that I don’t like the Patriots or anything about them. The Patriots stumbled into getting Brady, IOf they really had any idea of how good he could be he would have been drafted in the first round, not the sixth. So don’t let Pioli’s only claim to fame fool you. If you look at who he drafted and who he could have drafted, you will see the clown that I do. Send him packing. None of the other ideas floated here would make 10 cents worth of difference if they keep him in charge.

  • jimfromkc

    One of the ideas that I have mulled is possibly working out a deal with the Redskins. Maybe Cassel and a draft pick or two for Cousins. He ain’t got the arm that I would like, but he is a player who would be better than Cassel. How much better remains to be seen. I had him rated ahead of Dalton and Tanneyhill in my thoughts before the draft last year.

  • PaU

    Matt Cassell appears to be playing to not get hurt, cowaring to any and all contact. The toughest player of the team should be the qb and clearly Cassell lacks toughness. Cassell is steering down his intended target from the snap, its no wonder he has 7 picks. The qb should have a linebackers mentality, tough as nails.