And we've finally hit that point. The point where it's time to say enough is enough.
That was embarrassing. Humiliating. Completely ridiculous. I said last week that I wouldn't be surprised if the Chiefs got blown out by Denver, and I wasn't. That says volumes about where the Chiefs are at as a team. The fact that the Broncos ran all over the Chiefs and destroyed them at home SHOULD be surprising, and it's not.
I was going to write another cutesy letter to Matt Cassel and break up with him then and there, but at this point I don't see the need. He'll figure it out when I don't call, write, or show up at the New England game. It's over.
There are other issues with this team besides, quarterback, though. And I want to talk about them all. Space permitting, I'm going to just randomly go from one issue to the next. Who is to blame, and what should the goal from here on out be?
The nail in Cassel's coffin
Frankly, I would imagine that Cassel is sunk. It's over. The guy isn't a franchise quarter, he isn't a game manager quarterback, and he isn't a starting quarterback for a good NFL team. I've seen enough.
However, I'm sure there are some out there who will say it's on the offensive line (and hey, they've been playing pretty crappy) or the coaching (again, a terrible job being done). People are going to say (and some have) that no quarterback could succeed under the circumstances Cassel's been thrown into.
To that I say this... Yes, our offensive line isn't playing well. But you know what? They've been better than Cassel. There have been multiple times in every game in which Cassel has received enough protection for a good quarterback to make a play. And he hasn't. Offensive line is important but until I see a line as bad as the one Houston had a few years back, I'm done using that excuse for Cassel.
My argument to any Cassel apologist consists of three names: Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston, Jonathan Baldwin. That's a good receiver group. There's great overall talent in Bowe, a quick guy with great hands in Breaston, and a huge deep threat with Baldwin. A good quarterback would look at least all right with those guys. And Cassel hasn't looked anywhere approaching "all right." He's been bad. Many times he's looked terrible even when given time to throw, which totally belies the theory that it's all on the line.
Cassel should be done, and I believe we'll see proof against the Patriots if he doesn't play. If Tyler Palko or Ricky Stanzi don't look WORSE out there than Cassel, that should be enough to prove definitively to even the most ardent Cassel supporter that he's not doing what it takes. Because logically, if Cassel is a good quarterback, he should be doing better than a bad quarterback (Palko) or a rookie (Stanzi) could do in the same situation. Right?
Well, we may be about to find out. And I've got the distinct feeling that we could see an offense that doesn't look any worse for the loss of Cassel. And if your offense doesn't look worse without your starting quarterback, it's time to get a new quarterback.
So there's my test. If the offense doesn't look worse without Cassel, I don't think there should even be any more debate as to whether or not we need someone else. I don't even think we should need that much proof, but in case you're still not convinced Cassel isn't up to snuff, that's what you need to watch for.
Haley needs to start feeling some heat
I like Todd Haley. But the offensive gameplan and adjustments have been horrendous. He's the guy who put Bill Muir in place, and he's the guy who is supposed to be an offensive coach. With the Chiefs offensive weapons, the offensive gameplan should look different than it does. KC should be spreading defenses out and trying to let the receivers make plays, running the ball only after the pass has been established.
But I'm not seeing it. I'm willing to give Haley a little more room for error than Cassel because, well, he's had Cassel as his quarterback. That may very well be what's been holding back the offense. We shall see.
But Haley's seemingly unflappable belief in his "system" is in error. His failure to get Jared Gaither in there when the line is getting destroyed is inexcusable. His failure to take advantage of the type of players we have is bad.
So know this, Todd. While I'm still willing to give you an allowance because of the quarterback you've been working with and the injuries to Jamaal Charles and Tony Moeaki, that allowance is rapidly shrinking. You're supposed to be a receiver guru. Great. Now let's use those receivers, because they are far and away the best part of our offense. Figure it out. Adjust your way of thinking. Because what the Chiefs are doing does not and will not work.
Todd, you've got the rest of this season to show me Cassel is the main problem the Chiefs have had. And since next year is the last year of your contract, I may wait it out until then. But you're on notice. There shouldn't be an extension just waiting for you after this season. You need to earn it from here on out, and that includes next year.
You're not immune, Scott Pioli
I like many of the moves Scott Pioli has made. I like Eric Berry, Dexter McCluster, Javier Arenas, Tony Moeaki, Jon Asamoah, Kendrick Lewis, Kelly Gregg, Justin Houston, Tyson Jackson, Steve Breaston, and Jonathan Baldwin. I also think Rodney Hudson, Allen Bailey, and Jerrell Powe have potential.
But in reality, we're seeing the result of an extreme lack of depth. I get that you cannot replace an Eric Berry or a Jamaal Charles. However, there needs to be SOME quality in depth. And the Chiefs don't have it right now.
The bottom line is the team as it currently is consists of a "best players" core that was mostly in place when Pioli got here. Now, he's made some good moves since then, but he's also missed badly on others. Now, looking back on the decisions that have been made is always easier in hindsight, but a team with this many problems three years into a rebuilding project is not good.
Scott I give more leeway than Todd, because I think he's done a decent job increasing the talent on this team since his arrival. However, unless the holes we've seen exposed this year are fixed in this offseason (namely, quarterback and offensive line as well as general depth), questions need to be asked.
On a final note, you cannot judge Pioli without looking first at the Cassel decision. Now that it's all pretty much said and done, I think it was a bad one. So what now? This is, to me, the question that will decide whether or not Pioli is someone who needs to come under fire as well.
If we do not address quarterback this offseason (barring a miracle emergence by Palko or Stanzi), the calls for Pioli's head will increase. And they should. Because three offseasons should be enough time, especially when there was already a core of talent (ableit underdeveloped talent) in place when he arrived.
Overall, what do we do from here?
Despite what's happening, I think we have a shot at a legit team next year. Berry and Charles are gamechangers on offense and defense, and getting them back would make any team dramatically improve. Moeaki isn't as talented as those guys, but having a good tight end beats a bad one any day of the week. Additionally, the hopeful development of Houston, Powe, and Hudson will have an impact.
But none of that will matter if the Chiefs don't fix the problems at offensive line and quarterback, especially quarterback. If Hudson emerges, the issue at center is solved. But that still leaves tough decisions about offensive tackle and left guard.
The Chiefs have good players at many positions, but the one's they're lacking are so crucial to a team's success that it's killing them on offense. Defensively, I believe the return of Berry and an improvement on the defensive line would be enough to field a good unit. For all the groaning and gnashing of teeth, the defense only gave up 17 points Sunday. There are problems, but none that can't be fixed with Berry's return and one solid upgrade in the front seven.
Offensively, it's different. The FOUNDATION of a good offense is the line, and the line is flawed. But just as integral to a good offense is a decent quarterback. And the Chiefs just don't have one. Which is why those two issues are by far the most important that need to be addressed for this team.
Cassel, it's over. Haley, he needs to step it up and adapt with the players he has if he doesn't want to follow. And Pioli isn't far behind if he doesn't address the obvious weaknesses this team has. Say it with me.... QB, QB, QB, QB, QB, QB, O-line, D-line. Now repeat that, over and over. Did I mention QB?