The Kansas City Chiefs lost QB Matt Cassel on Sunday to some sort of hand injury that's expected to keep him out of at least Monday night's game against the New England Patriots and possibly longer, maybe the entire season.
This situation brings up a million things to talk about, questions to ask and concerns about how the Chiefs will handle it. I'm talking about all those things here -- Cassel's recovery timetable, the Ricky Stanzi factor, veteran backup quarterbacks, changing the offense and competitive advantages.
No one knows when, or if, Cassel will be back. Maybe the Chiefs know and they're not saying but we certainly don't know. That's because we don't know exactly what's wrong with him. The Chiefs were a little chattier than usual about injuries on Monday given the circumstances but that doesn't mean they gave us Cassel's x-rays or the doctor's medical report. We don't know exactly what's wrong with him, what kind of surgery he's having or what the recovery process is. Until we know exactly what's wrong, it's hard to guess when he'll be back.
Ricky Stanzi doesn't factor in right now. Yesterday NFL Network's Albert Breer tweeted something about liking Stanzi coming out and a few minutes later, after the flood of responses from his 50,000-plus followers, tweeted again, "Wow. Didn't realize Stanzi had this kinda following in KC." Lots of people like Stanzi and, if the season is done, would prefer to see the rookie rather than the 28-year old Palko. From best I can tell, the Stanzi hype dates back to ESPN's Mel Kiper talking about him in the draft (calling him a hidden gem a la Tom Brady). Really, though, he's a fifth round pick and hasn't been active all year. Kent Babb of the KC Star has been reporting throughout the year that Stanzi isn't a candidate to play this year (barring injury to others, of course) so, for now, Stanzi is not the guy.
The veteran backup quarterback debate rears it's head again. Remember back in training camp when the Chiefs decided against bringing in a veteran backup quarterback? That was definitely a topic we debated. That the Chiefs had such inexperience behind Cassel wasn't something that sneaked by us. My argument back then was to bring in a veteran (lookin' at you, Marc Bulger or Todd Collins) because past history has shown us that Cassel is going to miss a game or two. Now we'll be seeing that argument again, that GM Scott Pioli and Todd Haley weren't prepared for what hit them (this is assuming Palko struggles which...maybe he doesn't). There were opportunities to bring a veteran guy in and they didn't. If Palko flops, that's on Pioli and Co. for failing to act on that position in training camp.
Changes to the Chiefs offense. Palko said this week that he knows the entire offense, everything is available to him and Haley says he has confidence in Palko to run the offense. That said, I still think we see a lot of things change offensively for Palko. I see a lot of high percentage, low risk passes -- sorta like Cassel, actually -- and trying to avoid turnovers. I'd say things get even more conservative on the offense, we see more Jackie Battle in the backfield and more Dexter McCluster in the flat.
A word about competitive advantages. Palko talked to the media on Monday and said he had a pretty good idea talking to Cassel on Sunday after the game that Cassel wouldn't be ready to play next week. That's interesting because Cassel spoke to the media after the game and again on 810 WHB Monday morning and didn't give any idea that there was a long-term issue with his hand.