I know, I know. I didn't want to write it as much as you didn't want to see it posted. I think we've all come to terms with the fact that we each love our beloved Chiefs and want what's best for the team. I think we all understand that we'll have to agree to disagree with our positions on Cassel.
Let me say this; I don't care how much you may dislike Cassel, as a player, I know that we ALL hope and pray that he can be the next Brady or even the next Flacco because if he can be that, then that's leaves us with one less position to have to address.
What I'm going to say is my own opinion on Cassel from what I HAVE SEEN! I'm not an expert on QB play and I don't pretend to know the inner workings of NFL QB coaching. All I have is what many of us have, a passion for all things NFL and in particular the QB position.
I have been a fan long enough to know that stats will only ever tell the story you want them to and are objective only from the perspective of the author and like minded readers. So, you won't see any stats on this post to either support or 'bash' Cassel. What I will humbly submit are my observations of game tape and I ask that you, the reader take them for what their worth: one passionate fan's opinion.
Cassel will never be more than an average (at best) NFL QB unless he undergoes a monumental change in the way he approaches the game mentally.
1) Cassel regulary locks onto his primary receiver. We've all seen this on several occasions every game. Obviously, locking onto the primary sets the QB up for failure effectively takes that receiver out of the play. In and of itself, that's bad but when you pair that with...
2) Cassel takes waaaaay too long to come off his primary read before he progresses to his secondary read and beyond. This gives the impression that he's hanging on to the ball too long, but the real effect of this is...
3) By the time he's comes off the primary read and begins to progress through his reads, he has (in effect) thrown the timing with his receivers off so bad that they actually run themselves into coverage. Which makes it look like...
4) The offense is simplified and he's being asked to make minimal reads. In truth, he's not being asked that at all. I would say the Cassel has 3-4 receivers out on patterns on any given passing play. So, then why does it look like he's so quick to dump the ball off in the short area?
5) As I said, he's so late coming off his primary read that his secondary is now blanketed and he doesn't have the arm or accuracy to try to fit the ball into a tight window to even give his secondary receiver a chance to make a play. The result: it looks like he makes his primary read, barely even bats an eye to his secondary read and quickly dumps the ball short.
All the reasons above are enough to convince me about my feelings on Cassel. But what I found out next really sealed the deal for me.
Cassel doesn't have the arm strength or accuracy to play 'read-and-react' football, but lacks the mental make up to 'cerebral' football. Let me define what I mean by read-and-react. The primary receiver is called to run a slant or an out, depending on how the corner is playing him. For this example, we'll assume the corner is playing bump and shades him to the inside. This calls for the primary to run a slant, which he does. But now lets say that the weakside LB drops into short zone coverage with a safety playing 15 yards in mid field. Looking at this example, the primary would not have been an option as soon as the QB read bump and run and then saw the LB on that side drop back as the ball was hiked (having already seen where the safety was in pre-snap). So, the QB who plays read-and-react, would now be forced to dump his initial read and move on. IF the QB didn't lock on to his primary, waiting for him to come open, he would have progressed through his reads just fine. But if he locks onto his receiver or waits for him to come open, then he's now forced to either make a throw in a tight spot to either his primary or secondary receiver (remember that by now, the secondary receiver has either run himself into coverage or the secondary coverage has picked him up). The other option is to dump it off or throw it away. Since Cassel doesn't have elite arm strength, he dumps off to the backs or tightends.
Now, let me describe the Cerebral style of play. Let me take you to one of Steve Young's most famous TD passes. Forgive me, but it's late and I have a 2 year old and a 1 year old. Not much sleep in this household. As such, I'm not going to research this specific play. However, it's in a playoff game against Green Bay. Last second to win the game. He takes the snap. Center steps on his foot and he almost falls. He gathers himself, throws as he's hit for a TD to T.O. After the game, Young admits that he never even saw T.O. He said he threw it to a spot where he thought T.O. would be! This is the essence of Cerebral QB play! Young made his pre-snap read. Then made the primary read at the snap and instantly felt that he knew how the defense was playing his receivers. ON JUST HIS PRIMARY READ ALONE!! In other words, he saw what a defender was doing to his primary and he was able to deduce the rest of the coverage and throw the ball to the next logical spot.
Amazing! It's what the elite in this league do. It doesn't require a cannon arm or pinpoint accuracy and it allows your entire offense a much greater margin for error and, therefore the entire team. Your QB can 'see things in coverage that others dont'.
I'm convicned that Cassel is a read-and-react type of QB. Nothing wrong with that. Marino, Elway, Fouts and tons more where like that. The difference is they had the arm strength to pull it off and didn't lock onto their receivers. Cassel doesn't have the luxory of a Marino arm AND he routinely locks onto his receivers.
Lastly, he doesn't process information fast enough. This might be something that he may be able to fix with time as the game 'slows down for him' (and he has to address his feet). But the pairing of these things puts a really low ceiling on the guy and makes him no more than an average QB at best.
I like the guy. His moxie, work ethic, heart etc... But these aren't things that can be easily remedied (if at all). So it comes to this; the front office has to decide on the long term identity of this team. Are they going to continue to be a run heavy team that plays a bend-but-dont-break defense (not many have ever won a SB with that combo and remember that Crennel has never had a dominating defense. All have been bend-but-dont-break) and asks minimal contributions from their QB? Do they go in a different direction at QB and try to give themselves a greater margin for error? Or do they try to build a truly dominating defense and improve their running game? I know where I stand and I think you do too. Thankfully, the only opinions that matter are Haley's and Pioli's. I have full faith that they'll figure it out.