Is there any doubt left in the minds of Chiefs fans everywhere what needs to happen next? The Chiefs must move on from Matt Cassel FAST.
This may sound a bit harsh, considering the Chiefs as a team and organization all stink right now, but Matt Cassel is the main reason the Chiefs are a losing franchise. I say that with some reservations, not because of any doubt that it's true, but because I generally like Cassel overall. He's a fiery leader, he's willing to stick his head into a play to block when needed, he plays hurt and seems to be a very tough dude overall. He just happens to be a lousy quarterback.
I think Cassel could potentially serve as an upper-tier backup QB somewhere, but this nonsense of putting an organization's (and fan base's) faith in him as a leader to the promised land has got to stop.
First things first: Cassel throws the single ugliest ball out of any NFL QB (that's right, I'm including Tebow in that argument). Sure, the league is riddled with guys with cannon arms that may not have the "intangibles" that a guy like Cassel has, but you've just got to be able to make basic throws in the NFL to survive as a QB. I'm not necessarily knocking Cassel's overall arm strength, which I do still think is vastly overrated, but I'm talking more about accuracy and just being able to throw a damn spiral.
Some of you may scoff at the notion that I want Cassel canned simply because his ball does not spin as beautifully as other QBs but you are missing the point. Cassel, even with sound protection and a comfy pocket, throws balls that wobble, sail, and float their way to the receiver. In the NFL where fractions of a second and inches determine a passing window...that's not a good thing.
Case #1: Cassel throws a ball with perfect protection over the wrong shoulder and high to TE Kevin Boss running up the seam in the game against Buffalo.
Result #1: Boss makes a fantastic catch (he made it look easy, but contorting your body around while running full speed and in front of a waiting safety to pummel you = not easy), the defender gets a good break on a now defenseless receiver (thanks to said inaccurate pass), and Boss is now done for the season.
Case #2: Cassel throws a ball to Dexter McCluster on a quick 3-yard out designed to get him in open space and get a quick few yards during the New Orleans game.
Result #2: Cassel's throw to McCluster is off target forcing him to adjust his body (thus giving the defender on this precision route time to react) and McCluster takes an awkward spill to the turf with his elbow bending the wrong direction. McCluster is writhing in such pain he drops the ball, New Orleans runs it in for a touchdown. even though the TD was reversed, New Orleans was still awarded the ball at the spot of the fumble. MCluster is out of the game.
Subsequent Result #2: Cassel throws another out to McCluster during the San Diego game while driving towards a score at the 22 yard-line. To be fair, this one was not an awful pass, but it's still high and outside and tough for a 5' 9" receiver with a soft arm cast on to reel in. The pass is tipped, San Diego intercepts it and returns it 30 yards.
Aside from these specific instances, I defy you to find a single throw this season where Cassel has hit his receiver in the chest, in stride, with a tight spiral. It just simply hasn't happened.
He is lucky he happens to have two 6' 4" physical freaks at receiver (Bowe & Baldwin) who catch a lot more balls he throws than 75% of the rest of the league would catch. These guys make him better than he is, which is a scary thought. Countless times Bowe has elevated to snag in a wounded duck Cassel has thrown him which thankfully hasn't gotten Bowe killed.
Cassel has thrown multiple swing passes to Charles and Draughn that end up being tackles for a loss as opposed to positive plays simply because he makes them break stride and adjust to the ball. We're talking about basic things that many High School QBs start to work on from freshman year. Yet the starting quarterback for the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs cannot execute any of these fundamental things.
On top of that, you're looking at a QB with the single longest delivery in the NFL since Byron Leftwich. Cassel takes about a full quarter just to get the ball from the cocked position to out of his hand. You don't think that has something to do with the supposed "constant pressure" he is always under?
Now let's look at the numbers:
- Cassel is responsible for 10 of the Chiefs' 15 total team turnovers in this young season. Seven picks and three fumbles. is every single one of those his fault? Probably not, but you can't explain away enough of them to even put him in the stratosphere of being mediocre.
- Let's take a look at the 31 other starting NFL QBs and determine if there is a single one you would not rather have leading the team this season other than Cassel. These are in my own rankings of their ability and ceiling:
- Elitists: Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Eli, Peyton, Big Ben, Ryan
- This category is a no-brainer. Even with the advanced age of some of the guys, I don't think any Chiefs fan in their right mind wouldn't take one of these guys over Cassel even if it was only for a couple of years.
- On the cusp: Rivers, Vick, Flacco, Stafford, Schaub, Smith, Romo
- Realistically this category would come down to Schaub, Smith, or Romo over Cassel and I'd still take either one in a heartbeat. I was openly hoping for the Niners to sign Peyton to see if bumbling Pioli could have pulled off a deal for Smith.
- Rookies/2nd Year QBs : Luck, RGIII, Newton, Dalton, Weeden, Gabbert, Ponder, Locker, Tannehill, Wilson
- Based on the rankings, you have to ask if you would rather have Matt Cassel or one of a trio of Jake Locker, Ryan Tannehill, or Russell Wilson.
- While none of them have yet to show us that they can be true franchise QBs capable of carrying a team and leading them deep into the post-season, they also have shown more flashes in their very limited time thus far than Cassel has in 3+ seasons.
- Just another "guy": Bradford, Fitzpatrick, Freeman, Cutler, Palmer, Kolb, Sanchez
- It gets a little tougher to say without a shadow of a doubt that Cassel is worse than each guy on this list. To me, the only ones in doubt are Palmer, Kolb, and Sanchez. Palmer gets a pass because he has been an upper-tier gun-slinger at some point in his career so we know what he is capable of. Kolb is still a bit of an unknown but has started to play a little more consistently recently. Sanchez to me may be the only one I'm not buying instead of Cassel. At best, he is little sleeker and younger version of Cassel. At worst, he's the same exact QB only with more character concerns.
The gist of this analysis looks like at best, there's one single other starting QB in the NFL that I would not rather have then Matt Cassel. That's no ringing endorsement.
It's long overdue that the Chiefs cut ties with the anchor that is holding down their hot air balloon. Cassel's only saving grace is that Scott Pioli's wagon is hitched to him. I say we bid adieu to both.
In true Cassel fashion, he will probably follow-up this article with a stellar performance on Sunday that makes fans (and Pioli) think for another minute, "well maybe he is capable". But its time to realize that we've seen this show already. After 3 1/4 seasons, we know who he is and what he's capable of. Unfortunately it's not a starting NFL quarterback.
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