Scott Pioli will make a (perhaps) career-defining decision this offseason at quarterback. The good news is, he has options. The Chiefs can stick with Matt Cassel (career 28-26 as starter), re-sign Kyle Orton (35-34), give 2011 fifth-round pick Ricky Stanzi a chance or draft a young signal-caller.
All signs point to Cassel returning as the starter. He and Pioli have strong ties, and new head coach Romeo Crennel recently supported him at his introductory press conference:
"Matt Cassel has won here. We've been to a playoff with Matt Cassel. I don't think that Matt Cassel has fallen off the wagon overnight. I think he's a good talent. He's a good quarterback and he's taken us to a playoff. So I anticipate that he can do it again."
He's right. Cassel won 10 games in 2010, and four more in nine tries last season despite team-demoralizing injuries. The 2011 squad was better than the 2010 division-winning team; it just didn't show in the win-loss columns. Given a clean bill of health from the Chiefs' core players (including himself), Cassel can take this team to the playoffs once again.
Is he a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback? Probably not. But given the team's strengths—running the ball and playing defense—he doesn't have to be.
It's proven true every season, and this one is no different: Anything can happen in a one-game playoff. The Chiefs just have to get there. And Cassel has proven he can do just that.