Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback Spotlight: Matt Cassel

SEATTLE - NOVEMBER 28: Quarterback Matt Cassel #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs looks downfield as Thomas Jones #20 blocks against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on November 28 2010 in Seattle Washington. The Chiefs defeated the Seahawks 42-24. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Every fan knows that the quarterback position is one of key importance when thinking about a playoff run.  If you don't have a good one then you're not going to get very far.

So is Matt Cassel a good quarterback?

There have been many debates between Chiefs fans about the effectiveness of Matt Cassel but the past couple of weeks have started to erase some of those that have questioned Matt (Joel article)Even some of my own doubts about Matt Cassel's limitations have been proven wrong these last two games....and not just because he passed for more yards.

If you haven't noticed, Matt is becoming more comfortable in the Weis/Halley offense.  He has started to improve:

  • His calmness in the pocket.
  • His recognition of when to throw the ball away.
  • His understanding and confidence in his receivers.
  • His ability to block out the pass rush and keep his eyes down field.

Let's break down Matt Cassel and the KC passing attack.

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Matt Cassel
# INTs
Quarterback Ratings Each Game
Cassel_passing_medium

 

 

4



SDie
Clev. San F.
Indy Houst
QB Rating
68.0 46.1 111.7 70.5 122.9

Jac. Buff. Oak Denv. Arizona Seattle
QB Rating 144.0 84.1 82.6 116.0 115.5 129.3

Weakness after reviewing the tape:

  1. Matt has been erratic from time to time with his mechanics, particularly his release point.
  2. Cassel can be prone to distraction when defenders put pressure on him.  However, the last couple of games have shown differently.  Time will tell if Matt is truly starting to feel comfortable in the pocket and able to block out distractions.
  3. Early in the season Matt appeared uncomfortable in the pocket when he was forced to move.  The natural progression for a QB is first stepping forward then stepping to the right or left.  At the beginning of the season Cassel appeared to lose focus on many occasions that he had to move up or to one side or another.
  4. Matt sometimes has a difficult time with the touch pass, particularly on intermediate and long routes.  He is much more accurate when he is allowed to step up and throw a straight ball.
  5. In the past Cassel has been known to hold the ball to long.  A perfect microcosm is the Arizona game in which he was sacked 3 times in the first half after scrambling from the pocket. In the second half he had similar pressure but threw the ball away twice and was sacked 0 times.
  6. From time to time Matt has the tendency to stare down his receiver.

 


Matt Cassel's Season Tendencies Chart

LEFT DEEP

MIDDLE DEEP

RIGHT DEEP

Plays: 23

NFL Rank Atts: 22nd

Avg Gain: 8.0

Plays: 18

NFL Rank Atts: 20th

Avg Gain:  16.4

Plays: 29

NFL Rank Atts: 12th

Avg Gain: 7.3
LEFT SHORT

MIDDLE SHORT
RIGHT SHORT

Plays: 97

NFL Rank Atts:  24th

Avg Gain: 6.1

Plays: 49

NFL Rank Atts:  29th

Avg Gain: 8.2

Plays: 103

NFL Rank Atts: 29th

Avg Gain: 6.5


Cassel's Passing Zone Frequency Chart


Cassel Frequency Chart Notes:

  • By looking at the chart above it can be seen that the Chiefs don't ask Cassel to throw the ball a lot.  Matt is consistently ranked in the 20's in pass attempts to each zone. 
  • The one zone Matt appears to throw to the most is short left and deep right.  That is interesting because as you will see in the chart below, Cassel doesn't have as good of a completion percetage when going left short. 
  • Interestingly enough, the Chiefs are ranked 7th in the NFL (stat not shown above) in production when going deep middle.  This success being a product of scoring strikes to Bowe and Moeaki.

Matt Cassel's Completion % By Zone:

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Matt Cassel Completion % Notes:

  • By looking at the chart above we can see that Cassel does a good job when throwing the ball short.  He consistently has a completion percentage in the 60's or 70's.
  • Matt's problems start when he is asked to throw the ball long.  Cassel is ranked 22nd in the NFL in completion percentage when throwing the ball deep right and 24th in the NFL when throwing the ball deep left.
  • It would appear that Matt is less accurate when throwing the ball to the left side of the field.  He only ranks 21st in accuracy when going short left and 24st when going deep left.

 

Matt Cassel vs the 5+ Rush (Seattle game only):

  • When the other team sends 5 or more defenders Matt Cassel's most often used outlet zone in the Seattle game was short right.  He threw the ball short right 8 times and completed 50% of them. 
  • By the looks of it, most of Matt's hot routes during the Seattle game were short patterns.  He only attempted one deep pass when the defenders came with 5 or more rushers.

 

Matt Cassel Stats vs Defense

Week Team D.Rank yds
1
San Diego
2nd 68
2. Cleveland 19th 176
3. San Francisco
17th 250
4 Bye
--- ---
5. Indianapolis
6th 156
6 Houston 31st
201
7. Jacksonville 27th 193
8. Buffalo 11th 152
9. Oakland 5th
216
10. Denver 20th
469
9. Arizona 28th
193
10. Seattle 30th
233

 

 

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After looking at all the stats it can be concluded that the Matt Cassel of 2010 is a work in progress.  He has come a long way from the quarterback he was at the beginning of the season when his performance was more erratic.

The encouraging part about Matt Cassel is not the numbers, not the overall rankings, it is the fact that he is doing the little things better.  He looks more comfortable in the pocket, he is less distracted by the rush, his timing with his receivers has improved.  Matt Cassel is actually getting better...it's not a stats trick.

In the end, those little things will mean more wins for the Kansas City Chiefs.

 

 

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Click On "Bewsaf Past Posts" for more past articles

*Chiefs vs Seahawks: Breaking Down The O-Line Tape *KC Chiefs vs Seahawks: Analyzing Seatle's Football Tendencies

*2010 NFL Stats: A Look At Time Of Possession After 4 Weeks

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