The Ground Is Crumbling Under Matt Cassel?

From Arrowhead Stadium

When the head coach walks into his post-game press conference and brings the subject up, then it’s obviously a story line coming from the Chiefs 37-20 loss to San Diego on Sunday.

“I know that there will be some questions about the quarterback,” Romeo Crennel said a few minutes into his comments to the media afterwards. “I am staying with the quarterback and I stayed with him during the course of the game. I stayed with (Jamaal) Charles during the course of the game and we are going to stay with both of them going forward, at the moment.”

Oh, those last three words have left the door open for everyone to discuss the future of Matt Cassel as the Chiefs starting quarterback. “At the moment,” is not exactly a vote of confidence for Cassel.

Not that he should be due one at this point. Cassel’s production and numbers rank among the worst quarterbacks in the league after four games. That’s not what the Chiefs expected or need from their four-year starter. He’s completing 58.4 percent of his passes (94 of 161), gaining 6.6 yards per attempt (1,058 yards), with 5 touchdown passes and 7 interceptions. His passer rating is an ugly 70.3.

The worst number overall is 10, the number of turnovers by Cassel with those 7 interceptions and 3 lost fumbles.

Sunday, Cassel had three interceptions and the Chiefs offense spent most of the first three quarters going nowhere. Did Crennel consider yanking his starter?

“Well, whether I was considering it or not doesn’t make a difference,” Crennel said. “It’s hypothetical,. I didn’t make the change and I’m staying with that.”

But why stick with Cassel when he’s not playing well?

“Because I think he still can do some good things,” Crennel said. “The second half we tried to rally a little bit and we were able to move the ball down the field. We had a spark of life and he was the one that helped that spark.

“That’s some of the decisions a head coach has to make and you have to go with your gut feeling and what you know about your team and move forward with it.”

Cassel was asked if the head coach had talked to him about making a change at quarterback. “No, he didn’t,” Cassel said.

Victimized on one of his interceptions by his receiver (Dexter McCluster), Cassel was standing directly in front of the arrows as they were fired after the game.

“Turnovers have been killing us and I myself have to take better care of the ball,” Cassel said. “Obviously it starts with me.”

Maybe, or at least “at this time” it starts with him. How long that time might be is the question that waits to be answered.

Romeo Crennel opened the door. Will he walk through it?

4 Keys To Chiefs Beating Chargers/Recap

From Arrowhead Stadium

Here’s a look at the 4 pre-game keys to a Chiefs victory on Sunday and whether they achieved those items. There are three possible grades: Mission Accomplished, Push and, Failed Assignment.

4

Cassel needs to improve his accuracy

With any quarterback, as he gains playing time his throwing accuracy should improve from year-to-year, even game-to-game. More than yardage, a passer’s completion percentage along with TD passes and interceptions are the key statistical categories to judge his play and rate of success. It’s only 3 games, but Matt Cassel has not improved his accuracy from last year. His first year with the Chiefs (2009) Cassel completed 55 percent of his passes. The next season that went to 58.2 percent and then last year it was 59.5 percent before he missed the last 7 games with a broken hand. Right now, Cassel has fallen off to 58.8 percent. It’s not so much just missing passes; it’s the ramifications of some of his throws, especially the high throws. Yes, WR Dwayne Bowe drops passes, but last Sunday he was also open several times and balls sailed over his head; he got blasted in New Orleans and turned upside down going high for a Cassel throw. WR Dexter McCluster suffered his elbow injury because of a poor throw from Cassel. He needs to improve.

OUTCOME – Failed, as Cassel hit 57 percent of his throws and was at fault on two of his three interceptions. There’s something missing with Cassel’s accuracy and it’s not improving. In fact, it’s going in the other direction.

3

Give up nothing to San Diego returners

The Chiefs have not been able to produce much of anything in the return game with kickoffs and punts. That’s not ideal, but they can live with that as long as they do not allow returns on punts and kickoffs. They gave up an 88-yard punt return touchdown against Buffalo and in the opener gave up a 77-yard kickoff return. Last week was more like it, as they were able to hold Darren Sproles from picking up any big returns. San Diego has very good return potential on its roster with Eddie Royal, Michael Spurlock and Richard Goodman. All three have scored return touchdowns in the NFL, Royal and Spurlock have 3 each and Goodman had a 105-yard kickoff return TD last year. So far this season, they’ve not produced much, just a 6-yard average on 5 punt returns and a 25.9-yard average on 7 kickoff returns. The K.C. special teams need to make sure they sustain those types of numbers on Sunday.

OUTCOME – Accomplished, as the Chargers did not get much done on punt and kickoff returns Sunday. The longest return was for 33 yards on a kickoff and the return game did not help San Diego in field position.

2

Make Philip Rivers do the football Riverdance

San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers is a fidgety guy. I’m sure he was probably one of those little kids that drove his parents crazy because he never stopped all day. Most of that behavior on the football field, especially concerning his feet, was under control until last season. Spooked by what has become a pretty shabby offensive line and constantly trying to get out of trouble, Rivers threw 20 interceptions, the highest single season total of his career. This year in three games, he has already thrown 3 picks and while the Chiefs defense is not exactly plucking balls out of the air on a regular basis, they know enough about Rivers that they should be able to increase their total of one interception for the season. In 13 games against the Chiefs, Rivers has thrown 14 interceptions. That’s far more than any other opponent over his career, as Oakland has picked him off nine times and Denver got seven. The Chiefs need to get a few more from Rivers on Sunday.

OUTCOME – Failed, as they sacked Rivers three times, but overall did not make him nervous enough. When Rivers starts moving when he’s trying to throw the ball, bad things generally happen because he’s not very quick.

1

Keep the running game humming

The Chiefs are built to run the ball. The more they run, the better the production of the entire offense. Some may think the NFL is all about passing, but teams that can’t run the ball are going to have a hard time consistently challenging opponents and winning games. Right now the Chiefs are No. 1 in the NFL in rushing, putting up an average of 191.7 yards per game or 11 yards a game more than the team at No. 2, Washington. On the flipside, San Diego has done a good job this year against the run, allowing just 67.3 yards per game – they allowed Oakland 45 yards in the opener, Tennessee got 38 in game No. 2 and then last Sunday it was 119 yards for Atlanta. They are No. 4 in fewest rushing yards allowed per game. The Chiefs O-Line along with the tight ends and fullback Nate Eachus must find ways to pound the rock against the Chargers 3-4 front.

OUTCOME – Push, as they were pulled out of running by the score, but went to it enough that Jamaal Charles ran for 92 yards, including a brilliant 37-yard touchdown run.

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