A Less Than Happy Ending For The Cassel Era

You will hear it from anybody that had anything to do with Matt Cassel – he was a good guy, an upstanding man, a person that did all the right things save one:

Protecting the football.

If there’s one reason that Cassel’s career with the Chiefs came to an end on Thursday, it was the giveaways. He played 48 games, and threw 44 interceptions and fumbled 30 times, with 25 recovered by opponents.

That’s 69 turnovers in those 48 games. In his career, he’s given it away 89 times in 78 games with the Chiefs and Patriots.

With that type of track record, there was no possibility Andy Reid was going to allow Cassel to be involved in the quarterback picture for 2013. As an offensive-minded coach, Reid is always looking for a quarterback that protects the football.

That’s even more important for the 2013 Chiefs. This is a point that we’ll drive home for the better part of the next nine months – the Chiefs have to learn how to win again. If that’s going to happen, they can’t give the ball away on offense; when that happens there is a considerable drop in the odds of being able to win a game.

In defense of Cassel, he came to a team that was dysfunctional in the front office and coaching ranks. He had coordinator after coordinator, from Chan Gailey, to Todd Haley, Charlie Weis, Bill Muir and Brian Daboll. That’s four seasons, five coordinators. He had a head coach that liked to scream (Haley) and then one that seldom said a word (Romeo Crennel). His options in the passing game beyond Dwayne Bowe were few and far between.

All of those were hurdles for Cassel and hurt his chances. But they pale in comparison to the two biggest reasons it didn’t work out with the Chiefs. First, he was Scott Pioli’s “boy”, the guy that the banished general manager made the foundation of his regime. It’s wasn’t Cassel’s fault that Pioli gave him a 6-year, $63 million contract before he even took a single regular-season snap in the Chiefs offense. There have been a lot of poor financial decisions made in the football operation over the last four years, but that one was the worst. It was a mistake in player evaluation and it was a mistake in financial acumen.

The expectations for any starting quarterback are huge. But the circumstances for Cassel with that contract grew far out of proportion to his experience and ultimately his abilities.

The No. 2 reason is what hurt him the most – the giveaways. There were balls that clanged off the hands of his receivers, bouncing into the waiting arms of opponents. There were a number of jump balls thrown at the end of the half or game. It’s always unfair that only the quarterback gets blamed on the stat page for those types of plays.

But that doesn’t cover all of the 44 interceptions and 25 fumbles and that’s what doomed Cassel and his chances to be the quarterback Chiefs fans have hoped for over the better part of the last 40 years.

There are those that still believe he can play the game. He was out of work less than 12 hours; he signed a 1-year contract for $4 million with the Minnesota Vikings. The deal includes an option on a second season, one that Cassel can void. No matter the public spin out of Vikings headquarters, Cassel has been told he’ll get the chance to compete for the starting job with Christian Ponder. Considering Ponder’s performances, Cassel has a chance to be the starter.

But in Kansas City he becomes just another failed successor to the torch carried by Len Dawson through the 1975 season. It’s a motley crew of 25 quarterbacks that’s come through the tunnel at Arrowhead Stadium in the last 37 seasons. There were some minor successes here and there, but it’s largely a history of ineffective performances like Cassel.

Chiefs starting quarterbacks 1976-2012

Quarterback Seasons*

Starts

Record**

Playoffs

Acquired
Mike Livingston 1976-79

43

11-32

0

2nd Rnd – 1968
Tony Adams 1977-78

5

1-4

0

Street FA – 1975
Steve Fuller 1979-82

31

13-18

0

1st Rnd – 1979
Bill Kenney 1980-88

78

34-44

0

Street FA – 1979
Todd Blackledge 1983-87

25

13-12

0-1

1st Rnd – 1983
Matt Stevens 1987

2

0-2

0

Street FA – 1987
Doug Hudson 1987

1

0-1

0

7th Rnd – 1987
Steve DeBerg 1988-91

55

32-22-1

1-2

Trade – 1988
Ron Jaworski 1989

3

1-2

0

Street FA – 1989
Steve Pelluer 1989

3

1-1-1

0

Trade – 1989
Mark Vlasic 1991

1

0-1

0

Street FA – 1991
Dave Krieg 1992-93

22

13-9

0-1

Plan B FA – 1992
Joe Montana 1993-94

29

19-10

2-2

Trade – 1993
Steve Bono 1994-96

32

21-11

0-1

Trade – 1994
Rich Gannon 1996-98

19

11-8

0

Street FA – 1995
Elvis Grbac 1997-2000

48

26-22

0-1

UFA – 1997
Warren Moon 2000

1

0-1

0

Street FA – 1999
Trent Green 2001-06

90

48-42

0-2

Trade – 2001
Damon Huard 2006-08

21

10-11

0

Street FA – 2004
Brodie Croyle 2007-10

10

0-10

0

3rd Rnd – 2006
Tyler Thigpen 2008

11

1-10

0

Waivers – 2008
Matt Cassel 2009-12

48

19-29

0-1

Trade – 2009
Tyler Palko 2011

4

1-3

0

Street FA – 2010
Kyle Orton 2011

3

2-1

0

Waivers – 2011
Brady Quinn 2012

8

1-7

0

UFA – 2012

*-seasons where he made at least one start at QB. **-includes starts in playoffs.


7 Responses to “A Less Than Happy Ending For The Cassel Era”

  • March 15, 2013  - johnfromfairfax says:

    Best of luck to Matt in his new opportunity. There were lot’s of reasons as Bob detailed for his inability to win consistently in KC. Some of it of his making and some out of his control. I was a Cassel supporter but eventually had to concede that his detractors were right. There were shortcomings that were obvious over time that made it difficult for him to become an elite passer.

    The bottom line is he didn’t get it done and the new coach and GM observed and measured his performance and found him lacking. Despite what some have said and written I think we’ve upgraded this critical position and at this point as Ronnie Dunn sang, I believe. The only consistency provided by the last regime was hubris and dashed expectations. We are more than ready for change and from all appearances so far are getting it. Let the Smith and Reid era begin.


  • March 15, 2013  - txchief says:

    Yes, I’ve noticed that being a Chiefs fan has been akin to being a crackhead or meth addict. Once you start down that road, it usually ends badly.

    More good news this morning are the rumors that more teams are interested in taking Geno Smith high up in the draft. The rumors are just on time, beginning right after free agency starts to cool down. The price to move up to the 1-1 draft pick got just a bit higher.


  • March 15, 2013  - ChuckXX says:

    Bob; Another great article by you. You really dig down deep for all those stats. I had almost forgotten just how bad Croyle and Thiggy had been. But when you see their records it kinda tells it all. On a side note you might want to tell Cassel that the FuMan Chu has “gotta go”. He just doesn’t fit the Hulk Hogan profile. Ha-Ha.


  • March 15, 2013  - R W says:

    I count 25 QBs with only 7 of them having a winning record under center for the Chiefs. That’s a 28% success rate which, by anyone’s measuring standards, completely sucks! This stat is probably more telling than any other in assessing why the Chiefs haven’t been to the ‘Bowl since 1970.

    Turnaround time is at hand. I’m on that Alex Smith/Andy Reid bandwagon.


  • March 15, 2013  - Niblick says:

    tx-I read the same thing about the interest in Smith. The Raiders and Jets are supposely both interested. Perhaps the Jets might want to move into our top pick and take Smith. At least, like you said, the price for that top pick may have gone up. I would love to trade down and get more picks.


  • March 15, 2013  - Craig says:

    We had an all pro QB in Rich Gannon but peterson et al made the same mistake as pioli in believing in themselves too much and not the performance on the field. Had Gannon started that playoff game instead of Grbac, we would have won the superbowl. In pride peterson let him go to an afc west rival who eventually won the SB and he won the league MVP.
    Go Chiefs


  • March 15, 2013  - Ernie Barney says:

    Uh, I don’t think Gannon won the SB. But made it none the less.




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