Accuracy in perspective: Matt Cassel and Geno Smith

Justin K. Aller

From the FanPosts -Joel

The talk of the offseason has been the coming change to the quarterback position in Kansas City. Matt Cassel has worn out his welcome in KC, to say the least. What looked like a promising 2010 campaign (27 TDs, 7 INTs) was proven to be a mirage created by Todd Haley and Charlie Weis' skillful playcalling.

More: Chiefs draft news | The case for Geno Smith | Tyler Wilson

After JayhawksNChiefs's post on Geno Smith's accuracy numbers, it occurred to me: We don't really know exactly what the baseline is for Chiefs quarterback play. We all know that it was terrible last year, but how terrible? What would Geno be asked to improve on? And how much of an upgrade would Geno really be? Would that upgrade be worth the first overall pick?

I bit the bullet and decided to re-watch every throw Matt Cassel made in 2012. Yes, every throw. It took me a couple of days, and I had to take a lot of breaks so I wouldn't get depressed. What I found was a quarterback that held back an offense in every way possible.

I'll be referencing Geno's accuracy numbers that JayhawksNChiefs found in his research so I can compare what KC could have to what they had last year (props, by the way, JNC. This took forever, and I was able to use NFL Game Rewind, which is much quicker than YouTube.).

Matt Cassel in 2012

Matt Cassel threw a pass in nine Chiefs games this year: vs. ATL, @BUF, @NO, vs. SD, vs. BAL, vs. OAK, @SD, @PIT and vs. CIN. He was knocked out of the Baltimore game and only played the first half against Cincy. Still, he threw the ball 269 times, so that's a fairly big sample size. I charted where the receiver was that Matt was attempting to throw the ball to and didn't worry about YAC. The results are below:



Short throws

Matt Cassel's completion percentage on throws within four yards of the line of scrimmage was 73 percent. Geno Smith's completion percentage in that same general range was 88 percent. In fact, his overall completion percentage was 71 percent.

With a sub-par completion percentage comes sub-par throws. Let's check one of them out.


3-and-10, down 7-3, early second quarter. Bowe on the outside on the right, McCluster in the slot, Moeaki in tight right, Breaston on the left and Draughn in the backfield.


Breaston runs a shallow cross, Bowe is taking the corner with him down the sideline, McCluster is driving toward the middle of the field, and Moeaki is about to break to his left. Draughn is the outlet.


McCluster comes open, and you could argue that Moeaki has as well, but Cassel has already decided its time to freak out and dump it off with no pressure in his face.


Ah, but he doesn't even complete the screen. He throws it 3 yards over Draughn's head. Even if it was on target, he was going to get killed by the defender. All-around bad play for Cassel. Let's check out another play where his inaccuracy hurts.


Third-and-four, a simple slant route is called to go to Bowe on the right.


Huge passing lane is opened up for Cassel, great job by Asamoah and Winston. Everything looks great.


Matt decided he wanted to see Bowe make an acrobatic one-handed catch, so he put it almost completely out of his reach. I mean seriously, this is an easy 7- or 8-yard pass that he just botches, and it killed a drive deep in KC territory. Everyone else did their job: o-line made a great throwing lane and didn't let anyone go by untouched, Bowe was able to win his route and get open for the easy completion. Cassel just screwed it up.

While we're on the subject of short passes...what's this thing about Geno throwing too many screens? 28 percent of his passes were near the line of scrimmage, and 61 percent were within 10 yards. 40 percent of Matt Cassel's were near the LOS and 66 percent were within 10 yards. So conceivably, we'd see less throws near the line of scrimmage and more past the first down marker if the Chiefs utilized Geno the same exact way he was used in college.

Deep ball

Cassel's struggles started with the short throws, but they didn't end there.

Matt Cassel's completion percentage of 33 percent on passes that traveled more than 20 yards in the air is on the low end of the NFL spectrum. From the data in this ProFootballFocus post, it's obvious that he doesn't come close to the NFLs best deep ball passers.

These 21+ numbers don't even tell the whole story. I would've included a 31+ category, like JayhawksNChiefs did for his Geno post, but Cassel only threw seven passes longer than 30 yards all season, and only one of those was longer than 40 yards. On those 7 passes, he was 0-7 with 1 interception.

Think about that. The opposing defense didn't have to worry about a ball going more than 29 yards over their head. That will kill any offense.

Here's his only throw that traveled more than 40 yards in the air from the line of scrimmage all year.


1st-and-10, down 20-0 in the second quarter. Bowe split out wide left, Baldwin on the right. Moeaki at tight end, Charles in the backfield with Eachus.


Here's when he releases the ball. Baldwin is at the 44 yard line, running a straight vertical route that will eventually fade to the sideline.


The ball is in the air and Baldwin has yet to realize it. He'll start his fade around the SD 45 yard line.


There's the ball hitting the ground about five yards away from Baldwin on the 30 yard line. Terrible, terrible throw. Didn't look like he and Baldwin were anywhere close to being on the same page. Even so, he overthrew him badly.

Matt Cassel's longest completed pass (in the air, not including YAC) was this pass:

29 yard TD to Bowe

Done laughing? While people pick apart where exactly the ball was thrown on the receiver's body on Geno's deep ball completions, I'm just going to sit back and realize that any sort of completion beyond 30 yards will be a sight for sore eyes in Kansas City next year.

These deep ball numbers, along with his obsession with throwing to the check-down man, helped contribute to Cassel's paltry 6.59 yards/attempt and 11.16 yards/completion for the season.

Pocket presence and ball security

Turnovers were a huge problem for Matt Cassel last season. Just as troubling as his 12 interceptions in 269 pass attempts were his 19 sacks taken and 7 fumbles lost. Here's one sack that turned into a fumble in Week 2.


Situation is 1st-and-10, down 14-0 in the second quarter. Two tight ends, McCluster in the slot, Bowe out wide. Eachus and Hillis in the backfield.


He drops back, clean pocket.


He sees two receivers he can dump the ball off to at the 42 yard line, Hillis and Moeaki, and another he could attempt to get it to at the Buffalo 48, Boss, if he trusted his arm.


But he waits too long because of indecisiveness and Asamoah gets beat.


Sack, fumble, oops.

Where Geno Smith will help

What this team needs is a quarterback that's able to do the little things right, all while being able to stretch the defense downfield. While Geno might have some problems with locking on to receivers (a little overblown, considering he was very accurate), he has the most important trait a quarterback needs to be successful in the NFL: accuracy. The Chiefs haven't seen that since the days of Trent Green. Geno's accuracy to all fields, something Cassel obviously lacks based on everyone's eyes and this data, is made even more impressive by his ability to protect the ball, something Cassel struggles with as well.

After all this, I'm just reminded of how bad the Chiefs had it last year at the quarterback position. There's no way a team can win anything with a huge black hole at the most important position in the game. I attempted to find positives for Matt, but there truly were not a lot. I think saying "Matt Cassel sucks" over and over again really numbed me to the facts of how bad he truly is. It was painful and comedic watching his attempt at quarterbacking this season. I'm not saying his wide receivers were all-world -- they certainly contributed to the bad passing game. But a competent QB would improve this offense more than I originally thought.

There is hope, Chiefs fans! For the first time in its NFL existence, the Kansas City Chiefs have the No. 1 overall pick. That's a rarity. Do we really want them to spend it on a lateral move at left tackle or a luxury third pass rusher? Why is everyone so scared of taking the best quarterback available? Where is this mythical perfect quarterback prospect everyone is waiting for, and how do we know we'll have a shot at him when he arrives?

I believe people are being overly critical of Geno Smith. Yes, he doesn't have the hype of Andrew Luck or RGIII coming out of school, but let's not get crazy here. After watching all of his games this year (didn't get a chance to chart those, but I'll defer to JNC's numbers again), I believe that he could step in to an NFL locker room tomorrow and be a top 20 QB, with the potential to be much, much better than that as he matures. The numbers, especially in relation to Cassel's, show that.

His ability to do the little things that Matt Cassel couldn't, like keep defenses close to the line of scrimmage with his great short-game accuracy and decision-making, would do wonders for this offense. Better days are ahead for the Kansas City Chiefs, and one of the main reasons is because there will be a new quarterback in town.

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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