Kansas City Chiefs: 5 Reasons Matt Cassel Should Have a Strong 2012
Matt Cassel struggled mightily last season which proved that as he goes, so do the Kansas City Chiefs. After an injury-plagued and dismal 2011, the Chiefs and Cassel are on the mend and ready to contend for a playoff spot.
2010 was a banner year for Cassel. He threw for 27 touchdowns and led Kansas City to their first playoff birth since three years prior.
Despite solid play in spots, Cassel has failed to solidify himself as the "guy" to lead the Chiefs into the future. He plays with grit and his teammates seem to respond to him, but his level of play has failed to match the lofty expectations that came with his pricey contract.
This season is truly the last chance for Cassel to prove himself worthy of being an NFL starting quarterback. The pieces are in place for him to do so, and the fans are anxiously waiting.
A Much Improved Offensive Line
The Chiefs offensive line did a decent job last year and they would have been even better if Jamaal Charles had been running behind them.
Their Achilles heel last season was right tackle Barry Richardson. Kansas City replaced their weakest spot with one of the premiere lineman in football when they signed Eric Winston.
Winston excels in run blocking and he can adequately protect the quarterback as well. Along with Brandon Albert, the Chiefs have two bookend tackles to work with in 2012 and some decent pieces inside too.
Cassel is a quarterback who needs elite talent around him to succeed and a solid offensive line is a great start.
Returning Star Power
A rash of injuries decimated Kansas City in 2011, and the offense could never get out of the tailspin when Jamaal Charles went down.
Charles was the main culprit in the Chiefs resurgence in 2010. The running back has averaged over six yards per carry in his career and when he is healthy, he is one of the game's best.
The Chiefs also lost their promising young tight end Tony Moeaki, as well.
Both of these stars returning will be a huge boost for Cassel, and they should help him play more like the 2010 version of himself.
The Emergence of Jonathan Baldwin
Jonathan Baldwin was a first round pick in 2011 and even though his rookie season was a bit of a disappointment, the Chiefs are expecting big things from him this year.
Baldwin got injured in training camp when he reportedly got into a locker room scuffle with teammate Thomas Jones. He didn't play until almost midseason, but when he did play his potential was evident.
Baldwin is a huge target with decent speed and should draw some attention away from fellow receiver Dwayne Bowe.
Along with Steve Breaston, the Chiefs have plenty of talent at wide out which should benefit Cassel greatly.
Matt Cassel has gone through offensive coordinators like underwear during his tenure as a Chief.
The Chiefs hired Brian Daboll during the offseason, who spent last year running the offense in Miami. Daboll doesn't have a tremendous track record of success but he should at least provide a level of comfort for Cassel.
Daboll coached the wide receivers during Cassel's time in New England and he should be able to design an offense tailored to the strengths of the signal-caller.
His Job Depends on It
If Chiefs brass were as fed up of Cassel as the Kansas City fans have become, there is no doubt that the former USC project would be out of a job.
Chiefs fans have been painstakingly desperate for a franchise quarterback since Joe Montana left. With the exception of Trent Green, the list of retreads that have come through Arrowhead have been a joke.
In addition to the dismal quarterback play that has been the norm in Kansas City, the franchise has not even attempted to draft a signal-caller in the early rounds of the draft in ages.
All of this adds up to a tough situation for any quarterback to be in. The only real way to win over the hearts of Chief fans is to win a playoff game—something the franchise hasn't done in nearly 20 years.
If Matt Cassel can manage that, his job should be secure. If not, its back to the drawing board for Cassel and the Chiefs.