The Kansas City Chiefs are a disappointing 1-3 and a big reason for their bad start has been the poor play of quarterback Matt Cassel. Turnovers have been particularly costly for the Chiefs and Cassel has 10 of the team’s 15 turnovers through the first four games.
Fans are growing impatient with Cassel, general manager Scott Pioli and head coach Romeo Crennel. One group of fans will protest the game by flying a banner over the stadium on Sunday. While Pioli and Crennel might be the problem, benching Cassel just makes things worse.
Cassel is not a good starting quarterback, but he’s still the best quarterback available to the Chiefs.
Brady Quinn is basically Cassel three years from now. Ricky Stanzi? Please. There are a few quarterbacks available through free agency, but whether they are better than Cassel is questionable plus there is a steep learning curve at the position.
Benching Cassel only gives Pioli and Crennel a scapegoat for the team’s poor performance. Pioli is the one that brought Cassel in and stuck with him this long. Pioli even had opportunities to bring in a franchise quarterback through the draft and instead squandered those picks. He didn’t even sign a quarterback that was worth starting over Cassel this offseason.
Crennel’s specialty is defense and that side of the ball has also fallen apart. The team that played so hard for him when he was an interim coach looks lost and confused.
It’s clear that the Chiefs have issues and Cassel might not even be the biggest one. It’s not Cassel’s fault that the defense can’t keep the game within two scores or that offensive coordinator Brian Daboll hasn’t been able to run the ball enough.
Cassel has attempted 55 more passes in the first four games than he did 2010, the season he led the Chiefs to the playoffs. This is inexcusable given Kansas City's highly productive running game; the Chiefs are averaging 5.6 yards per carry this season, compared to 4.7 in 2010.
Cassel is throwing the ball more because the Chiefs have had to attempt to come back from down two touchdowns in every game this season, but Daboll needs to resist the urge to go away from the running game. The statistics are obviously skewed because Cassel has been piling up garbage-time stats in three of the four games. Outside of the interceptions, Cassel has actually been a more productive passer than he was in 2010.
If the defense could keep the game close, Daboll could lean on the running game and limit passing plays that would put Cassel in a position to make mistakes. If thing don’t change quickly, it’s going to be a very long season in Kansas City.
The margin of error is razor thin with a quarterback like Cassel, and that should be no surprise to anyone. The only people that seem surprised are Pioli and Crennel. Benching Cassel just makes the offense worse and allows those responsible for the poor play to blame someone other than themselves.
Fans should be supporting Cassel and letting his performance be the iceberg to Pioli’s Titanic. Besides, it’s not like the Chiefs have a better option.