I am a fan of Matt Cassel. Anyone who vaguely follows any of the articles I have written knows that I like Matt Cassel. I think that Cassel has the skills that are necessary to be a very good quarterback for the Chiefs as they build a playoff contender.
But, as I watched the first half of Sunday's game against the Falcons I began to think I was watching a high school kid who was surprised as he watched his efforts actually succeed.
I have been a coach in youth baseball and football. Most of the kids who play the game are not completely sure of their abilities and experience great joy when something they do works out the right way. The yell and jump up and down and congratulate themselves.
Watching Matt Cassell celebrate in such an exuberant manner after the Chiefs marched down the field and matched the Falcons score for score in that first half took me back to my days as a coach of youth sports.
It also gave me a bad feeling about the second half of the game, and those feelings became reality as the Chiefs' quarterback made errors and the Chiefs fell behind in the scoring frenzy.
That youthful enthusiasm is fun to watch. The problem is the rebound effect and something that coaches try to educate those young players to overcome. The rebound is depression and the feeling of wanting to quit when the success turns to failure.
Failure is a big part of sports. Even the greatest players experience as much failure as they do success. Lesser players mostly experience failure. How a player handles failure is what determines their greatness.
The great players put failure behind them and find success again. The rest feed on the failure and let that failure manifest additional failure.
Matt Cassel is on the wrong side of that mental and emotional ride, at least judging by the results of the first game of this season. Don't misread this article. I still believe in Matt Cassel, but I was watching a quarterback Sunday that showed me a lack of maturity—well, an NFL level of maturity anyway.
The Cassel haters are going to jump all over this and maybe even congratulate me on realizing what they would say is obvious. And should what I witnessed Sunday continue into the season, I will have to give the haters their due.
In my opinion, Matt Cassel has the skill set to be a very good QB in the NFL. Does he have the right level of maturity? After watching Sunday's game against the Falcons, I am on the sidelines waiting to see what happens for the next four to six weeks.
Did last year's experience with failure and injury expose the lack of maturity in a quarterback that can succeed with the right mindset?
Success in major league sports takes nerves of steel and the ability to forget failure and forget it fast.
I will reserve judgement on Matt Cassel until this season begins to play out. As a fan of the Chiefs QB I hope he finds the steel that is needed to play at a high level in the NFL.
The youthful enthusiasm that was displayed Sunday will not work.