Fix the Quarterback, Chiefs Face TexansOctober 14th, 2010 by Lee Eldridge
Fixing 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.
On 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