Let's face it Chiefs fans, when Kansas City signed Matt Cassel last season, surely you expected more, didn't you?
Cassel finished the 2009 season connecting on only 55% of his passes, threw as many INTs as TDs (16), and had a QB rating of 69.9 (30th in the league). He was sacked 42 times (3rd most), and had a miserable yards per attempt average of only 5.9 (34th in the league). Yes, that's right, there's only 32 teams in the league.
And truthfully, the only statistic that matters is the number four, as in four wins.
Let's look at what needs to change for Cassel to be more successful in 2010.
Did I mention Cassel was sacked 42 times last season? Hey, the guy hangs on to the ball too long, he had receivers who couldn't separate from coverage, and for the most part, the Chiefs were playing from behind all season—a defensive coordinator's dream.
But still, the Chiefs have to do a better job at keeping Cassel upright. One reason Cassel's yds/att average was so low is because he didn't have time to look downfield.
Ryan Lilja and Casey Wiegman are proven veterans who should improve the consistency of the OL. Newly drafted Jon Asamoah will provide some much needed depth.
A healthy Branden Albert will look much better in 2010 and hopefully, the Chiefs find a RT who is not a complete liability. Let's also hope for an improved season from Brian Waters, the second most penalized and 53rd rated overall guard from 2009.
Jamaal Charles rushed for 1120 yards and did not start until game eight last season. His 5.9 ypc was tied for the lead league with Felix Jones.
The Chiefs added Thomas Jones to the mix this offseason. Jones ran for 1402 yards and 14 TDs (both tied for third in the league) in 2009. Though the New York Jets arguably have the best run blocking team in the league, you can't dispute that Jones will help the Chiefs.
Then...let's throw Mr. McCluster in to the mix for grins. I'm not sure Charlie Weis knows exactly what to do with him yet, but the threat of Dexter out of the backfield or quick slanting from the slot may slow some blitzes down a bit.
Defenses will have to honor the run this season and that means better days are ahead for Matt Cassel.
At the start of the 2009 season, perhaps no team fielded a worse receiving corps than the Kansas City Chiefs. The two in-season additions—Bobby Wade and Chris Chambers—suddenly made things not quite as bad.
Oh, but they were still bad. Matt Cassel had 42 dropped passes last season (second only to Aaron Rodgers). Dwayne Bowe trumped his early season "dog house" fiasco by being suspended four games for substance abuse.
It seems the Chiefs kicked every tire possible in 2009 searching for answers. There were also temporary flirtations with the washed up Amani Toomer and Ashley Lelie on top of their already subpar unit.
In other words, a complete trainwreck.
This season, the Chiefs figure to have a pretty well thought out plan, with Bowe and Chambers on the outside, McCluster/Jerheme Urban/Lance Long likely playing the slot, and newly drafted Tony Moeaki challenging Brad Cottam and Leonard Pope at TE.
More toys = more fun.
It's not great, but it's better than what we had. Cassel was much more effective later in the season, partly because he finally had some reliable hands to throw to.
If you want to find the quickest way to make a quarterback look better, it just might be through improving the other side of the ball.
As I mentioned before, the Chiefs were routinely playing from behind in 2009. The defense simply could not get off the field.
The waving arms reminded me of a junior high school team's attempt at the gauntlet drill. Poor field position in addition to the lopsided scores squarely put Cassel and the Chiefs offense in terrible situations.
The Chiefs allowed 3rd down conversions at a 38 percent clip, while only converting 27 percent on offense. They gave up more than 2500 yards on the ground (156 yds/game) and possessed a nearly three-minute deficit in time of possession per game.
If Matt Cassel wants to improve statistically, Romeo Crenell's unit must be more formidable in 2010.
We've heard it all before...In New England, Cassel had a better offensive line, better receivers, and a better defense.
We understand he was playing for a new team, with a new offense, with below average players at best around him.
Still, Cassel needs to improve his decision making, getting rid of the ball on time, and his overall accuracy.
But, as the previous slides show, there are a lot of reasons Cassel struggled in 2009 that were out of his control.
In my opinion, each of those problem areas have improved and I think Cassel's game will follow suit. We don't need a Pro Bowl caliber QB to be contenders, but we do need someone who can keep the chains moving and put some points on the board.