Cassel Faces A Challenge … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

The question to Matt Cassel was germane and on the mark:

“Do you feel your level of play escalates going against a guy like Peyton Manning?”

Cassel didn’t hesitate with his answer either.

“Well, it should,” Cassel said. “You try to get yourself up for the challenge there is no doubt about that. You know you are going against one of the best and you have to embrace that challenge because what is what we are all here for – to play against the best.”

Well Cassel faces the chance to play against the best on Sunday when the Chiefs face the Colts in Indianapolis. This will not be Philip Rivers in the rain, or Seneca Wallace in Cleveland or a struggling Alex Smith with the 49ers. This is the man who is in the discussion when it comes to greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

If the Chiefs are able to go 4-0, it will only be with a good performance from Cassel. We aren’t talking about matching the numbers Manning throws up on Sunday; that’s a bit out of reach for not only Cassel, but the Chiefs offense at this point in its development. The Colts are 2-2, but they still have Manning, WR Reggie Wayne, TE Dallas Clark, RB Joseph Addai and a handful of young, talented receivers like Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon and Anthony Gonzalez.

The numbers that will be important for Cassel will be improving his completion percentage, successfully throwing the ball on third down and making sure he does not throw an interception. To beat Manning, an opponent can’t provide him with more opportunities with the ball.

“Everything goes around this quarterback, Peyton Manning,” said head coach Todd Haley, in one of the great understatements of the season.

Cassel knows how good the Colts quarterback is. He’s watched him for years, even pretended he was Manning for three years when he was a backup quarterback with the Patriots and became No. 18 in practice.

“I think the main thing I always take away is his consistency week in and week out,” Cassel said of Manning. “He is consistent, he knows where he wants to go with the ball, he makes good decisions and he is accurate and he wins. That is all you can ask for from a quarterback.”

There has not been any reason over the six years that Cassel has been in the league for anyone to connect Manning and Cassel.

The guy in the blue jersey is considered either No. 1 or No. 1-A when the discussion of NFL quarterbacks is held. As long as injury does not intervene, Manning will finish his career as the most prolific and productive passer in the game’s history. He was a college All-America, the first player taken in the 1998 NFL Draft, has 10 trips to the Pro Bowl and has started a pair of Super Bowls, including a victory.

Cassel did not start a game in college. He was the 230th player taken in the 2005 NFL Draft and has not been part of the Pro Bowl at any time.

But … you knew there would be a well-placed but coming up … there is a history these two quarterbacks share. In his first 33 starts as an NFL quarterback, Manning’s team was 17-16. In his first 33 starts as an NFL quarterback, Cassel’s team was 17-16.

That’s right – Manning and Cassel led their team to identical records at the opening of the career as starters. Of course, it wasn’t the first 33 starts that have made Manning an NFL icon. It’s the 181 starts since then where he’s made his mark. Cassel’s start No. 34 comes on Sunday.

“He is a great player and it is always fun to watch him on film and see him,” Cassel said. “I remember being a young quarterback trying to emulate him.”

Here are the numbers for the first 33 starts by Manning and Cassel:

 Player

 

Att.

 

Cmp.

 

%

 

Yds.

Avg.

Att.

 

TD

 

INT

Sacks/

Yards

 

Record

Manning

1,140

679

59.6

8,147

7.2

53

44

37/231

17-16

Cassel

1,068

571

53.5

6,959

6.5

40

30

91/472

17-16

There is nothing surprising in those numbers for an inexperienced NFL starting quarterback, other than they both had very good TD to INT ratios for up and coming passers. The most remarkable difference comes in the sacks they had to endure, a difference of 54 between them. That despite the fact Manning was and remains far less mobile than Cassel; that can be seen in their rushing numbers over those 33 starts. Manning ran 53 times for 132 yards and two TD runs; Cassel ran 127 times for 462 yards and two TDs.

Matt Cassel is not Peyton Manning and never will be. To expect that would be to pour gasoline on a fire that already rages with fans and media who think Cassel can’t get the job done.

This Sunday, Cassel must close what is a very wide gap between himself and No. 18. He doesn’t have to match him. He doesn’t have to try to become him.

But the Chiefs don’t win in Indy if Matt Cassel doesn’t make a big contribution.

NFL PERSONNEL FILE FOR WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 6

  • AFC – named Jets RB LaDainian Tomlinson offensive player of the week, Chargers LB Shaun Phillips defensive player of the week and Jaguars K Josh Scobee special teams player of the week.
  • NFC – named Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw offensive player of the week, Packers CB Charles Woodson defensive player of the week and Falcons K Matt Bryant special teams player of the week.
  • BEARS – QB Jay Cutler returned to practice on Wednesday, after recovering from a Sunday night concussion.
  • BILLS – released TE Joe Klopfenstein.
  • CARDINALS – will start rookie QB Max Hall this Sunday against the Saints.
  • CHARGERS – released DE Alfonso Boone.
  • DOLPHINS – released injured DE Lionel Dotson.
  • PACKERS – have lost LB Nick Barnett for the rest of the season due to a wrist injury that will require surgery. He suffered the injury last Sunday.
  • REDSKINS – have lost RB Clinton Portis for four to six weeks due to a groin injury; re-signed P Hunter Smith.
  • TEXANS – released G Shelley Smith.
  • VIKINGS – acquired WR Randy Moss from the Patriots in a trade for a 3rd-round choice in the 2011 NFL Draft.

6 Responses to “Cassel Faces A Challenge … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • October 7, 2010  - Jimbo says:

    We can’t afford a Matt Cassel slow start on Sunday. Like Bob says, he needs to contribute big time.(in Matt Cassel terms)
    I will have to admit Manning is pure magic when he has the ball in his hands. His accuracy & timing is uncanny. This is one of those weeks I will not be marveling his gift. We must disrupt his timing as we don’t have a snowballs chance to disrupt his accuracy.
    Go Chiefs.


  • October 7, 2010  - jim says:

    As previously stated, Crennell’s approach to the Colts has been to rush four guys, bring the nickel, bend but don’t break – field goals in stead of TDs, and then go to work with our offense.

    I think the more your bring the blitz, the more you play into Mannings ability to burn you. It’s a double edged sword when you brint it to Manning. Hopefully we can get him moving around in the pocket and disrupt him with good coverage.


  • October 7, 2010  - Nate says:

    Peyton Manning is the best regular season QB in history. In the playoffs he has lost as many games as he has won. He is not one of the greatest QB’s of all times because of his failures in the post season.


  • October 7, 2010  - PAChiefsFan says:

    Bob, with the labor dispute going on and the threat of no 2011 season seemingly becoming more and more of a reality does the 2011 draft still take place? And while no team will benefit from a lost season what is your opinion on how it will affect a team like the Chiefs who seem to be turning the corner and heading in the right direction. Will it have a major, minor or no impact on their mission?


  • October 7, 2010  - Jimbo says:

    Great Questions PAChiefsFan. Bobs answer should be very interesting.
    Go Chiefs.


  • October 7, 2010  - aPauled says:

    The Sack differential comes down to decision making. Peyton reads a D from the time the previous play was finished and quickly decides what to do with the ball. Cassel is still learning and needs to get quicker in his reads and decision making.




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