Crap, another Matt Cassel post! I actually dislike myself a little right now... But I do have an interesting theory. Notice how I lured you in by not mentioning his name in the title? Did I mention I'm a quarter Japanese? We're sneaky like that...
Remember when Cassel had a nice game against the Houston Texans, and I posted this, saying that he had a big chance against the Jaguars to have two consecutive good games for the first time as a Chief? If you do, I can honestly say that you maybe need more in your life (since you're remembering a blog written weeks ago). But anyways...
Cassel went out and had (statistically) his most efficient game of the season that week, completing 13 of 18 passes for 193 yards and a couple of TD's with no picks. So naturally, I said
In fact, from the Houston game until present he's looked pretty good statistically. This is a nice stat line through 6 games...
116 of 190 passes completed (61%, passing Joel's QB litmus test)
Not bad, right? Especially considering the fact that we're all of a sudden giving up more sacks (13 in that 6 game span after only 2 in the first 3 games).
The problem is we all know that while figures don't lie, they certainly don't tell the whole story. For example...
And Matt Cassel's stats are definitely not telling the whole story about him. Because if they were, one would imagine we wouldn't be looking back at our losses and throwing a lot of blame on him. We'd be saying, "Oh poor Matt, he's got no help!" Instead, after our losses it's been more like, "Matt Cassel is a big part of the problem!"
Now don't get me wrong, I actually side with the "non-stats" group to a certain extent. I believe Cassel has had a hand in all of our losses (a big hand in some cases). It comes with the territory of being a quarterback in the NFL. You have to shoulder the blame. And any one of us could point out specific bad throws and bad plays that Cassel has made in times where we could've really, really used the points.
JComp gave me a hard time for "sitting on the fence" when it comes to Cassel. And he's right, I've been spending most of my time in this position when it comes to him.
I mean, look at the arguments from either side....
Apologists/"Kool-Aid Drinkers" side
-He's having a very good season statistically
-He's been let down by his receivers in crucial moments (IND, OAK)
-The run game abandoned him for the most part in our last two losses
-The defense has let him down in several of our losses (HOU, OAK) after he threw TD passes to get us the lead
-The O-line, after a solid start, is looking shaky
-The playcalling hasn't asked him to do much and at times has been pretty atrocious (this actually is on both sides, you'll see...)
-He's missing one of his more dynamic weapons in Dexter McCluster
-His deep ball is suspect at best, and arguably nonexistent
-He struggles with accuracy on some easy throws and has killed drives because of it
-He doesn't show the arm strength to "zip" the ball into a tight spot
-He holds the ball too long
-He doesn't seem to check down from his primary receiver (and not quickly enough when he does)
-He doesn't perform well until the pressure is off (ala the Denver game)
-The coaches don't seem to trust him (this is the chicken-and-egg argument. Is the playcalling holding Cassel back or is Cassel holding the playcalling back?)
-He just isn't a QB that seems capable of putting our offense on his shoulders when we're having problems.
See what I mean? Basically I end up back on that stupid fence, because both sides make compelling arguments.
So here's the good news from our utter destruction in Denver, at least from my point of view.
Matt Cassel threw for 469 yards and 4 TD's with no picks while completing 62% of his passes.
"But MN, that was garbage time! They were playing a soft D to avoid giving up big plays! Those stats mean nothing!"
Well, like any good fence-straddler, I both agree and disagree with that statement. Do those stats mean nearly as much as they would in a win, against a team playing a more normal defense? No, not even close. But do they mean nothing? Well, no.
Remember our blowout losses last year (we had more than a few, in case you've forgotten)? It can easily be argued that our games against Eagles, Giants, Chargers (both times), and the Broncos (first game) were all blowouts. We got beaten soundly in every one of those games and were down big by halftime in all of them.
So what, you ask? Well, look at the stats Cassel put up in those games. In none of them did he post a QB rating of over 80 and in none of them did he have even 200 yards passing. So in none of those games did he even have decent "garbage time" stats. He was actually pretty horrendous throughout in all of them.
So I'll finally get to the point. Matt Cassel was asked to throw the ball in multiple games last year while we were far, far behind (except the infamous "let's keep running 2.7" Eagles game), and he did absolutely nothing of note in those games. This year, he actually came out and tossed the ball all over the field. The game was way out of reach, I know. There was basically no pressure on him, I know. And they were playing soft defense, I know. But all those apply to our blowouts last year in which he just flat-out couldn't get anything going, regardless of those circumstances.
So for me, I'm wondering if Bill Williamson isn't right (for a change). Perhaps seeing Cassel toss the ball all over will cause Weis and Haley to start throwing the ball more aggressively to start the game. Perhaps Cassel will come out on fire against a bad Arizona Cardinals team and make us start to think, "Hey... Wait a minute here."
Cassel was put in a position where he had to throw the ball when the defense knew he was going to throw. And he did a pretty good job in that situation. Maybe, just MAYBE that can be a stepping stone into us having a decent passing game.
Let's face it, until now, Haley's been pretty clear that their major focus in the passing game has been to not make mistakes. Maybe what Cassel needs is to have the reins loosened a little bit. He seems to play much better when he feels more "free" to make plays. I say give him a shot. What's the worst that could happen, he fails? Well, then, back to our super-conservative playcalling and let's look for a franchise QB in the draft.
That's about the one positive I see coming from that Denver game. It may have given the coaches the confidence in Cassel to open things up. I know it's a long shot, but hey, any shot is better than none right? Oh BTW I'm posting this picture again.
For no other reason than to help us all realize that as bad as it is watching our team get smoked, there are a few situations what would suck a whole lot more.