With all the hoopla surrounding Peyton Manning this offseason, it was easy for organizations and their fans to hastily disregard their current quarterback situations. And with the opportunity of bringing in a once-in-a-generation type of player, do you blame them?
The Kansas City Chiefs were certainly drunk off the Manning rage, but seem to still be suffering from the hangover of him choosing to sign with another team. Moreover, after having brought in Kyle Orton late last season, where does this leave the confidence of current Chiefs’ starting quarterback Matt Cassel?
Sure, neither Manning nor Orton is with the team heading into 2012, but how does one feel knowing that there was an attempt to bring in serious competition last season, followed by another to bring in a replacement for this season?
With all of that now in the rear-view mirror, it is time for the Chiefs organization and its fans to throw all of their support towards Matt Cassel going forward as the leader of this team.
Brought in to pilot the Scott Pioli era, Cassel’s tenure in Kansas City can be described as incomplete.
After a subpar first season with the Chiefs in 2009—which can be attributed to the entire organization being in transition—Cassel backed it up in 2010 with his best season as a professional throwing for 27 touchdowns to only seven interceptions, which earned him Pro Bowl honors. And we are all familiar with what transpired for Cassel and the Chiefs in 2011.
Not only did a less-than-full complement of weapons (specifically, season-ending ACL injuries to Jamaal Charles and Tony Moeaki) affect Cassel’s performance before suffering a season-ending hand injury himself, but the mishandling of the shortened offseason, preseason, and start to the regular season by the coaching staff and management also played a part and eventually led to the firing of head coach Todd Haley.
Part of the reason it would have been unproblematic to bring in Manning is, for starters, it is proven that he is a better quarterback than Cassel. If an organization is going to make this type of move, a quarterback competition is not the natural next step. Secondly, Cassel is only due a salary of $5.25 million for the 2012 season. And with such a small cap hit owed to a starting quarterback, all options to either release, trade, or keep him as an insurance policy in case Manning were to go down were certainly on the table.
Although it would have been an easy transition to bring in someone like Manning, drafting a quarterback in the first round this season is simply not an option.
It is a foregone conclusion that Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III will be off the board with the first two picks in the draft, but talk of Ryan Tannehill jumping into the fray early should be a huge sign to the Chiefs that he isn’t the answer either.
The only way to guarantee the rights to draft Tannehill would be to trade up to the third pick with so many teams embracing a similar desire to find their franchise quarterback. And with the Chiefs having multiple holes to fill or positions to add depth to, giving up a mass of high picks would be extremely counterproductive.
The Chiefs were two blocked field goals away from repeating as AFC West champions, even with all that transpired in Kansas City last season. So it isn’t a stretch to believe that by simply adding a few pieces that the Chiefs should compete for another crown in 2012.
I personally wasn’t a fan of Cassel when he was brought in from New England, and I do feel that the Chiefs need to start investing high draft choices in finding their franchise quarterback. But when looking at the big picture, it isn’t difficult to figure out that Cassel deserves one more chance to lead the Chiefs in 2012.