The Chiefs must set Cassel up for success for 2010. They have to give him every opportunity to succeed and allow him to show us that he was the QB that we traded for. The NFL is a QB driven league. If your signal caller is struggling, your franchise is most likely struggling. We can not expect Matt to turn chicken shit into chicken salad for the 2010 season. Psychologically, Cassel needs to improve from last year to erase any self doubts he has in himself, let alone the fans. Lets look how the Chiefs have helped Cassel this offseason and what else they need to do in order for him to be successful after the jump.
We can pretty much put a checkmark in this slot as the hiring of Weis was huge for Cassel's development. Cassel didn't even have a QB coach last year. Now he will have a guy that developed one of the best QBs of all time in Tom Brady. Cassel is going to be able to better disect defenses and will feel more comfortable going through his progressions.
The offensive line gave up 45 sacks last year. That was 3rd worse in franchise history. No QB can thrive in that enviroment, not even Peyton freaking Manning. Not only did Albert stuggle at the beginning of the year, but the interior pass protection was completely inept. Having pressure up the middle completely disrupts a QBs flow as he is flushed from the pocket. I think Albert may have proven himself worthy of a 3rd year as our starting LT as he gave up zero sacks in the last 6 games and 2 of those games was against one the best pass rushers in Dummerville. By coming into the season more aware of the blocking scheme and a comfortable playing weight, he should become a great blind side protector for Matt.
The rest of the offensive line, however, was mediocre to god awful. And many of the players that started last season don't have much upside and we shouldn't expect them to all of a sudden break out. The Chiefs have to start a new C, G, and T by the start of the season. The Chiefs solved one of those spots by signing Lilja who is one of the best zone blocking pass protectors in the game. The next biggest need is a center. I think the Chiefs should target Matt Tennant out of Boston College in the 3rd round. (to read a players scouting report, click on their name) He looks tailor made to fit in our zone blocking scheme and would be a great signal caller for our line. The right tackle spot should be upgraded as well. We cannot be content by assuming O'Callaghan is the starter. He doesn't have much upside, and although he preformed OK, it doesn't mean we shouldn't upgrade the position. Not to mention, if Albert goes down I don't think we have a backup LT on the squad. That could ruin our season. My vote is for Kyle Calloway out of Iowa. He looks like a solid RT prospect and played some LT for the Hawkeyes. If Albert goes down he could swing to the left while O'Callaghan comes in at RT. I think we should trade DJ to the Falcons for their 3rd rounder and secure Calloway.
Since Lilja is more likely to be a part of the Chiefs for the long haul, I think moving Waters to RG makes sense. He would be a perfect stop gap for that spot and Lilja could play at his more natural spot. I think this line would be above average and over time as they gel could be one of the leagues better offensive lines. Hopefully, with these moves we won't have to see anymore bullshit pictures like this one below.
What was the smart ass comment all the commentators were making when Cassel got traded to KC? Uhh, how is going to survive without Moss and Welker? Well, they may have had a point. I don't have to tell you guys that we set a league record for dropped passes, you already know. Not to mention Cassel was without Chambers for half of the year because he hadn't been released yet and D Bowe was absent for 4 games because of his suspension. Cassel never really had a chance to develop a good relationship with these two guys. I think they will be a good receiving tandem for Matt as they will have a full offseason and preseason to get on the same page. However, Matt is going to need more weapons.
The two biggest holes in the passing game right now is a pass catching TE and a reliable slot receiver. These are the safety valve options for a QB. Cassel has been criticized for holding on to the ball too long. A big reason for that is because our WRs couldn't get open. By having two more weapons, as well as better protection, Cassel will have greater options to choose from. I would like to see the Chiefs take Aaron Hernandez with their 2a pick. He is a fast (4.5 forty) TE out of Florida. He would be able to spilt the seam of the defense and could give us big chunks of yards after the catch. Watch this Pass. That is what I am envisioning for Hernandez. He would compliment Cassel's brilliant touch pass to a tee. He is not much of a blocker, but I think we have two capable blocking TEs in Cottam and Pope.
When I was looking for a slot receiver I wanted three qualities. One, can he catch the damn ball! Two, does he run crisp routes? Three, can he kill two birds with one stone by doubling as a punt returner? I think I found our guy in Andre Roberts of the Citadel. Read his scouting report. This is exactly the kid we want on our team and I would take him with our 2b pick. I also like the signing of Jerheme Urban. I think he is exactly what you want in a 4th WR. A guy who makes in the NFL on heart alone. Unselfish, hard worker, that will come through for you. If we make these moves Cassel is going to be the talk of the league.
A running game is a QBs best friend. Thank god we have one established already and don't have sweat beads over it. Charles and Jones are going to tear it up next year. Charles ceiling is through the roof right now and I can only imagine how good he will be come the season opener. Jones was an amazing signing and will provide a different dynamic to the run game by bringing a little more power, but not conceding in any big play ability. If we go offense heavy like in my scenario, we could be in the top 5.
Of course that is only one side of the ball and we can't forget the defense. I know it seems like all of these moves have pretty much shoved the D to the side, but like the title says: as Cassel goes, so goes the Chiefs. But, the defense will influence Cassel as well. By keeping the opposing team at bay it will take pressure off of Cassel and not force him to think he has win the game all by himself. I think the most impactful move we can make for our defense is taking Dan Williams with the 5th pick. He plays the most important position on our defense and will help in the first step of becoming good, and that is stopping the run. Seriously consider this. He is the only player we can take at 5 (assuming Suh is off the board) that can elevate the play of the ten other guys on the field. Its not like Williams is some scrub we are reaching for. He had a very productive year in the SEC. He has the perfect size at 6'2", 327 lbs. He is athletic and is the only NT in this class that has preformed splash plays on a semi-regular basis. His only knock is consistency and good coaching should cure that. Cody (who may not fall to 2a) has concerns with weight, stamina and lateral movement. Thomas had hardly any production in college. Troup is a project, who is a little undersized for the position. If I'm Pioli, I'm not going into the season with questions at the NT position. I think it would be the correct pick.
Now a lot of you might be pissed that I ignored the defense with the exception of a reach for Williams with the 5th pick. But, our number one priority is to ensure Matt is successul. At all reasonable cost. He is too important to the franchise to half ass getting talent around him. And with our defensive line solidified its not like our back 8 is that bad. We have two up and coming stars in Hali and Flowers. At the other 6 positions we have decent stop gaps. And not to mention we have 4 more draft picks. We can get a steals like TJ Ward (S, Oregon) and Angerer (ILB, Iowa). The defense is going to be a work in progress no matter what we do this offseason. Talent on that side of the ball takes more time to develop. And how are we going to judge our in house talent if they don't have a key piece (NT) to see how everything else is functioning. With the offense set we can turn our focus to the back 8 and what holes need to be filled for future offseasons. Here is to Matt Cassel having a fantasic season. To further solidify my arguments and to soften some harsh criticism coming my way, here is a picture of Lucy Pinder.