It has been a horror show of a season so far for Kansas City. In eight quarters of football, they have scored a mere 10 points and shipped a massive 89. Having started the season without start tight end Tony Moeaki, they've now also lost starting safety Eric Berry and possibly their most potent offensive threat of all, running back Jamaal Charles, as well. Essentially, three of the key elements of the side that reached the playoffs last year have gone before the season is 120 minutes old.
That alone doesn't explain the Chiefs' lack of points though. As of this week, they rank 32nd in points scored and in passing yards throughout the NFL, and they rank 30th in total yardage gained. That they are not last in that category is down to ranking seventh in running yards, but of the 259 yards gained there, exactly one-third came from Charles before he was injured.
Whenever a side splutters on offense, it is natural to look to the man under center as the cause of the problem, and Matt Cassell's stats tell a story of their own. Last season, Cassell threw 27 TDs and only seven interceptions. Already this season, he's been picked off four times. He's also lost a fumble, which is as many as he lost in the entire 2010 season. And tellingly, his quarterback rating has plummeted from 93.0 to only 50.4.
Whilst it is always risky to write off any player based upon only a handful of games, Cassell's dip in form is as surprising as his initial rise to fame was in 2008, when he took over the Patriots after Tom Brady's knee ruptured in the opening game and almost led them to the playoffs.
In fact, that dip is eerily reminiscent of another quarterback who came from almost nowhere, this time in 2007. Derek Anderson was the Cleveland Browns' triggerman, an average quarterback in a below-average side. In 2007, though, he suddenly exploded, throwing 29 touchdowns, forcing his way into a starting role and eventually earning a trip to the Pro Bowl. Two years later, he threw 10 interceptions, only three touchdowns, lost his place as a starter and ended the season with a QB rating of 42.1—almost half what it had been in 2007. He's now backing up Cam Newton in Carolina.
As I said, it is too soon to write off Cassell. But the comparison between him and Anderson—the high interception-to-touchdown ratio, the plummeting passer rating and so on—is obvious. Kansas has had enough problems already this season; they need the old Matt Cassell back—and fast.