The Kansas City Chiefs suffered through a miserable season in 2011. Injuries to key players and an ill-prepared head coach were the main culprits for the digression coming off an AFC West title in 2010.
But in the NFL the quarterback shoulders most of the culpability, even if he has produced the best he can with the cards he is dealt.
Cassel's time in Kansas City can be graded as incomplete. But he has an opportunity this season to change the minds of his detractors.
Here are three reasons why Matt Cassel is poised for a bounce-back season in 2012.
Acquiring Matt Cassel was the first major move general manager Scott Pioli made upon arriving in Kansas City prior to the 2009 season. Since then, Cassel has been through five offensive coordinators (including this season) and a head coach in Todd Haley who he never got along with (Haley was let go prior to Week 15 of last season).
But with the 2012 season finally comes a sense of stability for the Chiefs and Cassel. New head coach Romeo Crennel had the interim tag lifted after replacing Haley, and new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has a history with Pioli and Cassel in New England. Being comfortable with the right system is just as important as being talented at times.
After leading the Chiefs to two touchdown drives to open their first preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals on Friday night, Cassel might just be finding his groove in Kansas City.
Matt Cassel won't be alone in his journey to help the Kansas City Chiefs put their 2011 season in the rear-view mirror. General manager Scott Pioli orchestrated one of the best offseasons in recent team history in preparation for the 2012 season.
The additions of running back Peyton Hillis and tight end Kevin Boss to go along with wide receivers Dwayne Bowe (assuming he signs his franchise tender), Jon Baldwin, Steve Breaston and Dexter McCluster, running back Jamaal Charles and tight end Tony Moeaki give Cassel a host of options in the offensive attack.
Right tackle Eric Winston was also signed, giving the Chiefs a much better offensive line and more protection for Cassel to spread the ball around.
While it may be hard to keep everyone happy, Cassel will benefit the most from being surrounded by so much talent.
Matt Cassel's time in Kansas City has been a roller coaster. A slow start in 2009 was followed with a 27 touchdown, seven interception campaign in 2010. But with high hopes coming into last season, Cassel fell flat before eventually leaving early in a 17-10 Week 10 loss to the Denver Broncos. He would go on to miss the remainder of the season.
Because of this, the 2012 season could be Cassel's last chance to prove that he can be the franchise quarterback the Chiefs haven't had since Len Dawson.
He has no choice and must perform.
With so much talent now around him, failure to perform and lead the Chiefs to a deep playoff run will most certainly result in general manager Scott Pioli pursuing a different option at quarterback next offseason.
But if 2010 is more the rule than the exception for Cassel, he could buy himself more time as the leader of this team and start to change the minds of his critics around Kansas City and the entire NFL.