There have been a lot of Cassel posts, and what team in the NFL doesn’t have a major chunk of their discussions centered on their starting QB? We all understand Cassel is not elite. Cassel is not got to turn into a Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. I am pretty sure we all get that and I am not here to argue this. This post is in no way a knock on Cassel, nor is it a pump up of Cassel or his ability to help the Chiefs win games.
I was thinking about the future of this team and wanted to throw something out there and maybe get some other points of view going beyond this year. The major focal point is more on Pioli and the situation he has created for himself in KC as the GM related to the future QB and the route he has taken to building this team.
All franchise QBs, all great QBs, some elite QBs (I really am not here to talk about these guys in particular so if you don’t agree with a name on that list, that is not the point). With the exception of Drew Brees and, in a roundabout way, Eli Manning/Phyllis Rivers, all QBs drafted and developed by their respective team.
The problem I see here is that you can look at all those QBs mentioned and every one of them has something very relevant in common that the Chiefs may not have with the exception of Brady. All of them have developed in a system and had a team built around them. Brady being the exception, he was named the starter for NE in week 3 of his sophomore season and never looked back. Yes, Rodgers stepped in and did well and didn’t have to go through the pains of losing as a starter before learning to win. Wrong, Rodgers sat on a bench behind another Hall of Famer for 3 years and learned the system (a successful system) he was being groomed for. Most of the franchise QBs in the league got thrown into the flame after being drafted while the team was built around them (Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger for example). Immediate success did not happen for all of these QBs. Some franchises got pretty lucky but not all.
Pioli has to do this backwards, the team is here and he needs to find a QB that can be plugged in. I would say this is not an easy task. The traditional way would have been to draft your QB high, build a team around him and hope it takes less than 3 years to show noticeable improvement in that QBs development and the team around him. Unfortunately, in my opinion, this is not an option for Pioli.
He already built the team and did it by trying to use a stop gap in Cassel. This is not a bad thing; however, the correct course would have been to draft a QB early in Cassel’s contract to develop, not wait until his contract is 1 year away from expiring forcing any drafted QB (assuming one is drafted next year) into the starting role by their sophomore season. This approach is scary, sure Pioli may hit a home run and draft a QB that is capable of stepping in and being successful right away but the odds are not on his side.
If Pioli drafts a QB next year, I would say a reasonable timetable for that QB to be able to develop would be 3 years before he starts paying dividends. That’s if it is 1 year on the bench and 2 as a starter or 2 on the bench and maybe 1 as a starter and the payoff would come in year 4. What becomes a major concern is that the team will be three (or four) years older. The team that was assembled for him to be plugged into would not be the same team around the QB by the time his development would be in line with the rest of the talent around him. Also, this is assuming that the coaching staff stays in place to teach that new QB the same thing rather than a new way of doing things every year.
Another scary thing for Pioli is that the fan base, and maybe the organization, would more than likely not have the patience to give Pioli four or five more years. This is a win now league and this fan base has been starved for far too long to not go off the deep end waiting for the process to take hold. This roster does have a lot of talent and right now just feels right especially with a playoff win draught as bad as what the Chiefs are in right now. I don’t have the answer to solve this for the short term, and I am not bashing Cassel nor saying the Chiefs cannot win games. I’m also not say the Chiefs cannot get to and win a playoff game this year or next year. I am more concerned with where the team is going.
I think that KC is in much the same situation that Chicago was for so long where the team had the pieces but lacked a QB. This forced the hand of the organization to pretty much draft who they could and stick with that player regardless of how good or bad(Rex Grossman, Cade McNown, Kyle Orton) they played or how well they fit the system in place. The fan base was starved and no matter who was brought in they were not good enough for years until a major trade came down where Cutler was brought in.
Something along those lines may be the only reasonable scenario for Pioli, a huge trade that brings in a top shelf QB to grab the reigns rather than developing our own. Not an experiment or someone’s back up that shows flashes, but a proven cusp of elite QB that can make the throws, put the team on their back when needed and has a fire inside to accept nothing less than winning (I am not a “Cutler all the way” guy or anything like that, he is just a good example. If you watched the first Chicago vs. Detroit game last year Cutler put on an inspiring show that defined putting a team on your back and leading them to a win even though his o-line was trying to get him killed). Only problem is, I don’t see that happening. I cannot think of a QB like that in a situation where they could be traded away from where they are now. I don’t see another Jay Cutler type situation where the QB is unhappy with their team and wants out. So I am expecting some major swings for the fences from Pioli because the future of the QB position in KC is going to need a home run sooner rather than later and I’m sure Pioli would like to keep his job.
What do you think? Is there a scenario that you can think of that plays out positive for Pioli?