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Old 09-26-2011, 04:28 PM  
ReynardMuldrake ReynardMuldrake is offline
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Cassel’s quarterback play isn’t inspiring hope

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Cassel’s quarterback play isn’t inspiring hope

By SAM MELLINGER

SAN DIEGO
| Really, they have so much reason to feel good in this place. The Chiefs played their best game of the season and even if that’s a classic thinnest-kid-at-fat-camp compliment, there is enough that the large men in this locker room should be smiling and whooping about.

Instead, the silence is broken only by the muted shuffling of equipment managers and the hushed questions from reporters about a blown opportunity.

And to be clear, it’s Matt Cassel who blew this opportunity.

The wake of the Chiefs’ 20-17 loss to the Chargers is a good time to wonder how many more chances he should get.

Because no matter how much lipstick the Chiefs try to put on it, this is the kind of failure that can stick with a guy, can change hearts and minds — and not in a good way.


The grassroots fan movement hoping for the Chiefs to stink their way into Stanford quarterback and assumed top overall pick Andrew Luck gained momentum. The players around Cassel look capable of doing their part, and Cassel has apparently regressed enough to create the need.

This is not the player general manager Scott Pioli envisioned when he used a trade and $63 million contract to secure him. Cassel is supposed to be the brand of quarterback who, as coach Todd Haley might say, “won’t do the kinds of things that get you beat.”

He is a facilitator and a protector of the football. The arm strength isn’t there for all the throws, but he made the Pro Bowl last year for throwing only seven interceptions. This is the kind of quarterback the Chiefs have built their offense, and much of their identity, around.

Well, what can you say now?

What happens when a 29-year-old quarterback starting his 48th game panics at the most crucial time and throws an interception on a screen pass?

“That’s obviously on me,” Cassel says. “I don’t have any words for that other than the fact that I’m hurting inside and I wish I could change it.”

Cassel has now thrown three touchdowns and five interceptions. Jacksonville’s Luke McCown is the only man in the league with a worse ratio, and he just got benched for a rookie. Cassel’s 5.2 yards per attempt are last in the league and would match the worst mark for a full-time quarterback in three seasons.

The Chiefs’ 0-3 record is not entirely on Cassel, of course. The offensive line is leaking and Jamaal Charles and Tony Moeaki are on injured reserve. This team’s problems go much deeper than one man, but this one stinks worse because of the context.

The Chiefs spent parts of Sunday looking like an actual NFL team for the first time all season, holding the Chargers to fewer than 4 yards per carry and confusing Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers into two interceptions (even if the refs may have missed a pass interference call on one of them).

The Chiefs were behind all day, Cassel ineffective enough through three quarters that the offense mostly became tiny Dexter McCluster running behind a broken line.

The Chiefs didn’t get a first down or a point or a positive passing play to a receiver until the third quarter. Cassel mostly continued his frustrating habit of throwing no more than 5 yards downfield, often just short of what’s needed for a first down.

Except the Chargers — working within the Norv Turner corollary — never took the invitation to make this a blowout. They generally moved the ball just enough to satisfy fantasy football owners, being careful to score only in response to the Chiefs’ scores.

After a historically inept first two games, criticism rising to the level of questioning Haley’s job security, a win here would’ve changed the entire conversation back in Kansas City.

Cassel could’ve done that, right here, the kind of 2-minute situation every kid plays out in the backyard. On first down, Cassel hit Leonard Pope down the left seam for 23 yards. Afterward, Haley called it “one of (Cassel’s) better throws of the last couple years.”

His next may have been his worst.

The Chiefs had what Haley and many of the players involved still think was the perfect play called at the perfect time. They knew the Chargers would bring outside pressure, especially from the weak side, so a screen pass to McCluster into the blitz could go for a big chunk.

Cassel kept his head downfield for the first few steps of his drop, and maybe it was the adrenaline of the moment, but when he swung his head back to the left, he blanked on safety Eric Weddle peeling out of his blitz and in front of McCluster.

“A ball I’d like to have back,” Cassel says.

“We can’t throw an interception there,” Haley says.

“We could’ve either thrown the ball into the ground, or could’ve done this, could’ve done that,” McCluster says. “But you know what? It didn’t happen. We’ve got to stick together and keep moving.”

Whether that includes Cassel is now seriously up for debate, the biggest topic of this Chiefs season. Maybe Ryan Succop would’ve missed the game-tying field-goal attempt, or maybe the Chiefs would’ve lost in overtime. It’s entirely possible that Cassel could’ve made the right decision and still be watching tape of a loss today.

But we’ll never know, and that’s the point.

The bigger vision of this offense is surrounding Cassel with enough playmakers and support to make up for his inadequacies and highlight what Pioli sees — saw? — as a critical ability to avoid major mistakes.

Even before Sunday, that thinking could be picked apart based on the Chiefs’ still having an obviously flawed roster in need of both depth and upgrades. Now, it can be blown up by the growing pile of evidence that Cassel is miscast even for the neutered role of facilitator.

The players around Cassel did enough that the talk today should be about hope. Instead, Cassel made the kind of mistake that forces you to wonder if he needs to be replaced to get that hope back.

http://www.kansascity.com/2011/09/25...ou-wonder.html
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Old 09-26-2011, 04:28 PM   #2
ReynardMuldrake ReynardMuldrake is offline
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Yeah, and I hear the Titanic was a fairly large boat.
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Old 09-26-2011, 04:39 PM   #3
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I am not a big Cassel fan but I believe his rib injury is worse than they let on.
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Old 09-26-2011, 05:02 PM   #4
suzzer99 suzzer99 is offline
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Who cares? He's always been pretty inaccurate unless he's in a groove where we're playing well and the chips are up. We need a QB that can lift a team up when they're overmatched a little or things aren't going well. That's always when Cassel can't hit the broad side of a barn.
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Old 09-26-2011, 05:05 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bevischief View Post
I am not a big Cassel fan but I believe his rib injury is worse than they let on.
Did he have injured ribs last year when the entire offensive system was (brilliantly) tailored to mask his weaknesses?
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Old 09-26-2011, 05:08 PM   #6
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It must be a pretty strange rib injury, though. Not bad enough to prevent him from throwing the ball down-field when he forgets to check out of a pass, but sufficiently bad to cause him to miss a receiver who was 5 yards away by ... well ... about 10 yards.

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Old 09-26-2011, 05:08 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by suzzer99 View Post
Cassel can't hit the broad side of a barn.
Yes he can, ... as long as the barn isn't more than 3 yards away. After watching the Sandy Eggo game, I'm convinced the guy couldn't hit water if he fell out of boat.
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Old 09-26-2011, 05:08 PM   #8
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Old 09-26-2011, 05:10 PM   #9
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Ya think?
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Old 09-26-2011, 05:12 PM   #10
the Talking Can the Talking Can is offline
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Cassel was an embarrassment to the position yesterday.

He makes me long for Damon Huard.
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Old 09-26-2011, 05:13 PM   #11
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yea his play isnt inspiring, neither is his ability to put his hat on his head
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Old 09-26-2011, 05:17 PM   #12
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The Play calling doesn't leave much to be desired either.
The only time they open it up and go down field the Breaston is when Bowe is out of the game, wtf? isn't that part of the reason they got more help in the off season so opposing defenses would stop doubling Bowe?

I remember watching teams in the 70's that had better passing attacks/schemes that what the Chiefs do. Why was Haley hired again?
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Old 09-26-2011, 05:17 PM   #13
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Wow. Brutal article by a KC Star guy. No attempt to sugarcoat the failures.
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Old 09-26-2011, 05:18 PM   #14
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I remember watching teams in the 70's that had better passing attacks/schemes that what the Chiefs do. Why was Haley hired again?
Haley is trying to scheme around Cassel. Watch some of the Cardinals under Haley, and you'll see a completely different offense.
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Old 09-26-2011, 05:18 PM   #15
Rausch Rausch is offline
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Did he have injured ribs last year when the entire offensive system was (brilliantly) tailored to mask his weaknesses?
We have more offensive talent this year and his play is back to bad or worse.

What are the only things that are different?...
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