The Farm System: Thoughts Behind Chiefs QB


From the FanPosts. A different approach, I like it. -Joel

I think the Kansas City Chiefs QB situation has been interesting, to say the least, the last few years, and I think there may be some reasoning for what we are missing. I think if you asked Chiefs GM Scott Pioli a few questions and he could only answer with one word then this is what he would say...

1) Did you think you were getting a franchise QB with Matt Cassel when you traded for him?


2) Are you pleased with Ricky Stanzi?


3) Is Matt Cassel the most talented QB on the roster?


4) Is Matt Cassel the unquestioned starter?


Confused yet?

I think analogies between sports are rather tricky most of the time but there is one that I have been thinking about and have been getting behind more and more -- the 'farm system' approach of baseball to the NFL QB. It is widely acknowledged that baseball requires an extensive development process and it is one that when rushed or compromised can result in the regression or complete breakdown of a prospect.

Personally, I like to compare pitchers with QBs.

Let's start with the 'confidence' factor. We have all heard about a pitcher who got 'shelled' and then starts playing timid and tentative as a rookie. Likewise, we all know about those young QBs who are thrown to the wolves... only they are not getting 'shelled'. They're getting absolutely destroyed and physically harmed by 300+ pound monsters. I think 'David Carr syndrome' is a commonly used term for someone who begins to hear footsteps. This symptom is actually much worse than a simple loss of confidence though, for physiologically your body will develop instinctive reflex to protect itself. This is not a matter of mentally 'losing your edge' -- it is your body forcing you into protective action (i.e. 'happy feet' or whatever you want to call them). This is something that can be overcome over the course of a month but sometimes it builds to the point where it may take a year to return to normal controlled actions (I use the term 'normal' here lightly as being an NFL QB is like having someone throw baseballs at your body and having no reflex to catch them or dodge... not exactly 'normal'). Or you may even never come back at all... 'David Carr syndrome'.

Next is the reaction to mistakes. With rookies not properly exposed to the game, whether it is specific batters' tendencies, or having an understanding of pitch count and strategic pitching, or inning and base runner scenarios, mistakes tend to pile up. This is predominantly because you do not have the development to properly identify the correct causes of a mistake and as you attempt to correct it you only throw things off more. A QB that begins to make a mistake will automatically look to fine tune what caused it. And just like a golf swing gone horribly wrong, if he hasn't had the proper development he will be unable to make the corrections in the speed of the game, or even worse, he makes a correction and it is the wrong one. This can begin to unravel his established fundamentals and can lead to something very messy.

Talent is not everything in this game. Sometimes you must understand situation and development. Just like in baseball you may have an extremely talented player that you advance prior to proper development and he ends up regressing and goes to Square -5 instead of Square 1. Well, what if those squares lost represent a full year or two? Think of how small a thing it is for a pitcher with a couple of elite pitches to develop a below average third pitch. Does this affect his overall talent level a great deal? Not really. But in the scheme of things this development will likely save teams from targeting and sitting on his strengths. They will have less of an opportunity to capitalize on his weaknesses and will be forced to be honest in their approach to his game. Sounds like a pretty good deal for your starting NFL QB right?

Now let's get into the nitty gritty of the explanation of those potential short answers Pioli may give to those short questions in the beginning.

A lot of people think that because Pioli went out and got his QB in the beginning and has stuck with him since that he thinks Cassel is a franchise QB. I don't think he ever did. I think Pioli firmly believes in the proper development of the most difficult position to develop in the entire NFL. Think about it -- you only play one QB all year. It's not like your backup can get some live experience in a jumbo package.

You had better be damn sure that you have an environment where he can succeed... this brings us to why he brought Cassel in. The Chiefs had a losing culture and a shitty team. He brought in a veteran QB who would not fold under drastic circumstances. Matt Cassel has gone above and beyond what anyone of us should have ever wanted. He gave us a hard worker at the most important position, someone with intangibles, someone with enough development that a complete regression of skills would not occur in those horrible circumstances, and most importantly just a stable foundation with which to build a winning franchise. Matt Cassel has been a strong foundation to build this competitor for the division crown and the playoffs, so Pioli got everything he ever wanted there.

Next you have a lot of people who believe that the Chiefs may draft a QB and cut Ricky Stanzi. They think that because Stanzi couldn't beat out Tyler Palko that he sucks. Well, let me just reiterate that Pioli is thinking of both the short and long term success of this team. When developing a QB it takes a year or two, so you have to ask yourself... even if Stanzi had greater success than Palko, what happens if it stunts his long term development? I can tell you right now that no one gave two shits about Palko having any problems. I mean KC did lose Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry, and Tony Moaeki... what good does it really do to get minimal extra experience if it sets his development back? Remember, they didn't even really get an offseason due to the NFL lockout. I believe Pioli is quite pleased with Stanzi's skills and that is actually why he didn't start him, as weird as that sounds. I think it may be an endorsement for the future that he valued his long term success highly enough to hold him out.

Which leads us to... is Matt Cassel the most talented QB on the roster? I firmly believe that Pioli views the three QBs as:

  • Cassel - the veteran QB with proper development that can easily start for the Chiefs.
  • Quinn - the backup QB that will be a nice plug in if he is still worried Stanzi needs a little more time and isn't ready. (after seeing some of the comments I would like to add one thing here - Quinn may be an example of a talented QB that was not developed properly and was put in a poor situation in Cleveland, we could be surprised here)
  • Stanzi - the QB who Pioli thinks highly enough of to properly develop and put in a situation where he can be successful.

For the last question and answer, I think most of you can see why I show Pioli saying....well, what he says in real life, that Cassel is the unquestioned starter. I honestly don't think he believes Cassel is the most talented starter. He may be, but that is not the point. I think that this just means he wants to get a little more development in for Stanzi.

I firmly believe that if the Chiefs draft a QB and like him, then Quinn is gone. This will mean that they are confident enough in Stanzi's development that they think real game experience as a backup if the need arises, will help his development and not hinder him.

Remember... QB is like its own little farm system. It takes much longer to develop as only one guy gets to play at a time, and if someone who isn't ready plays, then they get physically demolished and beaten into a shell of what they were. The cupboard was bare when they got here... Croyle, Thigpen, Quinn Gray (???).

Is it really that surprising that it took so long to get into a position where we have a decent starter holding his own, a promising prospect, and the opportunity to snag another prospect if Stanzi can back up?

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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