From Arrowhead Stadium
Matt Cassel was frustrated.
There were 71 seconds to play in the first half and the Chiefs were trying to make something happen in a two-minute offensive drill before they went to the locker room.
A timeout was called with 1 minute, 11 seconds to play. After conferring on the sidelines with the coaches, Cassel called the play in the huddle and when the offense broke for the line of scrimmage somebody was in a spot they were not supposed to be. We don’t know who, because Cassel and head coach Todd Haley wouldn’t identify the player.
But Cassel signaled for another timeout. Only one problem: the offense is not allowed to call back-to-back timeouts. Instead, the Chiefs got slapped with a five-yard delay of game penalty. Two incompletions later, the ball was punted back to the Rams.
Frustration overwhelmed his common sense and knowledge of the rules.
“We had a formation problem, I was trying to get them set up and the clock was running down and little did I think about the fact we were coming off a timeout,” said Cassel. “I just have to do a better job in that situation.”
It was that kind of unusual day for the Chiefs quarterbacks. Cassel started, but then in the second quarter he gave way to Tyler Palko for one series. Then, Cassel went back in and finished up the half. Ricky Stanzi started the second half and played until late in the fourth quarter when Palko returned.
The changes went as they were scripted by head coach Todd Haley in the name of evaluating his players with roster moves looking in the next week.
“Tyler had not been in there with our core players,” said Haley. “We decided to give him a series with our core guys to get a good evaluation. It had nothing to do with Matt; of course he wants to play all the time and we got to get him ready too.”
Cassel is more than willing to live with the changes because he knows how important having those two backup QBs ready to go if needed.
“Coach Haley wants to do it a certain way and I think we are all on board with that,” Cassel said of the Chiefs approach. “We have to be more disciplined. We can’t have these penalties. That puts us in a tough spot, a lot of third and long situations. It’s hard to convert on third and long. We need to do a better job and stay out of those situations and be disciplined.
“I think it’s something that’s a great tool for these young guys that at any point they could be in the game. I think that was something he utilized today and Tyler went in there and got a series out of the blue. It was good and for me it’s about making sure those young guys get work and I’m ready to go back in.”
So unusual has this pre-season been that Cassel is now the only Chiefs quarterback that has not thrown a touchdown pass. Palko got his last week in Baltimore, and Stanzi connected on a pretty 32-yard scoring pass with TE Cody Slate.
What’s the take on Cassel’s play overall?
“I thought there were signs of progress,” said Haley. “In pressure he got out of a couple of sacks and made a play. That’s something we’ve been emphasizing and that was a good sign.”
But what wasn’t a good sign was Haley’s starting quarterback calling for an illegal timeout.
“That was disappointing,” said Haley. “We have to make sure everybody is aware of the rule and make sure something like that doesn’t happen.”