The Dirty Little Rumors
Whenever there is a dirty little rumor floating around about someone you know, there is cause for concern. You see, there is usually nothing solid to back up a rumor when you hear it. You usually get it 2nd, 3rd, 4th, even 5th hand and by then it can be as distorted as a game of telephone played in a classroom of first-graders. Sometimes the rumor turns out to be pure speculation, other times, a flat out lie. Then, every so often, you hear a rumor and it turns out to be true. Bulls eye.
Right now, there is a dirty little rumor going around about Matt Cassel. I’m hearing that the only reason Matt Cassel performed well last year was because he was playing in New England and throwing the ball to Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Hmmm…could it be true?
It’s possible. The Pats had a soft schedule and Cassel had studs to throw the ball to. The inspiration for this column came from our old friend Jason Whitlock. Let me get one thing straight before I dive into this. I like Whitlock. I like his writing. I usually find it entertaining and sometimes very funny. I can do this because I understand what Jason Whitlock is doing and I think if a lot of his readers understood Whitlock better, they would enjoy his writing more. Whitlock is writing commentary. His stuff isn’t news. It is actually as far from news as you can get. In many instances, it probably isn’t even his actual opinion. His entire column is about rocking the boat and writing something you might not expect him to write. Don’t be surprised if during training camp he comes out with an article about how Tyler Thigpen has changed his mind and is blowing up at camp. That Thiggy is out throwing Cassel and should win the starting job. This is what Whitlock gets paid to do. Sometimes he makes good points, sometimes he spouts rubbish. He is paid to be entertaining and to stir the pot. He is the high school gossip queen and he knows it.
Which brings us back to the rumor he is spinning in his latest column about Matt Cassel. Say what you want about Whitlock’s opinion on this but he raises an interesting question. Was it Cassel or was it Moss and Welker?
Yesterday I sat down and watched the Chiefs/ Pats game from last season. When you re-watch that game you can tell early on that the Chiefs were in trouble. The only reason the weren’t down more points when Brady went out was because of a couple bone head New England errors. There was the fumble Moss dropped all on his own the play Brady went out. There was the Surtain strip on Welker. There were a few dropped passes that killed drives. Herm also slowed down the slaughter by running the ball nonstop up the middle and then having Croyle turn and throw the ball sideways or backward on 3rd down and 4. This used up considerable clock. When Herm did let Brodie throw down field he made a couple of nice passes for first downs. Then, however, it was right back to LJ’s 2 yards per carry.
When Cassel came in, he had to be nervous as hell. The Pats were on their own 2-yard line. They tried to get some breathing room but uncharacteristically, the Chiefs performed and stuffed them twice, nearly getting a safety. Forced to throw, this young guy, who hadn’t started a game in years, who hadn’t had any meaningful NFL game experience, stood in his own end zone and threw a pinpoint pass to Randy Moss. Moss, by the way, was pretty well covered by Patrick Surtain. Cassel, however, threw the ball so fast that it was in Moss’s hands before Surtain even knew what had happened. If you watch the tape, you’ll see that Moss does nothing fancy. He just takes off. Gets about half a step on Surtain, McGraw was late getting over because he had to finished double bagging Mrs. Bisman’s groceries, and the ball drops right into his hands. Cassel threw the ball so fast that you actually see Surtain looking around up in the air for it AFTER Moss had caught it and started running away. The ball dropped perfectly over Moss’s right shoulder and the veteran CB didn’t even see it. Later on that drive, Cassel put the ball high in the back of the end zone where only Moss could go up and gets it and of course, he did. I watched that clip 5 times because it reminded me so much of catches I have seen another receiver make a lot of. Dwayne Bowe.
Randy Moss didn’t get New England out of that jam on the 2-yard line. Matt Cassel did. The kids poise in that situation alone, was remarkable. Cassel continued to show remarkable poise all season. They kept the rains pretty tight on Cassel and he really didn’t start racking up big yards until week 11 when he went off on the Jets and threw for over 400 yards. He backed it up with another 400-yard performance the following week, on the road, in Miami. He then got a quick reality check in when Pittsburgh came to town. I think we can all agree though, Pittsburgh’s D was totally sick and Cassel was pretty much a rookie.
A ROOKIE. I don’t care what receivers you have, Cassel’s play was remarkable. I often here people say that "Cassel stepped into the best offense ever so his performance wasn’t as impressive, considering the team was undefeated the year before." This is bonkers. The team, the year before, had a freak out season. Pretty much the best offensive season EVER. They also had a veteran, first ballot hall of fame QB leading them. I know they are no Pats but just ask the Bengals how important it is to have a good QB instead of some scrub. Ask the Browns, who had ZERO offense after Quinn and Anderson went down. They weren’t nearly as miserable before their QB’s were hurt.
To have expected Cassel to lead the Pats to a 15-1 or 16-0 record is crazy talk. The thing is, 12 or 13 wins he probably could have pulled. He started off a little slow, which is understandable considering his lack of playing time. Would the Pats have duplicated their previous season if Brady stayed healthy? Maybe, but I doubt it. What the Pats did in 2007 was crazier than Jesus riding a dinosaur. I guess we will find out this year.
I am not saying Moss and Welker didn’t help Matt Cassel out. Of course they did, just like they helped Tom Brady out. But Cassel manned up. In those games he threw for over 400 yards he could have also thrown 3 picks ala Bret Favre. He didn’t. He didn’t sabotage games and he did much more than manage them for a good team.
Whether his poise and success in New England will translate to the Kansas City Chiefs is anybody’s guess. To believe Cassel did it all by himself in New England is silly but to believe that all of his success in New England came because of a couple of receivers or a mad scientist head coach is sort of silly as well.
The other dirty little rumor going around about the Chiefs in the national sports media is that they aren't ready to win. They don't have enough pieces in place to win now.
D-Bowe nearly had a 1000 yards receiving in his first season. He DID have 1000 yards last year, despite the QB cluster F&^K the Chiefs had going on half the season. As if this wasn’t impressive enough, Bowe did this with HERM EDWARDS as the coach! There was a lot of conservative play calling and poor WR development in the Herm Edwards era. Now, Bowe will hopefully have continuity at the QB position and a WR guru as his head coach! If there is one thing I am certain of, it’s that D-Bowe will have a big year of yards and TD’s. This being his third season, combined with good coaching, the outlook is good.
What would you say Cassel is good for, points wise? Many of us think Cassel will help us score more points than the Thiggy/Huard/Croyle/That guy who threw a pass in the Raiders fiasco/ combination. Most also agree that Haley’s and Gailey will be a much better tandem than Herm holding a gun to Chan’s head and telling him to run up the middle. Let’s say Cassel is good for 4 points a game and Gailey/Haley working together are good for 3. That is an extra TD a game.
How would this have helped us last year?
The Chiefs would have won;
6 win swing
The Chiefs would have TIED:
Denver (at mile high)
If the Chiefs lose all of those over time games, they still would have finished 6-10.
If they won all of them? Yep. 9-7.
7 measly points a game gets them 4 more wins and 3 OT games. Some luck on the coin tosses in OT and the Chiefs could have WON the division!
Here is something that really gave me a headache. If the Chiefs lost all three of our hypothetical OT games, and finished 6-10, in this scenario, the mighty Chargers would have finished 6-10 and the Broncos would have finished 7-9 and won the division!
I get into all these hypothetical to show that a little can mean a lot in the NFL. I haven’t even touched on the Defense. Unless the new system turns out to be a total disaster the Chiefs will almost certainly be better on defense next year. Even if the Chiefs are about the same on D, offensive improvement will hopefully eat up more clock and make the defenses job easier.
So don’t believe all the Dirty Little Rumors you hear people telling you about Matt Cassel or the Chiefs. Football is a game of inches and I think the new regime/players/system/attitude is good for 7 more points a game and a possible playoff run!
I am not saying the Chiefs are going to make a Super Bowl run here...but 9-7 and the playoffs is not far fetched at all. Then again, Todd Haley has some expierence making a Super Bowl run with a 9-7 team...so does Clancy Pendergast. Both, now Chiefs.
Here’s hoping I’m not the one spreading rumors.