Matt Cassel takes a lot of sacks. In fact he takes the second amount of sacks, trailing only Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay. Cassel leads the league in fumbles. He has a lot of passes batted down, or, if we really want to pile on we have seen them bounce off of a defender's helmet without his arms an inch to get at the ball. He won't go through all his progressions and he likes to hurry passes which causes them to be off target and makes receivers catch them off balance.
However, when evaluating Cassel and looking for the traits necessary in a solid quarterback we can see that he possesses many of them, especially the mental and physical attributes. This is no doubt the reason Scott Pioli was eager to bring him to KC and had to fight off the coach who knows him best in Josh McDaniel. It's because Matt knows how to find an open receiver. It's because he has surprising mobility to go with a solid and prototypical frame. It's because he seldomly forces any throws and makes good decisions. His arm strength isn't the best as his long balls sail and fall short, but his toughness, confidence, and demeanor show that he is the type of guy who can lead a team week to week.
Talk to a scout and they will tell you that a young quarterback who fumbles a lot is not something to be scared of because that can be corrected. It's a high number of interceptions and forced fumbles that shows you the guy is only going to do it his way despite the coaches best efforts. A proper throwing motion, correcting fumbles, going through progressions, and learning to quickly scan the field are all things that can be coached and will only be improved upon with constant coaching and supervision. So Matt Cassel's struggles are really just based on a lack of coaching and focus on technique.
And that is what is so disappointing about Cassel's development (or lack of it) during this experimental season.
Simply put, the Chiefs have ignored the fact that they need a qualified Quarterback Coach for the young and relatively inexperienced QB they brought in to turn the franchise around. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have always had QB coaches. Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, Kurt Warner, Mark Sanchez all have quarterback coaches. It doesn't matter if they are experienced or rookies, there must be someone who keeps them fundamentally sound and helps to simplify everything they see on the field.
It is apparent that Haley is spread too thin. A lot of people knew Haley was spread too thin when he fired Chan Gailey before the season began and claimed the roles of Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator/Quarterback Coach. He did a good job with Kurt Warner of "keeping his foot on his throat" and resurrecting his career, but keep in mind that Warner had a career to begin with and it was a Super Bowl MVP career.
There are so many nuances to the game for a successful quarterback. In the Colts comeback over the Texans, Manning saw a linebacker over celebrating after hammering the RB. Without a huddle he got his players to the line and attacked that linebacker who had no focus on the upcoming play. Great quarterbacks look off the safety, baiting him to the wrong part of the field. Great quarterbacks read blitzes and have the exact play they want ready to go after the ball is snapped. Great quarterbacks learn to read all the little things and then love to exploit the defense and have as much fun doing it as Phillip Rivers did against the Chiefs last week.
Matt Cassel is clearly eager to learn these things and to become a top quarterback in the league. With as much discord and change that has happened throughout the season it's a wonder that he has had any success moving the ball, quite honestly. He is still a young and inexperienced quarterback who they are treating like a veteran. Once the team finds the stability, cohesion, and talent that only comes with time, Cassel will show everybody that he can be a good quarterback. To be a great quarterback, he is going to need someone to bond with and to work out the little kinks that Haley is too busy to work on. Maybe it's greedy to want a Quarterback Coach, maybe even an offensive coordinator to work side-by-side with is what he needs like Trent Green and Al Saunders.
So let's bring in Charlie Weis. Bring in more New England spin-offs, or Arizona connections, or someone we've never heard of, as long as they know what they're talking about and aren't responsible for every other position on the field. Promote the quality control coach, it doesn't matter, as long as we get Cassel working on the fundamentals and nuances of being a great quarterback and developing that extra sense that great quarterbacks are able to play with every week. In the meantime, we can hope that Haley secretly realizes this mistake and starts keeping an eye open for an offensive coordinator and a coach for the $63 million dollar man.