I've said it more than a few times around here - Matt Cassel says all the right things. He's young and one of the most publicly recognizable figures in Kansas City. Yet, he still assumes a business-like approach to all football-related tasks.
After his first win as the starting quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs, what did he do? Handed out praise to his teammates and deflected any credit for the victory.
"Defense did well," he said, "and special teams came through in a big way today."
And the offense? "...we could do better."
Cassel has only been in Kansas City for seven months so he hasn't experienced all the heart-breaking ways the Chiefs have found to lose. He wasn't there for the Jets comeback last season or the Chargers near-miracle come-from-behind victory either. But he was here for the Cowboys game last week, and watched on the sidelines as the Chiefs couldn't capitalize on a chance to beat the Ravens in week one.
That's why he wanted to be absolutely, positively sure that the game was in hand before he felt he could claim his first victory as the starting quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs.
"I think when I called victory formation, everyone was like alright," he said smiling. "We took a breath, no pressure, and we were excited about it. It's a big win for this team and this organization. It's the first win for Coach Haley as a head coach and there's been a lot of change.
"But this is definitely a special day."
Special indeed. So special, in fact, that the players gave Haley a Gatorade bath (no matter how the coach felt about it).
"It was great and exciting for everybody," Cassel continued. "Any time you win, the bumps and bruises don't hurt as much. There's a lot of smiling faces and a lot of excitement and a lot of yelling."
Those bumps and bruises he talks about? They should be plentiful. Cassel was sacked five times including one from the $100 million man, Albert Haynesworth.
"His helmet landed right in the middle of my chest and knocked the breath out of me," Cassel told us. "It stung me so I was happy to get up after that one and catch my breath."
Cassel got up after each sack and ultimately completed 17 of his 32 pass attempts for 186 yards.
This is the Chiefs first victory since November of 2008, some 11 months ago. It's likely not the beginning of a playoff push or some long winning streak but it's validation that the team is capable of securing victory.
"You play the game to win," he said in an unintentional Hermism, "so anytime you start the season like we did, it's obviously unexpected and something we weren't anticipating, but to rebound now and get a victory is big for us. Hopefully we can build on that."
Building on this victory, or the last loss, or the most recent practice - whatever it is - that's the attitude in the locker room. I believe many of the players I've talked to have bought in to Haley's assertion that you've just gotta get a little better each day. One veteran hold-over from the previous regime told me the team hasn't had a clear-cut leader like Cassel since Trent Green went down with an injury in week one a few years back. It's a hard sell, especially to a team and a city that's become conditioned to expect the losing.
"I think each week we learn something about our team," Cassel said, "and in the past five games we've been able to build on things we've done well and fix things we haven't done so well.
"You work up to a victory."