Kansas City Chiefs QB Matt Cassel: Why He's a Darkhorse To Win the MVP Award

Tyler Ward@twardyyyAnalyst IDecember 2, 2010

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 28:  Quarterback Matt Cassel #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs looks on during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on November 28, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Matt Cassel went from being a nobody to a somebody in an instant. The former USC Trojan has made many jaws drop as he is still in progress of completing the best season of his career.

Most fans abandoned the Chiefs ship after last season and when the team took off on a 4-0 start, everyone decided to jump back on—mostly in large part to quarterback Matt Cassel.

The quarterback did not make a single start from the time he graduated high school until 2008, when Patriots starter Tom Brady went down with a torn ACL in Week 1.

The 230th overall pick in the 2005 draft, Cassel only threw 39 passes in his first three seasons.

And then the unfortunate happened.

Against the Chiefs (ironic, huh?), Brady was tackled by Bernard Pollard and the star quarterback suddenly winced in pain. His season would be over, and Cassel, who had rarely played, would come in and be Brady's replacement.

In the little over 15 games Cassel played that season, he threw for 3,693 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

The Patriots would go on to put the franchise tag on Cassel. However, on February 28, 2009, linebacker Mike Vrabel and Cassel were traded to the Chiefs for the 34th overall pick in the draft.

It was one of the weirdest scenarios in the history of the NFL, as most people thought that the Patriots would keep Cassel because Brady's health was uncertain. Assuming Brady would be alright to start the season, the Patriots decided to deal him.

According to reports, the Chiefs weren't the only team that was interested in Cassel—the Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers had attempted to work out a three-team trade with the Denver Broncos, but plans fell apart and Cassel ended up in Kansas City.

On July 14, 2009, the Chiefs agreed with Cassel on terms of a contract worth roughly $62.7 million over six years.

Most people had their doubts, wondering if Cassel was just a product of the system—one that had just seen Brady throw for an NFL-record 50 touchdowns.

The reasoning seemed to be justified as Cassel struggled in his first season in Kansas City. Cassel completed only 55 percent of his passes for 2,924 yards, 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He had a quarterback rating of 69.9.

Cassel was thought to do even worse this season, but there was no sophomore slump.

He had perhaps the worst start of his career in Week 1 against the Chargers, completing only 10-of-22 attempts for 68 yards and one touchdown. Cassel did marginally well the following week against the Browns, while throwing for 176 yards. However, he threw two interceptions, but it is the only multi-interception game thus far for Cassel.

Against the 49ers in Week 3, Cassel threw for 250 yards with three touchdowns and one interception in their 31-10 win. He compiled a 111.6 quarterback rating in the game, the first 100-plus rating game of the season.

After the game Cassel seemed to have literally put everything behind him and hasn't looked back yet.

In their Week 6 loss to the Texans, Cassel did his part, throwing for 201 yards, with three touchdowns and a 122.9 quarterback rating—his second of the season.

He would do even better the following week, completing 13 of 18 passes (72 percent) for 193 yards and two touchdowns, while notching a 144 QB rating.

Cassel's next two games were mediocre, as he combined to go 34 for 61 for 368 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

He had the best game of his career against the Broncos the following week, as he completed 33 of 53 passes for 469 yards and four touchdowns with a healthy 116 QB rating. It would be the first of back-to-back-to-back games with at least a 100 quarterback rating.

In their Week 11 win against the Cardinals, Cassel went 15 for 24 for 193 yards and two touchdowns. The Chiefs, as a team, struggled against the Seahawks the next week, but Cassel still remained on fire, as he completed 22 of 32 passes for 233 yards and four touchdowns.

Through 11 games this season, Cassel has thrown for only 2,307 yards, 19th in the NFL. However, he has thrown for 22 touchdowns, which is tied for fifth—he also has a 99.7 quarterback rating, which ranks fourth in the NFL.

The passing yards may not be there, but everything else is.

Cassel has managed to keep his team in almost every single game, as Kansas City is 7-4 and leading the AFC West.

He has also managed to make receiver Dwayne Bowe have a career season, as he has completely dominated other teams, especially in the last seven games. For the year, Bowe has 58 receptions for 885 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Thus far, Cassel is definitely looking like an MVP candidate. He has done everything the Chiefs have asked him to do, along with much more.

I wouldn't be surprised to hear Cassel's name be announced at the end of the season as the MVP of the National Football League. There may be some other players who have outperformed Cassel, but when it comes down to it, he is one of the front runners for the award.

And with the numbers he's put up, he deserves it.

And maybe he can play the dark-horse card and squeeze by at the very end to steal the award. I know the Chiefs fans are hoping that it happens.


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