Dec 24, 2011; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli reacts during the game against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Chiefs 16-13 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Scott Pioli: The Cowardly Lion

For shame, Mr. Pioli.

I think I get it now. You don’t have an issue with responsibility. You’re just willing to shrink into the shadows while fans of the Kansas City Chiefs shoulder that responsibility.

A number of fans cheered on Sunday when a concussed Matt Cassel came out of the game. That’s a lamentable moment for Chiefs fans. Football is just a game. No one should ever cheer a player (check that: human being) being injured. That’s flat out despicable. There is no excuse for that kind of behavior from a community of fans who are known for unwavering support of this franchise. But therein lies the problem. Kansas City has had Cassel forced down its throat. Cassel is just a guy. The kind of guy who an NFL front office should never stand behind for so long, but that’s precisely what Pioli has done. Fans are frustrated and for a moment on Sunday, with Cassel lying motionless on the field, they couldn’t see a human being on the ground. They could only see liberation from the quarterback who has held this offense (and the team) back for three years.

Right Tackle Eric Winston weighed in on the controversy in a post-game interview:

When you cheer somebody getting knocked out, I don’t care who it is, and it just so happened to be Matt Cassel — it’s sickening. It’s 100 percent sickening. I’ve been in some rough times on some rough teams, I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life to play football than in that moment right there.

Those comments went viral and became a national headline. Fans are now the ostensible culprit in Kansas City. This is a convenient distraction for a 1-4 football team. The national media will spend the next several days not talking about what created that admittedly disgraceful moment: Pioli’s failure to admit his mistake with Matt Cassel is the real problem.

We can’t blame Matt Cassel. For what it’s worth, he’s done everything he’s been asked to do. He has the desire and work ethic needed to play well. He just doesn’t have the God-given ability. We can’t blame Romeo Crennel. He’s only following Pioli’s marching orders. Cassel’s not his guy, but he doesn’t have a say in the matter. The best he can do is try to hide him. That’s basically what happened on Sunday. Brian Daboll dialed up 50 run plays compared to just 18 pass attempts (three were credited to Brady Quinn). Cassel attempted only 7 passes throughout the first half. Crennel is taking a play out of Todd Haley’s playbook of defiance.

It’s tragic that Pioli has allowed this charade to go on as long as it has. At the very least, Cassel should’ve been benched last week. He’s regressing with every game. Cassel’s responsible for 13 turnovers this season. It’s time to move on. Brady Quinn is likely to be the Week 6 starter in Tampa Bay, but I suspect that he’ll be shelved again once Cassel is medically cleared to play. It’s just not fair that fans of this team are stuck with Matt Cassel. It’s worse that the highest-paid general manager in the NFL is going to allow them to take a bullet for a crime he ultimately committed.

Man up, Mr. Pioli! Take a proactive approach and reassure this town that you’re working diligently to put the best possible product on the field. Brady Quinn may or may not be the answer, but that’s beside the point. A message needs to be sent to players, to the coaching staff, and to the fans of this franchise that Cassel’s level of play is no longer acceptable. We’ll address a poorly-performing Brady Quinn when we cross that bridge. Make it happen, Scott. Give Romeo Crennel the green light to tell the media that Matt Cassel is no longer the starting quarterback for this team. Let him state unequivocally, injury or no injury, the Cassel experiment is over.

Now let’s recap:

Cassel deserves to be respected as a human being by the fans. The fans deserve a better quarterback. The team deserves a real shot at winning games. Romeo Crennel deserves to be evaluated on his coaching performance with players he can believe in. Scott Pioli deserves to be fired. I deserve something positive to write about! Sigh.

Until next week, Addicts!

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