By Mac Moore
Much of this column was penned before the Chiefs decided to gain the lead for the first time this season on Monday Night Football against the Steelers. I do not feel it changes the gist of my argument. Sorry if a lead for 22 minutes does not impress me.
Matt Cassel is not the reason the Chiefs are ranked last in the latest ESPN power rankings. The Chiefs have many problems that cannot be solely blamed on the eighth-year quarterback.
This is in no way a defense of Cassel as a starter in the NFL. The Chiefs are bad; so is Cassel.
The 2010 season showed promise. The Chiefs used the ball control offense and latched on the back of superstar running back Jamaal Charles. The rushing attack outran their opponents by over 800 yards on the season, according to ESPN.com.
This strategy allowed them to dominate inferior opponents, yet when their opponents had any offensive firepower, the passing game could not keep up. Pro-Football-Reference.com indicates the Chiefs eclipsed 200 passing yards only once during the six losses and lost by an average of two touchdowns. These blowout losses were ignored because we made the playoffs.
The 2011 season unveiled everything that the previous season masked. With offensive coordinator Charlie Weis trying to fight back into the college coaching ranks, the Chiefs settled with Bill Muir. Muir attempted to duplicate the success of Weis but Cassel regressed as he couldn’t stand up behind a shoddy O-line.
It didn’t take long for Matt Cassel to suffer a season-ending injury, leaving the team with absolutely no viable quarterback. Next they had no head coach as General Manager Scott Pioli decided the woes of this QB-less team should be lumped on Todd Haley. Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel was named Interim Head Coach. The team still narrowly missed the playoffs.
So this season left fans with hope and promise. Crennel was heralded as the choice for head coach after nearly stealing a playoff spot. Muir retired, leaving the OC position to be filled by Crennel’s old Browns OC Brian Daboll.
Pioli stepped up and signed marquee-free agents such as offensive tackle Eric Winston. Many sports analysts considered this offseason to be solid for the Chiefs. Using the perfect vision that hindsight rewards, we know the results have instead been dismal.
For some the answer still eludes them. What could be the problem? The answer is simple. Matt Cassel is a backup.
Pioli’s hubris has caused him to believe he can win with any QB as long as he installs the Patriots Way he learned in New England. Heck, the Patriots have played in four Super Bowls and won three of them with a sixth-round QB. Pioli legitimately believes any QB can do that. That sixth-round QB was Tom “freakin’” Brady.
Pioli has hedged all his bets on Matt Cassel and his belief that the system is what made Tom Brady become one of the greatest QBs of all time. So we have spent the entire Pioli regime without a single pro-level prospect at the QB position, fearing Matt Cassel would look over his shoulder. For the system to work, Pioli couldn’t have that.
The prudent follow-up would be why are we so bad this year if we were not this bad the last two years with Cassel? The answer is that the only thing holding us back those seasons was the lack of a QB.
Now the Chiefs have a head coach who should have stayed the defensive coordinator. The offensive coordinator is a pass happy play-caller who has no idea what to do with this QB crew. The team has lost the window of opportunity on a QB who never started a college football game.
This team is missing stability and excitement. The team has quit playing for this coach because they no longer think they can win for him, this quarterback or this front office. Pioli is praying to high heaven that the owner Clark Hunt gives him one more chance to pick a QB and a head coach. In the NFL, he might not even get a second chance.
Contact Mac Moore, sports editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.