Matt Cassel Kansas City Chiefs

Winning ugly is still winning

The Kansas City Chiefs are 2-0 right now. That’s the good news.

The even better news, the Chiefs really haven’t played well yet.

Yeah, the Monday night game was exciting with the return game and the defense.

Sunday’s win was even uglier against the Cleveland Browns, but honestly, it was ugly all around.

Let’s start with Kansas City’s favorite whipping boy, quarterback Matt Cassel.

Two horrible picks in the first half. Looked ridiculously bad at times. Had trouble completing the ball downfield. Looked like what people are saying he is. However – quick aside – if he’s as horrible as everyone says, why is he even in this league? And how bad is Brodie Croyle that he can’t beat him out? And before you say money, Cassel accomplished more in that one year with the Pats than Croyle ever will. He doesn’t go from close to Pro-Bowler to crap in two years. Something’s not right in that equation.

But as bad as Cassel was in the first half, this team was still in the game at halftime. A friend of mine said, “quarterback is the most important position on the field.” However, I’ll disagree with that in this case – for this team, it’s not. Cassel is not the most important player on the field. Neither is Croyle or whoever lines up under center.

The Chiefs were down at halftime because of two stupid defensive mistakes that led to touchdowns. First: the blown coverage by Eric Berry – his third in two games that has led to a touchdown – allowing Joshua Cribbs to get over the top and behind the defense. If Cribbs gets behind the defense, you’re not going to catch him.

The second came from the coach on the field Mike Vrabel. The Chiefs had forced a stop on third down and were going to give up a field goal, making the score 10-10 at halftime.

That penalty gave the Browns new life. Payton Hillis got the touchdown, Chiefs were down and people were freaking out.

In the second half though – especially the fourth quarter – things turned around. Cassel started hitting receivers. He has turned Tony Moeaki into his security blanket. Dwayne Bowe made an appearance. Chris Chambers made a couple of plays. The running game looked better. Cassel was able to lead the team down the field and they made plays.

After these first two games, these are the big problems that I see – well, besides Cassel. Cassel’s issue is “get better.” I think there are ways to improve his performance, but not many. And I’m not ready for Croyle yet.

1.) Chiefs not getting ball in the hands of their playmakers. Yes, people are freaking out about Jamaal Charles. And they should – though if you take away Charles’ run at the end of the first half, he rushed 10 times for 29 yards. Dexter McCluster only touched the ball in the offense one time. That has to change. Which brings me to No. 2.

2.) Play-calling. This was borderline atrocious at times Sunday. I’ve heard people compare offensive coordinator  Charlie Weis‘s play-calling to Jimmy Raye and I can’t totally disagree. Why do you run Charles on a third and short instead of Thomas Jones? I don’t know. There were several questionable third down calls, even second down calls. I haven’t been sold on Weis yet. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel is a different story. But I digress.

3.) Eric Berry. Yes, he’s making plays. Yes, he’s a rookie. But three of the four touchdowns the Chiefs defense has given up can be at least partially blamed on Berry. He has to continue to get better.

The Chiefs have been a very opportunistic team this year. But you can’t count on a return touchdown of some sort every week. You just can’t. I like how the defensive line has been playing. Derrick Johnson looks hungry. Brandon Flowers looks healthy now. I like this defense.

Weis famously said he was brought here to “fix the quarterback.” The last two NFL quarterbacks he worked with were Brady Quinn – now a third string quarterback who can’t beat out Tim Tebow – and Jimmy Clausen – who can’t get on the field in Carolina.

Cassel has been disappointing in his two years here. The excuses he had last year – poor offensive line, lack of familiarity with receivers/playbook – are not there this year. He needs to be better. No one disagrees with that.

But Cassel is not the only problem this team has. And in two weeks now, the Chiefs have shown they can win in spite of him. How much longer that can continue, I have no idea. We’ll know more Monday night after the San Francisco 49ers – the next opponent – play the New Orleans Saints.

And at 2-0, well, that’s a pretty good place to be. And it’s a place Chiefs fans aren’t too familiar with. Enjoy where you are, enjoy the ride.

And remember. The Scott Pioli/Todd Haley regime has already won as many games in 18 tries as the Carl Peterson era won in its last 32. Things are looking up. This team is going in the right direction. And the Chiefs STILL haven’t played a really good game yet in all facets of the game.

20 Comments Say Something
  • I will be the last guy to defend Weis but Claussen got on the field this weekend. I haven't been impressed with Weis thus far and I don't think he can fix Matt Cassel. It's probably up to #7 himself.

    I'm not ready for Croyle either. It should be known that the Chiefs have never won a game with Brodie Croyle under center. It doesn't mean that he can't but it shows that "the other option" always has a bit of intrigue no matter how bad or useless that option is. That being said, if Cassel is the only player on the field that is giving up the ball, that might need to be stopped down the road.

    It's a lot easier to go about correcting team flaws after a win. Two victory Mondays is a good start to a season!

  • Great read. I disagree with you, of course, about Cassel, but you knew that. Still a great read.

    a few comments:

    1. I honestly believe if Croyle and Cassel had the same contract, Croyle would be playing right now. Rumors swirled last year after week 1 of last year that Haley wanted Croyle.

    2. We won in spite of Cassel. He shouldn't be maliciously ripped because he's winning, true, but he's still been very bad. he even had LOTS of time to throw

    3. We should all be thrilled right now. We are very fortunate that the only big negative we can find right now is Matt Cassel. I'm thrilled that we get SF on a short week after NO will wear them out. if we can get out of the IND/HOU stretch 3-2, we are in GREAT shape. go chiefs baby

  • Yeah, I just saw that. 7/13 with a pick. Yeah, that was sexy against the Bucs. Here's something else to think about. I don't think the Chiefs can be called the worst 2-0 team right now either. Somehow the Bucs are getting it done.

  • Tom, go back again and watch the second half. Cassel was an NFL quarterback in the second half. I think he was 10/12 for 110+ yards. I'll have to go back and look. But some of the throws he made on third down in the second half were what allowed this team to win. Without Cassel playing that well in the second half, Chiefs lose. Plain and simple.

    Tom Brady made a legacy by leading teams to game-winning field goals. That's what Cassel did yesterday. It wasn't as pretty, but when it mattered in the second half, he got the job done.

  • I will go back and look at the game. but uh.. Jones and Cassel kinda proved to me that they cannot lead an offensive drive for a TD. they need Charles. Seriously, through 8 quarters what touchdowns do we have?

    1. A long Jamaaal Charles TD run.

    2. A Dexter McCluster return TD

    3. A Brandon Flowers return TD

    4. A short field TD pass by Cassel to Moeaki after getting the ball well inside enemy territory.

    Cassel has not led a TD drive yet. Neither has Jones. We can't win like that consistently, unless Charles starts to get significantly more carries.

  • Give some of that blame to Weis, who seems to just give the ball to Jones or go for the safe passes immediately after crossing the 50 yard line. It really says something about who should get the ball when it's Jones on first down, Jones on second, a yard to go and Charles gets the ball. It should be in reverse.

    There are and have been teams in the past with two running backs with different styles of play or skills. Weis and Haley have to figure out when to use Jones and when to use Charles. It's not a bad thing at all to give the ball to Jones but Charles should get the ball 20 times.

  • The game-winning FG drive, Cassel looked pretty good and they took the ball out of his hands around the 10, giving it to Jones.

    The problem with giving Charles the ball 20 times is that you also have a back in Jones that needs the ball 20 times to be effective. Charles can be effective with less than 20 carries – as we've seen in the past.

    My thinking is, Weis is wanting to wear down the defense early with Jones, then utilize Charles as the change-of-pace to try to "maximize his effectiveness." Whether that's really what he's doing or not, I'm not sure how it will work down the stretch.

    But regardless, the team is winning. So SOMETHING they are doing is working – even if it is mostly Crennel.

  • of course Cassel can look good at times. he's an NFL QB. but in comparison to most starting NFL QB's, Cassel has been horrid.

    Idk what the difference between the carries of Jones and Charles should be, but I know that Charles should not have half the carries that Jones has.

  • Other than Berry letting Cribbs get past him, I am very happy with the defense… Not to mention those of you homers who take the Chiefs in your fantasy league year in and year out… Cudos!

    On the ofensive side of the ball, I'm ready for someone else at QB. I don't care who, but I want a QB that has the ability, conficence and credibility to change the play when the D obviously has it sniffed out. We don't have this guy on the roster.

    Lastly, I don't understand all of the "Free Charles" talk. Simply put, the ONLY people who are qualified to make the decision at RB are the coaches who watch them practice, work out and game plan each week. I could understand it if Jones wasn't productive, but until the offense went solely into "run-out-the-clock" mode and Cleveland stacked the box, Jones and Charles had identical carries, with Jones at a higher yards per carry.

    I understand, you may like the big play potential of Charles, but I'll take Jones's 3-4 yards then a break for 15 yards over Charles's 1-2 yards and a break for 30 yards… I'll take that all season long!

    Until Matt Cassel begings playing like a real NFL QB, steady and consistent will and should beatout WOW factor every week.

  • RT @ChiefsCommand: Winning ugly is still winning… #NFL #KC #Chiefs Blog by @jasontarwater

  • I'd trade cassel for seneca wallace and not hesitate.

  • Interesting comment by Nick Wright today (not sorry Tom and I reference him so much, he's the best Chiefs guy in the media). He said the reason JC isn't getting a majority of the carries is because we NEED Jones in the huddle as a stabilizing force because this team does not trust Matt Cassel.

  • lotta radio guys have been making that point lately, bill maas made it a big point on the postgame show yesterday

  • @Brian & Tom- That sounds like a familiar statement made repeatedly by yours truly…

  • So, you're telling me that Thomas Jones is in not to wear down the defense and be a workhorse, but to make Dwayne Bowe feel better about life? That's pathetic.

    Fact: Thomas Jones is a very good NFL running back.

    Fact: Jones rushed for 1,400 yards and was a big reason the Jets went as far as they did in the postseason.

    Fact: Charles missed most of OTAs and minicamp with an injury.

    Fact: These are professional athletes. If they REALLY need Thomas Jones in order to have "confidence" despite being 2-0, then this franchise is an even bigger joke than it was during the Peterson era.

    Besides, if Jones is as horrible as people are saying, "why is he even in there, give Charles the ball" then WHY would the players have confidence that he's in there? It's a conflicting statement. He's not really producing a ton statistically. So why would the players have confidence in him?

    Here's a pretty good reason why Weis has Jones in there: He doesn't know what to DO with Charles.

    Look at Weis' teams in New England. Name me the "electric" running back he had there. Antowain Smith and Corey Dillon. MUCH more Thomas Jones like and less Jamaal Charles like.

  • I don't see why there should be JC camps and Jones camps. They are both great running backs in their own way. JC is the better RB but, until they lose, a JC carry saved is a JC carry earned.

    If I were a coach, I would have used him more but as a fan, considering KC won, I am fine that JC didn't take any excessive hits. Of course I would have liked to see him get the ball more but the Chiefs got the win.

    They will probably need JC to get the ball 20 times to win vs SF.

  • If Jamaal Charles is the next Chris Johnson why isn't he getting more touches? This offense is terrible! We can't keep winning playing like this. The schedule is weak, but we will lose to SF and IND, the Broncos could beat us too. I change my preseason prediction to 8-8 from my original 6-10, however; the Chargers still win the division. One thing you all seem to ignore is that every team in our division plays the same weak schedule outside of two games.

    Oh yeah, WHO-DEY… Bengals over Ravens was great!

  • I'd take Jeff Garcia in the UFL over Cassel.

  • I agree with Garcia over Cassel.

  • The Chiefs should have both. KC is stuck with Cassel but there should be some sort of veteran in the mix.

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