SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 25: Safety Eric Weddle #32 of the San Diego Chargers celebrates his interception of quarterback Matt Cassel #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs in the final minute during their NFL Game on September 25, 2011 at Qualcomm Stadium in San DIego, California. The Chargers went on to win the game 20-17. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
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Because in this K-Swiss advertisement he absolutely nails that phone, a perfect throw with a shoe. In last week's game with a football, supposedly intended for Dexter McCluster... not so much. It was, however, a perfect throw to the San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle for an interception.
There are really no excuses that you can make for Matt Cassel on that play. It was disgusting. The game situation was 1st and 10 with 1:08 left on the game clock, Chiefs down by three, and they needed to move the ball down the field quickly. The emotions were high after they had Phillip Rivers team facing 4th and inches in win mode, and the defense delivered with a inconceivable stop. Afterwards, the Kansas City Chiefs needed a hero, a player to go out there, strap on their cape, save the day, and put the season back on track with a tough divisional comeback win.
What the Chiefs got instead was Matt Cassel making one of the worst plays in the NFL this young season. It was a play that hurt, and one that fits in with the overall fan groin punch that has been the 2011 Kansas City Chiefs.
Now the Chiefs are 0-3, a complete reversal of last year when they started out a very promising 3-0. Spirits are down with the fans and the "Suck For Luck" campaign is chugging along full steam ahead.
Right or wrong, I have a theory on why Matt Cassel is playing so uninspired.
It is a pretty simple theory really. Matt Cassel has always been the underdog, and in 2011 K-Swiss championed him into something more than that, and he appears to have cracked under the pressure. Don't get me wrong, I am not blaming a shoe company for Matt Cassel's rough season. That would be ludicrous.
No, this is just me thinking that Matt Cassel couldn't mentally handle his success from 2010. We all watched him regress in 2009 after playing fairly well in New England during his breakout season. Now it appears history is going to repeat itself. It seems, every time people start saying Matt Cassel is going to be the man, he falls on his face.
Sure Matt Cassel has a 65.9 completion percentage, that is excellent indeed. The only problem with that number is he has only thrown the ball for 428 yards, at an abysmal 5.22 yards per pass average, thrown five interceptions and fumbled the ball twice. Even scrambling he can't get nothing done, he has one rushing attempt for a single yard and has taken five sacks which hints at his escapability being non-existent.
To me, the theory makes sense. In 2010, Matt Cassel went to the Pro Bowl, helped his team reach the playoffs and his inspired underdog play guided the team to their first AFC West divisional crown since 2003. Matt got the endorsements to go along with all of the pats on the back and was labeled the man in Kansas City. It seems it was just too much for the quarterback to handle mentally. If it is true, can the Chiefs afford to have a quarterback that can't handle being the man?
At this point, I am not sure what Chiefs fans would like to read about Matt Cassel or the team. Seriously, I don't want to bag on our quarterback. Yet, I also feel at this point no one wants to read my sunny Super Bowl predicting disposition on this team. So far, it has been a tumultuously hideous football season. One marred by severe injuries, terrible play calling, bad tackling, poor decisions and disturbing quarterback play.
In San Diego last week there were some positive signs. As a whole, the Kansas City Chiefs played better football (compared to the two previous games) against a team that didn't seem to be playing for the win. It was an opportunity that the Chiefs let pass them by, and it is incredibly disappointing that they couldn't take advantage of a Charger team that was playing an off game at home. There are not going to be very many times that the Chiefs face off against Phillip Rivers where he throws zero touchdowns and two interceptions.
So where are the Chiefs at now?
Now it is back to Arrowhead to face off against the equally 0-3 Minnesota Vikings for Kansas City. A team that can run the ball and stop the run. Yet, at the same time they can't pass the ball very well, or stop the pass. At least that is what their team rankings hint at anyway.
As far as a Chiefs victory Sunday is concerned, those rankings are scary. They might say that the Chiefs need to throw the ball in order to win against the Vikings. That places the hopes for a win firmly in the hands of Matt Cassel and the play calling team tomorrow. Following what we have witnessed the past three games, it is very difficult to envision a scenario where the Chiefs come out slinging the football around early in the game.
Last week I cringed when the first two plays of the game were runs up the gut to Thomas Jones and I feel the Chiefs are sadly going to do that again tomorrow. My question is why? Really, I don't see what Todd Haley and company are thinking when they call those plays early in the game. Where is the creativity? Do they seriously believe that they are going to fool anyone with those running plays? For me, this team has the ability to be a great football team and they are handcuffing themselves early in games with their mistakes and absurdly predictable play calling.
What a blind man can see: Keys to a Chiefs victory.
Screen passes - I love them, you love them, and we all know Priest Holmes definitely loved them. Now that that is established, the Chiefs have have to decrease all the screen passes. It has been fun, they can be exciting plays, but if that is your only offense, I am pretty sure the Vikings defense will see it coming from Minneapolis. Not only that, but Matt Cassel is horrible at disguising them. You can clearly see this on film, and I don't know how the Chiefs are missing this in the meeting room.
Throw the ball more than ten yards downfield - Do this early and do it often. Now I realize Jonathan Baldwin is not playing, but it doesn't matter. The Chiefs are paying Steve Breaston and Dwayne Bowe a lot of money to catch the ball -- throw the football. Do you know how many times Tom Brady has targeted just his top three receivers? 86 times. Do you know how many times Matt Cassel has targeted his entire team? 83 times. Only 23 of those passes were over 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. That total is insanely ridiculous considering the team has been outscored 109-27 in three games. For the love of Joe Montana, please throw the football Kansas City.
Turnovers - The Chiefs need to continue to improve in this area, against the Chargers they only gave up one turnover. This week let's make it zero. On the defensive side of the ball, the team must make those close plays. They played really well on defense considering the first two games and if they make a INT here and get a fumble there that they missed last week, they will be in good shape.
Demote Thomas Jones - Aside from reportedly being involved in breaking Jonathan Baldwin's thumb, Thomas Jones has not been very productive with a Larry Johnson-esque 2.6 yards per carry, yet he still has the most carries on the team with 28 (seems like 400.) I would like to see his carries turned into downfield passes to Bowe, carries for LeRon McClain and pitches to Dexter McCluster. If the Chiefs are determined to stick with Thomas Jones in the game plan, then the game plan needs to change in this fans opinion.
Contain Adrian Peterson - Easier said then done, but the Chiefs did well against the run last week. If they can limit the big plays and rushing first downs, then obviously they will have a good shot at winning this game.
Crowd Noise - If the Chiefs get down early and the 12th man starts booing the team, then it will probably be a long day at Arrowhead. However, if the crowd can stay in this game and support the defense, then the Chiefs have a good shot at a victory. After all, both of these teams are winless, so someone has to win and no one likes a tie (0-3-1 just looks pathetic.)