FanPost

Cassel, can the chiefs get a ring on his back?

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This isn't going to be short and sweet (well not so sweet for some). The largest argument circulating arrowhead pride and probably countless numbers of other blogs that are centered the Kansas city Chiefs right now is can Matt Cassel be a top 10 QB and ultimately help the Chiefs win the Lombardi trophy after an up and down 3 seasons as our starter at the position. In this post I will address some of the vitriol that M. Cassel receives and offer the counter argument to the notorious and elegant statement "Matt Cassel sucks". During the course I will also offer my take on the Front offices view of our QB situation and put on display statistical facts that I believe will either sway fans to have a change of opinion on our starting QB, or have the more pessimistic fans not even rebuttal out of pure Frustration. Either way it should be fun and educational to once and for all break down why, in my humble opinion based off of statistics, M. Cassel is capable of being a top 10 Qb given competent personnel around him and consistency in our coaching staff. I’d like for the purposes of this article to have everybody forget what they think of Matt Cassel. Look at him as if he is a prospect….and take the leap of logic with me

First I’d like to identify Matt Cassel from beginning to end, starting from being drafted to now. When evaluating talent in almost anything one has to take into account the prospects skill level and potential, better known to football fans as floor and ceiling. As a 7th round pick in the 2005 draft for the New England Patriots Matt Cassel was not a top prospect and was not given a very good chance of succeeding in the NFL. Just recently there was a good article on the chances of a quarterbacks drafted in the later rounds, and how much opportunity, investment and time was given to get up to speed, (sorry I cant remember the name or the poster) hope somebody remembers and I can give him credit. Anyhow in this article is was theorized that quarterbacks drafted late in the draft didn’t carry much weight as far as investment and therefore had a shorter leash, so to speak. It stated that a 1st round Qb was given more talent, more chances at practicing with better talent and garnered the attention of coaches to prepare them. It also stated that Qbs drafted later in the draft got less of everything from coaching to support. With that theory the argument can be made that Matt Cassel didn’t receive the proper coaching and attention then other Qbs, coming out of college, because it appeared his ceiling wasn’t very high, so the investment of coaching was less. Speaking of college M. Cassel had the unfortunate benefit of having to compete with two of So.Cals best quarterbacks ever in Carson Palmer and Matt Lietner. So coming into the NFL he wasn’t given much of a chance to be anything but a backup. But let’s look at his college numbers

Season Team Gp Rating Att Comp % Yards TD INT

2001

USC

6

Na

2

1

50

5

0

0

2002

USC

10

132

4

3

75

27

0

0

2003

USC

7

87

13

6

46

63

0

0

2004

USC

9

115

14

10

71

97

0

0

Looking at these stats in limited playing time one could go either way, in my opinion these are good stats for a third string Qb that probably doesn’t get the attention of coaches and the confidence of being highly touted. One thing to pay attention to is the interception ratio, 32 games played and 1 interception. That’s damn good!

We move on to 2005 and the patriots draft Matt Cassel in the 7th round 230th overall. What did the patriots front office sees to want to spend a draft pick on a 3rd string Qb. In my opinion they saw consistency and a player that

could be coached up, sound familiar? Matt continues to stay on the roster despite being 1 of 5 Qbs. And in 2008 due in great part to the Chiefs ironically, he finally gets a chance to start when fellow teammate Tom Brady goes down with an injury. Lets take a look at how he did during those 15 games. And lets also take a look at the next two years with the chiefs.

Year

GS

OC

W-L

Att

Comp

Yrd

TD

INT

rate

sack

Yards loss

Fum

Fum

Loss

2008

15

J. McDaniels

10-5

516

327

3,693

21

11

89.4

47

219

2

0

2009

15

T. Haley

4-12

493

271

2924

16

16

69.9

42

243

14

3

2010

15

C. Wies

10-6

450

262

3116

27

7

93.0

26

182

3

1

in 2008 according to the stats M. Cassel was better then B. Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Donavan Mcnabb and Eli Manning., despite missing the playoffs with a winning record of 11-5. Also notice that M. Cassel has had a different Offensive coordinator and Qb Coach each year of his career as a starter. A well-known key to success at QB is linked to consistency in coaches and offensive scheme which we will examine as we compare Matt to other QBs who happen to be considered elite or franchise.

Lets also look out how he spread the ball around in his debut as a starter, the reason for doing this is that some of the criticism that he receives is that he doesn’t go threw his progressions efficiently. The only way to look at that objectively is to examine how many receivers had large yardage in receiving

2008 New England Patriots

2009 Kansas City Chiefs

2010 Kansas City Chiefs

W. Welker

1165

3

D. Bowe

589

4

D. Bowe

1162

15

R. Moss

1008

11

C. Chambers

608

4

C. Chambers

213

1

J. Gaffney

468

2

B. Wade

367

2

T. Copper

157

0

S. Aiken

101

0

M. Bradley

320

2

V. Tucker

114

1

L. Long

178

0

Other receivers

140

4

Here we see out of the starters minus tight ends and running backs (which equals approx. another 500 yards) that Cassel spread around passes to his starting receivers evenly according to where they probably where on the depth chart and how much actual game time they experienced. Lets compare that to the best quarterbacks in the league in the respective first three seasons as starters.

P. Manning

Peyton Manning is a QB picture of football royalty, while his father Archie is a hall of famer and younger brother Eli( who has 1 more superbowl win then him) considered today( not yesterday) among the elite he has had premium coaching since an early age. It should also be mentioned that while T.Moore was the offensive coordinator, Bruce Arian was the Quarterback coach and both typically pass almost 80% of the time in their respective offensive schemes, almost 30% more then Haley passed in Kansas City, and now being the OC in Pittsburg (thank god) its rumored that he will instill an offensive scheme very similar.

Year

GS

OC

W-L

Att

Comp

Yrd

TD

INT

rate

sack

Yards loss

Fum

Fum

Loss

1998

16

T. Moore

3-13

575

326

3,739

26

23

71.2

22

109

3

1

1999

15

T. Moore

13-3

554

331

4135

26

15

90.7

14

116

5

3

2000

15

T. Moore

10-6

579

357

4413

33

15

94.7

20

131

5

2

1998 Indianapolis Colts

1999 Indianapolis Colts

2000 Indianapolis Colts

M Harrison

1663

12

M. Harrison

1663

12

M. Harrison

1413

14

T. Wilkins

565

4

EG Green

287

0

J. Pathon

646

3

EG Green

287

0

T. Wilkins

565

4

T. Wilkins

569

3

Tight ends

1224

10

J. Pathon

163

0

EG Green

201

1

I. Jones

8

0

Tight Ends

140

4

Tom Brady

The golden child and prototype to which Matt Cassel is ultimately modeled after, also a late round pick Qb that no one gave a chance, only getting the opportunity (just like Matt Cassel) to start once the first round drafted drew Bledsoe went down due to injury. There seems there is a common theme in New England since Hoodie took over that also seems to work. While nobody will know if its as successful as the first time until the third generation in Ryan Mallet if he ever takes over the reigns. It must be noted that it seems to be a plan and not something of coincidence.

Year

GS

OC

W-L

Att

Comp

Yrd

TD

INT

rate

sack

Yards loss

Fum

Fum

Loss

2001

14

C. Wies

11-5

413

264

2843

18

12

86.5

41

216

12

3

2002

16

C. Wies

9-7

601

271

3764

28

14

85.8

31

190

7

4

2003

16

C. Wies

14-2

527

262

3620

23

12

85.9

32

219

13

5

Anybody notice a trend here……both T. Brady and P. Manning had the same offensive coordinator in their first 3-4 year (4th year not listed) as starters. And while both Manning and Brady are slightly in front of Cassel in some categories Matt wasn’t far behind and got better year-by-year. One number that should pop out is the number of attempts compared to the td/int ratio. While both Manning and Brady have approximately 25% and 10% more attempts neither has a better td/int ratio. What this means is that, at least in terms of td to attempts, that M. Cassel was just as efficient when passing the ball and scoring TD completion in the first three years of their careers. Right now your probably pulling out a calculator and saying no F#*&ing way. So ill go threw it right here so you don’t have to keep scrolling and doing calculations.

1st 3 YRS

Total Att

Total Comp

Comp %

TDS

INT

INT/TD

TD/ATT

TD/COMP

M. Cassel

1459

860

58%

64

34

53.1

4.35

7.44

P. Manning

1706

1014

60%

85

58

68.23

4.98

8.35

T. Brady

1541

954

61%

69

38

55.07

4.47

7.23

D. Brees

1309

802

61%

56

38

67.85

4.27

6.98

In the company of three of the greatest qbs this generation knows, Matt Cassel seems right at home, despite not having consistency in coaching or offensive scheme like the other three. And while not having as high a completion percentage he has the lowest Interception to touchdown ratio among these future hall of famer. Another stat that should stand out is the completion to touchdown ration, while well below Peyton Manning Cassel is higher then Brady by just a tad and well above the New Orleans Saint and savior with more touchdowns and fewer interceptions. Remember these are the stats from the first three years as a starter for all four, so don’t take this comparison as the conclusion that Matt Cassel is better but rather a reminder that early in careers as starters even the best go threw growing pains. And from these stats you can see that Matt Cassel not only saves people from burning houses, he also has held his own despite not being put in the most favorable spot early in his career as a starter.

Now lets look at some qbs that maybe everybody can agree is on the lower end of quality starters. For the sake of continuity some of these quarterbacks have not had success as starters so I’ll be posting there numbers for at least 40 games as to have a comparison to a three year starter.

1st 3 YRS

Total Att

Total Comp

Comp %

TDS

INT

INT/TD

TD/ATT

TD/COMP

T. Jackson

972

578

59%

36

31

86.1

3.70

6.22

Alex Smith

1349

708

52%

50

42

84.0

3.70

7.06

Kyle Orton

1454

841

57%

51

39

76.4

3.50

6.06

R. Fitzpatrick

1237

735

59%

56

48

85.71

4.52

7.11

As you can see M. Cassel is well above some starters that could be considered lower quality starters. Only R. Fitzpatrick is even close with a better touchdown to attempts ration, but a lower touchdown to completion ratio

Highlighter stats in green Matt Cassel Stats are better or more efficient

Other areas of concern that fans make mention to include but are not limited to:

Inability to make progressions

Happy feet

Inability to go deep with passes

I will address all three

Inability to make progressions

I can be recently quoted asking this question in response to this statement asking "what makes you think he isn’t making his progression, the only way one would know that is by knowing the play, the progression on routes while at the same time being able to watch his head movement and the receivers on their routes" or something like that. How can a fan, be privy to all this information, the answer is no fan can. While we would like to think we know a lot about the game, there are many things we don’t understand or are supposed to know. If a fan could look at Cassel and identify he wasn’t making progressions, it’s a safe assumption that opposing teams coaching staffs could do the same and more and it would show up as more interceptions as safeties would have to do anything but make plays on his passes. In Cassels defense and to his detriment, he doesn’t have the strongest arm, and therefore passes linger in the air longer then some qbs passes, if he wasn’t making the proper read wouldn’t his passes be picked off a lot more often as defensive backs have more opportunity to make a play on a Cassel ball as opposed to some of the other qbs in the league with stronger arms.

Happy feet

This is a valid concern when dealing with quarterback’s ability to remain calm and make plays on blitz packages. In my opinion, the more comfortable a qb is with his line the less he has "happy feet". While there is no significant statistical data concerning happy feet, one could look at the offensive line stats and get an ideal.

Kansas City Chiefs OL

Year

Sacks

Hits

Rank

Right T.

Left G.

Center

Right G.

Right T.

2009

45

85

27

B. Albert

A.Alleman

R. Niswanger

B. Waters

I. Ndukwe

2010

32

74

13

B. Albert

R. Lilja

C.Wiegman

B. Waters

B. Richardson

2011

34

74

14

B. Albert

R. LIlja

C.Wiegman

J. Asamoah

B.Richardson

2012

projected

10

B. Albert

R. Lilja

R. Hudson

J. Asamoah

E. Winston

From the ranking, one could come to the conclusion that the offensive line has become significantly better since Matt Cassels arrival in Kansas City. Some will argue that he holds on to the ball too long therefore forcing the OL to hold blocks for pass three Mississippi. While this may be a possibility we have also had a number of different position changes and additions to our line since 2009. As a matter of history, only 1 starting lineman (Brandon Albert) from the 2009 starting roster remains active in the NFL. What this means is that 3 out of 5 offensive line starters where not even fit to be backup reserves on other then on 32 different teams, let alone starters with (Brian Walters) being let go to make way for youth. 2012 will be his test in this area as the line seems to be quality from side to side.

Inability to go deep with passes

I’ll just let stats speak for themselves, as I’m biased. I remember seeing deep passes to randy moss twice a game when matt was in New England and believe that play calling and offensive scheme instituted by Todd Haley are to blame for this myth. Aside from the fact that Brandon Albert was quoted saying "if he cant set his feet, he cant make the throws" possibly to his own detriment, but probably more aiming at a few players that were either cut or just not resigned in the offseason. (while writing this piece, I was unable to find the stats on Matt Cassels completion percentage of passes over 20 yards or more. If somebody has access to those numbers please post them in the feed.

In the end, the supporters of Matt Cassel know why they support him, with reasons that can’t be refuted, only dismissed as excuses. While critics of Cassel probably have their minds made up. It doesn’t matter how many stats you show them, no matter how many wins Matt Cassel has even with what he has had to work with. Maybe this entire post was time wasted. In the end it would just be nice to be apart of a fan base that supported our players, especially when they have not been put in the best circumstance to win. To be apart of a fan base that defended the team and it’s players to the tooth when a rival teams fan talked trash. Instead what I’ve seen on plenty of blogs and websites from Chiefs fans is agreement whenever opposing fans poked fun, as opposed to what even the saints fans do when someone brings up the bounty scandal, or raiders fans about, well them being a raider fan. We have a lot to be proud off, and look forward to, and I wish fellow Chiefs fans knew the power of positive thinking. If we say our team is garbage, or no way we win more then 6 games this year. That’s probably going to happen as our perception as a whole shapes reality, but that’s another kind or discussion altogether.

Hope you enjoyed the read and hopefully I opened some eyes to the fact that Matt Cassel is still a potential franchise QB, and one who can be elite if given a legitimate opportunity by coaches and front office. If the numbers don’t sway you, I’m afraid the saying "the truth will set you free" isn’t true.

Please excuse the format, and if you know how to fix it let me know.

Statistics retrieved from the following websites

http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl

www.fantasyfootball.com

www.nfl.com/stats

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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