Archive for October, 2010

By The Numbers — Polls 10-30-2010

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

As most of you know by now, I enjoy watching the polls. I’m a frequent visitor to sites such as Rasmussen Reports, Gallup and Real Clear Politics. There are a couple polls I want to share with you today.

PollsCenter Right?
Republicans have claimed for years that we’re a “center-right” country. They do so because that’s what the numbers show. For the last couple of decades, polls typically show that around 40% of people describe their political views as conservative, 40% as moderate, and 20% as liberal. (See this historical summary at Gallup.) Personally, I suspect these polls are misleading. It’s been my experience that conservatives are proud to be conservatives, and are willing to describe themselves as such. I’m not sure that the same holds true for some liberals. Over the years I’ve met people who I would describe as liberals, yet they describe themselves as moderates. And I think there are some numbers that would backup this conclusion.

Here are two recent polls on Rasmussen Reports that I believe demonstrate this to be true. In my opinion, we have a leftist President, and a leftist Congress, passing leftist legislation. The size of our federal government has grown dramatically over the last four years while the left has controlled Congress. But according to Rasmussen, 32% of likely U.S. voters say we’re headed in the right direction (read more here), and 25% of likely voters prefer more services and higher taxes from our government (read more here). These numbers suggest to me that while 20% of the people describe themselves as liberals, certainly more than 20% of them seem to share a liberal view of the role of our government.

I believe that it’s more likely that 25-30% of people hold liberal views. So while the Republicans are correct that we’re a center-right country, I believe that the percentage of liberals is understated in these polls.

Smaller Government
There are a number of polls out there that indicate the mood of America right now. To me the most telling is that 65% of likely voters say they prefer a government with fewer services and lower taxes rather than one with more services and higher taxes. And according to Rasmussen, 64% of voters say that the country is headed down the wrong track. When you dive into this a little deeper, Rasmussen has an interesting subset of these numbers. They divide out the “Political Class” from “Mainstream Voters”. According to Rasmussen: “Seventy-six percent (76%) of the Political Class believe the United States is generally heading in the right direction, while 81% of Mainstream voters think the country is going down the wrong track.” It is incredible to me that the Political Class is so out of touch with Mainstream voters.

Charlie CristFlorida’s Senate Race
Out of all the House and Senate races, the poll that caught my eye this morning was the poll for Florida’s senatorial race. For those who have not followed this race, it’s been pretty entertaining. In the Republican primary, the Tea Party-backed Marco Rubio defeated governor Charlie Crist. Crist decided to run as an independent, so there’s a three way race between Rubio (R), Crist (I) and Kendrick Meek (D). Earlier this week the polls showed Rubio at 43%, Crist at 32%, and Meek at 20%.

But then the Democratic Party got involved. The Democrats sent Bill Clinton to Florida to convince Meek to drop out of the race, and throw his support behind Crist. Crist has said that he’s willing to caucus with the Democrats. He’s also said that he’s had conversations with Clinton’s people, as well as the White House, and that at one point Meek had agreed to drop out of the race. It appears that this strategy has doubly backfired on the Democrats. Not only did Meek change his mind and decide to remain in the race, it appears that Rubio has picked up seven points in the polls this week. The newest poll from Rasmussen has Rubio at 50%, Crist at 30%, and Meek at 16%. I think that the voters are tired of politics-as-usual.

In Their Own Words — 10-28-2010

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

President ObamaHere’s a recent quote from President Obama while speaking on the Hispanic Radio station Univision: “If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s gonna be harder and that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2.”

Who are “our enemies”? This is the post-racial president who was supposed to unite our country?

And here’s a quote from Jon Stewart during an interview with Terry Gross from NPR: “I would imagine, you know, Beck and Palin are easier punching bags, and we can think of it as, oh my God, I’m so scared if they take over. And you know what? We’ll be fine. You know, we had a civil war. Just – we’re not that fragile, and I think we always have to remember that people can be opponents, but not enemies. And there are enemies in the world. We just need the news media to help us delineate. And I think that’s where the failing is, that the culture of corruption that exists in the media doesn’t allow us to delineate between enemies and opponents. And that’s where we sort of fall into trouble.”

Can we elect Jon Stewart instead?

Bills at 0-6 Will Be No Pushover

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Buffalo Bills Quarterback Ryan FitzpatrickThe Buffalo Bills are in their first year under new head coach Chan Gailey. I’m sure you remember Chan. He was Herm’s offensive coordinator in 2008, retained by Todd Haley, only to be fired a couple weeks before the 2009 regular season. I like Gailey, though he was certainly a surprise pick by the Bills this year. He’s a creative offensive mind. He cut starting quarterback Trent Edwards a few weeks ago, and under their new starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Bills offense has shown signs of life. Last week they put up 34 points at Baltimore against a very good Ravens’ defense.

Bills Offense / Chiefs Defense
A quick look at the numbers and you see why Gailey made the switch at quarterback. In two games, Edwards put up only 17 points (8.5 points per game). And in four games with Fitzpatrick, the Bills have scored 104 points (26 points per game). A Harvard graduate, Ryan’s got a quarterback rating of 102.2. (I just picked him up for my fantasy team as my backup quarterback.) Buffalo is also rushing the ball fairly effectively as they’re ranked #15 in the league with about 110 yards rushing per game. The Bills have some decent skill players with Lee Evans and Fred Jackson. And you don’t think that Chan Gailey won’t be extra motivated to have his offense humming against the Chiefs?

This will be an interesting test for Kansas City’s defense. The Chiefs are making that transition from underdog to division leader. And they’ll be facing a pesky and balanced offense capable of scoring some points. The Chiefs allowed the Jags to hang around for a half before pulling away. But the Bills are better offensively than the Jags. The Chiefs are not getting enough pressure on the quarterback, and are capable of giving up big plays in the passing game.

Chiefs Offense / Bills Defense
As a Chiefs fan, this is a match made in heaven. The Chiefs are not only leading the league in rushing, they’re doing so by a significant margin. The Chiefs are averaging 176.5 yards per game on the ground. In second place are the Jets at 159.2 yards per game. Only the Texans average a little more per rush than Kansas City. The Chiefs are creative in the running game. Both Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles have proven effective running between the tackles and taking the ball outside. Mix in a little Dexter McCluster and this could be a nightmare for the Bills. Why? Because they Bills are the WORST team in the league against the run. They’re giving up 174.5 yards per game on the ground, which is 17 more yards than the Bucs who are the second worst team against the run. Hhhmm, what do you suppose the Chiefs’ strategy will be against the Bills?

Technically the Bills are ranked #9 against the pass, but this is very misleading. Why would you bother passing against the Bills when you can run against this defense?

Keys To The Game
The Chiefs will run the ball and control the clock. It’s difficult to imagine that the Bills will all of a sudden become effective against the run, against the Chiefs, at Arrowhead stadium. The key becomes the Chiefs defense against Fitzpatrick. The Chiefs defense is ranked #25 against the pass, and Fitzpatrick is a smart enough quarterback to find some openings. This game worries me a bit. Actually worries me more than the game against the Jags last week. In the NFL, every week you get an upset. And the Bills are going to find a way to win a couple games this year. Just hoping it’s not this week.

Prediction: Chiefs 27, Bills 24

KANU Comments on NPR’s Firing of Juan Williams

Monday, October 25th, 2010

The fallout continues for NPR and Vivian Schiller over the firing of Juan Williams.

In telephone interviews with Fox News this week, general managers of several stations affiliated with NPR spoke sharply about Schiller’s performance in the episode. Janet Campbell, general manager at Kansas station KANU, said she did not believe Williams should have been fired at all, and that she “absolutely” saw a double standard at work in the network’s treatment of Williams and Totenberg.

“I think it had to do with the network he was on,” said Campbell, who has served as KANU’s general manager for fifteen years. “I thought it was a knee-jerk reaction. And I was extremely disappointed at [Schiller's] remarks in Atlanta. I thought that was very childish. Someone in charge of such a large organization should know better.”

Speaking at a newsmakers’ luncheon at the Atlanta Press Club on Thursday, when controversy over Williams’s firing was still fresh and reaching a feverish peak in news media circles, Schiller said Williams’s feelings about Muslim airlines passengers should be between him and his “psychiatrist or him and his publicist, take your pick.” Schiller apologized to Williams later that afternoon, calling her remark hasty and “thoughtless.”

“I feel a little bit like the street sweeper at the elephant parade,” said KANU’s Campbell. “I’m getting twenty to forty calls…a lot of people asking me for my budget information. That’s all I’ve done for three days. By the time I got in Monday morning – while I appreciated her apology – I thought it was a little late.”

Campbell was not the only one to speak out. Read the full story here.

BTW — For clarification, Schiller did not apologize to Williams. She made a public apology for how she handled the firing. But as far as I’ve seen, she’s never apologized to, or spoken with Williams, since he was fired. Or before for that matter.

Political Hits — 10-23-2010

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Lots of subjects to touch on today, so let’s jump right in.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
The majority of Americans want Washington to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I think the administration has the right approach on this one. They would prefer we settle this in Congress than in the courts. I’ve been a longtime supporter of gay rights, and hope that we’ll do the right thing by repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. But doing so through legislation in the Congress is a much better course of action than allowing our courts to make this decision for us. Now if only Congress would do the right thing.

NPR Fires Juan WilliamsThoughts on Juan Williams and NPR
I’m a fan of NPR. I think in many respects they do a tremendous job with their reporting. I’ve listened to their morning broadcast on KPR literally thousands of times — almost every weekday morning for the last 15 years. As a former employer and business owner myself, I have had to hire and fire a lot of people over the years. Let me tell you, firing people sucks. I will defend NPR’s right to fire people all day long. But I want to make a couple points.

1. If you listen to the entire exchange between Juan Williams and Bill O’Reilly, it’s very clear (at least to me) that Williams is not an “islamophob”. He certainly said something that can easily be taken out of context without hearing the full exchange. And he said something that’s not “politically correct”. It made me cringe the first time I heard it. But I’ve seen enough of Williams over the years to be confident that he’s not prejudice against Muslims.

2. NPR did not fire Williams because he expressed an opinion (and technically, this was not an opinion, but a personal feeling). NPR has long allowed their reporters to express opinions in the media. CEO Vivian Schiller never bothered to speak with Williams directly before making her decision, or after.

3. Schiller’s public comments were reprehensible. Did you see her quote? Schiller told an audience in Atlanta on Thursday that Williams should have kept his comments about Muslims between “himself and his psychiatrist.” The feedback against Schiller and NPR has been substantial. Schiller later apologized for her comments, but never apologized to Williams directly. (This is called “cover your ass” in legalese.) As a former employer myself, I can tell you that this is complete incompetence. You should NEVER make a comment like this about a former employee.

4. So why was Williams fired? NPR has long disliked Williams’ association with Fox News. Williams, an admitted liberal, does not neatly fit into NPR’s perception of what a liberal should be. I suspect that NPR has long considered firing Williams, and was waiting for the right opportunity. And they quickly pounced on Williams’ “politically incorrect” statement.

5. People will argue that Williams is an islamophob and deserved to be fired for his comments. But when I see such broad support for Williams, I wonder who was really offended by his comments? I’ve seen support on the left from people such as Whoopi Goldberg and Bob Beckel. I’ve seen support on the right from people like Karl Rove. I’ve seen support from moderate Muslims. From Republicans and Democrats alike. And if the reactions among NPR’s own audience is any indication, then NPR has a big problem on their hands.

6. I’ve long believed that we should eliminate public funding for the media. We’ll see if this becomes the triggering point for defunding NPR and all publicly funded media.

CongressMidterm Elections
I’ve been following the polls, but find it difficult to predict what the outcome will be in the upcoming election. So I’m not going to try. The general consensus is that Republicans stand a good chance of taking back the House, and a much slimmer chance of taking back the Senate. The polls attempt to determine “likely voters”, but with a midterm election, that’s a tough thing to determine. Dick Morris generally has a pretty keen insight into the polls and voter behavior. He predicted months ago that the Republicans would win huge gains this election cycle, and take back both the House and the Senate. We’ll see. That might prove to be hopeful thinking on his part. Morris has become a very outspoken critic of the left.

I wrote a post back in January about how Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts could help President Obama win a second term. My comments still seem relevant given the likelihood that Republicans will make gains in Congress. If you missed it the first time, you can read it here.

European Socialism
Are you watching the meltdown in Europe? This has been building for months. In France, the government wants to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62. And the unions are rioting in the streets. But it’s not just France. Several countries in Europe have all come to the same conclusion — that an entitlement society is financially unsustainable. Countries across Europe are enacting huge cuts in benefits and spending, and are eliminating hundreds (if not thousands) of government programs.

I’ve long considered writing a post explaining that socialism is a failed economic model, but just haven’t gotten around to it. It’s the road that the President and Congress have been taking us down these last two years. Though technically, state capitalism is a better description of what we’re becoming than socialism.

The same thing could happen here if Congress ever decides to restore fiscal discipline.

The Federal Budget
I find it incredibly irresponsible that Congress has failed to pass a budget for 2011. And it’s not just that they failed to pass a budget. They didn’t even attempt to pass a budget. Many have predicted that the Democrats will pass a budget after the midterm elections when they return in December. The thought being that passing a budget before the elections would only hurt the Democrats at the voter booth.

My take? I don’t expect them to pass a budget in December either.

Why? Because they don’t want to be on the hook for what comes next. Once a budget is passed, then we’ll compute the upcoming budget deficit for 2011. There is no way to avoid a budget deficit next year. As our national debt increases, we will soon be approaching our national debt ceiling again. (Last January I wrote about Congress raising the debt ceiling by $2 trillion in order to push that next increase beyond the 2010 midterm elections. I was right.)

So what happens next? Call my cynical, but I think this has been the plan all year. Let’s assume that the Republicans take back the House and the Senate. One of the first things they’ll have to do is pass a budget for 2011. And unless their initial budget includes SIGNIFICANT spending cuts (which the President will never sign), then Congress will soon be faced with another vote on the debt ceiling. There will be no way around raising the debt ceiling again.

The Democrats will then scream “See, they’re the same old Republicans”.

What comes next? Have you been watching Europe?

Chiefs Host Jags, Jags Sign QBs

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Every now and then you see a team tempt fate with only two quarterbacks on their roster. This decision may come back to haunt the Jaguars this week. After suffering injuries to both of their quarterbacks Monday night against the Titans, Jacksonville went out and signed quarterbacks Todd Bouman and Patrick Ramsey this week. Starting quarterback David Garrard suffered a concussion, and backup Trent Edwards a thumb injury on his passing hand. Neither practiced on Wednesday. Teams are very careful with concussions, so I find it unlikely that Garrard will play. Hard to tell with Edwards, who was picked up only weeks ago after getting cut from the Bills, and still only knows part of the playbook.

Jags Maurice Jones-DrewJacksonville is Struggling
Even before the injuries to Garrard and Edwards, the Jaguars have been struggling offensively. Their offense is ranked #25 in yards per game, and they’re #23 in points per game. Statistically they’re a bit like the Chiefs. They run the ball well (Jaguars #6, Chiefs #1) and find it difficult in the passing game (Jaguars #26, Chiefs #27). Running back Maurice Jones-Drew (described by coach Haley as a “rolling ball of butcher knives”) is one of my favorite players in the league, but I’m a little surprised that he’s only averaging 77.2 yards per game (#13 in the league) and 3.9 yards per carry.

Since the Jags are 3-3, you would assume that their defense must be playing well since their offense appears mediocre at best. But they’re not. They’re ranked #27 in the league in total defense, and are among the worst three teams in the league in points per game.

How are the Jaguars 3-3? You wouldn’t know it by looking at the numbers.

How the Chiefs Will Stop the Jaguars
The mark of a good running game is when the opposing team knows you’re going to run the ball, and you still cram it down their throats. The Chiefs are the best running team in the league. They run the ball effectively with both Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones, and do so in a variety of ways. We’ve seen flashes of an effective passing game from Kansas City against the 49ers and the Texans. I’m expecting to see the Chiefs have some success throwing the ball against the Jaguars as well.

The Chiefs defense was exposed against the Texans last week, giving up four touchdowns on Houston’s last four possessions. But the Texans may have the most explosive offense in the league when you consider their ability to pass AND run the ball. They’re the most two-dimensional offense I’ve seen this year. Houston is going to exploit defensive deficiencies. And the Chiefs still have some defensive deficiencies.

So why has the Chiefs defense played well this year other than the last quarter against Houston? Because they do a great job of shutting down a one-dimensional team. Against the Browns and the 49ers, the Chiefs shut down the running game and dared their opponents to pass. Against the Colts, the Chiefs showed little concern for their running game, and played effectively against Manning and his receivers. The Chiefs are becoming a good defense, but they’re not a great defense yet. The good news is that they’re facing a one-dimensional offense this week who will likely be playing without their starting quarterback.

But you want to know what I want to see this week? Anger. The Chiefs let the Houston game slip between their fingers. They were up by 10 but failed to stop the Texans when it mattered the most. Jacksonville is like a wounded dog. I want to see the Chiefs show up with the attitude that they want to punish the Jaguars after losing to the Texans last week. I want to see the Chiefs close the door on the Jags early and often. And not just close the door, but slam it shut. They can do it. Some of that Arrowhead magic is returning to Kansas City. The Chiefs defense is playing better. They’re running the ball and controlling the clock. The Chiefs need to show that they’re not happy with their 3-2 record. Good teams get mad when they lose. And I think the Chiefs are becoming a good team. They need to kick the wounded dog while it’s down, not let it bite.

Prediction: Chiefs 27, Jaguars 9

Chiefs Trade DE Alex Magee

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Kansas City Chiefs Trade Alex MageeYou can say this about Todd Haley and Scott Pioli, they’re not afraid to make a decision. Alex Magee was the Chiefs’ third round pick last year in the NFL draft. And now he’s been traded to the Bucs.

Many head coaches and general managers are so concerned about admitting they’ve made a mistake that they’ll hold onto a player even after they’ve decided that the player no longer fits into their future plans. Especially when that player was one of their top draft picks. But Pioli and Haley have a vision of what they want. And who they want. Apparently Magee was no longer part of that picture.

Why? I don’t know. And I’m not sure I care. Pioli has earned my trust. Despite a weak 2009 draft class, the 2010 draft class looks fabulous. The Chiefs are an improved football team with a vision of becoming a championship football team.

Redistribution of Wealth

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Three words that carry a lot of weight. Redistribution of wealth. This phrase has been thrown around a lot lately. We hear from the Republicans that it’s bad. We hear from the Democrats that it’s good. They’re both right. And they’re both wrong.

Our government has responsibilities. We may have differences of opinion about how BIG the role of government should be. But virtually all Americans agree that the government has to protect us (military and consumer protection) and help those of us who need a little help along the way (typically termed as welfare programs though they exist in many forms). To fulfill these responsibilities, the government requires money. And they generate money by taxing us.

So what is redistribution of wealth? That’s when the rich pay a higher rate in taxes (or pay a heavier tax burden) than the middle class or the poor to pay for programs that are mostly for the BENEFIT of the middle class and the poor.

When Redistribution of Wealth is Good
So why is redistribution of wealth good? Because we have more needs and more priorities for our federal government than what can be achieved without redistribution of wealth. The rich must bear a larger financial burden to fulfill these obligations. And they do. And truthfully, most of them do not complain about it. They understand that it is needed and required of them. (They DO complain when tax money is wasted, as they should. Or when the government is growing at an unsustainable rate. But that’s another discussion that’s not relevant here.)

We need to understand that almost EVERY federal expenditure IS redistribution of wealth.

Do you want to be able to mail a letter for $.44? Did you know that the USPS reported a $3.5 billion loss for its fiscal third quarter this year? Who makes up the difference? The rich through their taxes. Who pays for the military? Who pays for farm subsidies? Who pays for the research of green energies? Who pays for cancer research? The rich.

The Bush Tax Cuts
Even the republicans, who typically complain the most about redistribution of wealth, engage in it. Many (mostly on the left) criticize that the Bush Tax Cuts were “only for the rich”. The numbers do not back up this claim. As an example, in 2000, the top 20% of earners paid 81.2% of ALL income taxes. In 2004 (following Bush’s 2001 and 2003 tax cuts), the top 20% of earners paid 85.3% of all income taxes. Bush shifted a greater tax burden to the rich, and decreased the tax burden on the poor.

Bush Tax Cuts and Tax Burden

Click on the image to enlarge.

Yes, Bush cut tax rates on the rich. But he cut taxes on ALL Americans. And comparatively he reduced the tax burden on the lower 60% of wage earners. His tax policy removed the burden of income taxes from many Americans all together. The Bush Tax Cuts furthered the cause of redistribution of wealth.

(For more info on the Ten Myths About the Bush Tax Cuts, read this from the Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank.)

When Redistribution of Wealth Becomes Bad
I have attempted to make the case that redistribution of wealth is not bad. That it is required if we’re to pay for the federal programs that are important. (Discussing the size and scope of these programs can wait for another day, and is another issue entirely.) The goal of our tax policy should be to provide enough money to the federal government to fund our priorities. But when the GOAL becomes redistribution of wealth, then we’ve lost our way. Raising taxes on the rich because somehow they don’t DESERVE to keep the money they’ve earned is when redistribution of wealth becomes bad. I was reminded the other day of this exchange between ABC’s Charles Gibson and then candidate Obama during a debate with Hillary Clinton (see full transcript here):

GIBSON: All right. You have, however, said you would favor an increase in the capital gains tax. As a matter of fact, you said on CNBC, and I quote, “I certainly would not go above what existed under Bill Clinton,” which was 28 percent. It’s now 15 percent. That’s almost a doubling, if you went to 28 percent.

But actually, Bill Clinton, in 1997, signed legislation that dropped the capital gains tax to 20 percent.

OBAMA: Right.

GIBSON: And George Bush has taken it down to 15 percent.

OBAMA: Right.

GIBSON: And in each instance, when the rate dropped, revenues from the tax increased; the government took in more money. And in the 1980s, when the tax was increased to 28 percent, the revenues went down.

So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?

OBAMA: Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.

“Fairness”. This really gets to my disagreement on tax policy with the far left. “Fairness”.

Let’s ask this question in a more hypothetical way: “Candidate Obama, would you be in favor of lowering taxes on the rich if by doing so it would increase tax revenues to pay for your social programs?” According to his comment above, the answer would be “No”.

Tax policy is no longer about generating revenues to pay for social programs. It is NOW to be designed to punish the rich. Candidate Obama does not care if a lower tax rate on the rich generates GREATER tax revenues than a lower tax rate. Why? Because allowing the rich to keep their money is not “fair”. Those increased tax revenues from the lower tax rates can help pay for social programs — welfare, education, health care, etc. But that doesn’t matter. What MATTERS is taking MORE money from the rich, even if it’s to the detriment of total tax revenues, and the detriment of social programs.

That’s when redistribution of wealth becomes bad.

Fix the Quarterback, Chiefs Face Texans

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback Matt CasselFixing Matt Cassel
“The first thing I wanted to do was help fix the quarterback,” said new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis this summer.

The media took this to mean “See, he’s broken.” The media believe that the Chiefs have pulled the strings on Cassel because they don’t trust him to throw the ball. Despite the Chiefs’ 3-1 record, the fans are running out of patience with the Chiefs’ passing game, which has been largely ineffective so far this year. Some fans are calling for Brodie Croyle to replace Cassel. Some are already looking at next year’s draft to evaluate quarterbacks.

I think we’re looking at this all wrong. I have a theory. Are you surprised?

We’ve all heard the story about Matt Cassel’s college career. At USC, Cassel sat behind Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. During his four seasons there, he completed 19 of 33 passes for 192 yards. The Patriots saw something in him and drafted him in the seventh round of the 2005 draft. He sat on the bench behind Tom Brady for three years. That’s seven years of practice with virtually no time facing live action. Practice is great, but nothing replaces playing in a real game.

During the last two years, Cassel has started 30 games. We need to think of these 30 starts as Matt’s college career. Not his pro career. I believe that Charlie Weis has decided to start over with Cassel, much like a team would with a newly drafted quarterback. They are going back to the beginning and working on the basics of the quarterback position. Footwork. Reads. Accuracy. Protecting the ball. And avoiding sacks.

I keep thinking about Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers.

In Roethlisberger’s rookie campaign in 2004, he started 13 games, but only threw the ball 295 times. He completed 196 of those attempts for 2621 yards. His numbers were very similar in 2005, where he started 12 games, completed 168 of 268 attempts for 2385 yards. But compare that to 2009 where Big Ben completed 337 of 506 attempts for 4328 yards.

Philip Rivers didn’t become the starting quarterback until his third year in the league, but the Chargers still worked him in slowly to the passing game. In 2006, Rivers started 16 games and threw for 3388 yards. And in 2007, Rivers again started 16 games and threw for only 3152 yards. Pretty pedestrian compared to the last two years where he topped 4000 yards each year.

I’m not predicting that Cassel is the next Philip Rivers or Ben Roethlisberger. The NFL is littered with talented athletes who never become star quarterbacks. But I think to conclude that the Chiefs don’t trust Matt Cassel is to take the wrong message from what Weis is trying to accomplish. “The first thing I wanted to do was help fix the quarterback.”

Quick Thoughts on the Colts Game
Don’t want to spend much time rehashing the game against the Colts. Romeo Crennel’s defense was outstanding. Holding Manning and the Colts to 19 points at their stadium is an accomplishment. The defense gave the Chiefs a chance. The offense did not, putting only 9 points on the board. The Chiefs struggled to convert on third downs in particular. But nobody really expected the Chiefs to win this game. The Colts are more talented than the Chiefs.  Though the Chiefs appear to be closing that gap.

Chiefs Face Texans
After the first couple weeks of the season, I thought for sure this would be a loss for the Chiefs. But now I’m not so sure. The Texans have lost two of their last three games (by 14 points to the Cowboys, and 24 points to the Giants). The Cowboys and Giants combined have four wins, meaning that two of those wins have come against Houston. Both of the Texans’ losses are at home, so they don’t appear to have much of a home field advantage.

The Texans’ defense has been abysmal. They’re ranked 31st in the league, and have given up more than 400 yards per game. They’re ranked dead last against the pass as they’re giving up almost 330 yards per game through the air. The big question is whether or not the Chiefs can take advantage of Houston’s defense.

Arian Foster of the Houston TexansOn the other side of the ball, Houston’s offense has been playing well. They have the fifth ranked rushing offense (Arian Foster is leading the league with 564 yards though he’s played one more game than Adrian Peterson), and Matt Schaub throws the ball effectively. But he’s also been picked off 5 times, and has already taken 14 sacks this season. It appears that the Texans’ line has had a difficult time protecting their quarterback.

The Chiefs’ defense will enter this game with a lot of confidence. If they can create some turnovers, they’ll have an opportunity to win it at the end. But this time, Dwayne Bowe will need to catch the ball.

Prediction: Chiefs 16, Texans 13

Chiefs to Face Manning and Colts

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Peyton Manning and the Colts Come to KCThe Chiefs find themselves as the last unbeaten team in the league at 3-0, and travel to Indianapolis on Sunday to face the Colts, who are surprisingly at 2-2. The Colts are heavily favored to win.

How the Chiefs Could Win
The Chiefs are doing two things very well this year — running the football, and stopping the run. The Chiefs are third in the league in rushing, averaging 160.7 yards per game. And the Chiefs are ranked fifth in the league at stopping the run, only giving up 75 yards per game. This would seem to be a great matchup for the Chiefs, because the Colts are 29th in the league at running the ball, and 29th in the league at stopping the run. The Chiefs must dominate time of possession in this game, and limit the number of times that the Colts have the ball in order to win. Matt Cassel needs to hit enough passes to keep the Colts from loading up their defensive front, but expect to see a ton of Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles running the ball.

How the Chiefs Could Lose
Two words: Peyton Manning. It’s no secret, the Colts like to throw the ball. And Peyton is having an incredible start to the season. Take a look at these numbers: 69.8% completion rate for 1365 yards, 11 TDs and only 1 INT. His quarterback rating is 112.2. If Manning could average these numbers over the entire season, it would be the greatest single season in the history of the NFL.

Now that’s not likely to happen. Manning will throw some INTs this season. He’ll play against some defenses that will do a better job of containing their passing game. The question will be if the Chiefs with their VERY young secondary can cover Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie and Dallas Clark. The Chiefs defensively have focused on stopping the run all year by putting safety Eric Berry up near the line of scrimmage. This won’t work on Sunday. Berry and the rest of the defensive backs will be in pass coverage all day, and will not be able to help in run support.

Prediction
If the Chiefs could pull this off, it would send shockwaves through the NFL. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has coached against Manning and the Colts many times. And the Chiefs have had two weeks to prepare for this game. It would be a coming out party for the Chiefs.

The Colts are the most consistent team in the NFL. They win, especially at home. And they’re coming off a last second loss to the Jaguars. It’s difficult to imagine the Colts losing two in a row, but this Colts team does not appear to be as dominant as they’ve been in the past.

Prediction: Colts 27, Chiefs 20