Why are KC Fans Down on Cassel?September 3rd, 2010 by Lee Eldridge
Did Matt Cassel run over your dog or something? Listening to talk radio and reading the blogs, I continue to be surprised at how down the KC fans are on Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel. Let’s try to put this into a little perspective. It was only a year and a half ago that ESPN was speculating that the Patriots might be forced to cut Tom Brady and keep Cassel for the betterment of the future of their team. And not only did new general manager Scott Pioli and the Chiefs want Cassel as their quarterback of the future, Denver’s new head coach Josh McDaniels (who had been Cassel’s offensive coordinator in New England) alienated quarterback Jay Cutler when he made a play to acquire Cassel from the Patriots.
Here are some facts to digest.
1. Cassel is still a very inexperienced quarterback. He played very little in college at USC, and basically has two years under his belt in the pros. He will suffer threw some growing pains. He takes too many sacks. And he’s a little slow through his progressions. He seems to be at his best in the hurry up offense when he’s more in rhythm with the passing game. There’s no reason to think that he won’t improve.
2. Last year Cassel was traded to KC and learned Chan Gailey’s offense during the offseason, only for Gailey to be fired right before the season began. Head coach Todd Haley completely revamped the offense WHILE Cassel was on the sidelines suffering through a preseason injury. Cassel and the rest of the offense started off very slowly last year as they attempted to digest and implement a new scheme.
3. The offensive line started poorly last year. They allowed 37 sacks in the first ten games (3.7/game). But over the last six games, they only allowed eight sacks (1.3/game). It would have been tough for any quarterback to be productive with that kind of pressure.
4. And not only was the offensive line playing poorly, Cassel had no help on offense. Larry Johnson was awful. The receivers dropped more balls than any other team in the league. The Chiefs were picking up every wide receiver available looking for some type of spark or consistency. It wasn’t until late in the season when Jamaal Charles got his shot to run the ball, and wide receiver Chris Chambers came onboard, that the Chiefs started to find some offensive production.
Now how about some historical perspective? In general, most quarterbacks struggle their first year with a new team. Cassel’s struggles last year should have been anticipated. Trent Green was one of the most productive quarterbacks in the league for several years, but have you all forgotten how bad he was in his first year in KC? Jason Whitlock renamed him Tr-INT. Here are Green’s stats from his first year in KC:
Completion Percentage: 56.6
QB Rating: 71.1
Now what were Cassel’s stats last year?
Completion Percentage: 55.0
QB Rating: 69.6
Pretty similar stats. Green played one more game than Cassel, and was in a pass happy offense. Green also played behind a better offensive line, and had Priest Holmes and Tony Gonzalez at his disposal.
Now let’s look at Green’s numbers from year two:
Completion Percentage: 61.1
QB Rating: 92.6
Will Cassel make that same leap that Green made in his second year in Kansas City? I don’t know. I’m not predicting that Cassel will be a Pro Bowl quarterback. But I see the tools. I like his leadership and mentality. His accuracy looks better this year already. And he looks like he’s got a pretty good supporting cast with an improved offensive line, and legitimate weapons with Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones, Dexter McCluster, Dwayne Bowe, Chris Chambers and Tony Moeaki. Let’s give this guy an opportunity to show what he can do before we run him out of town.