Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

“This is a great challenge for us. It’s an opportunity to show that we’ve grown as a team.”

That was Matt Cassel talking about today’s Chiefs-Steelers game at Arrowhead Stadium. Kickoff is noon and TV coverage is on CBS.

Challenge it certainly is, what with the Chiefs being 2-7 and the Steelers are 6-3. Pittsburgh also happens to be the defending Super Bowl champions, and of course we know the Chiefs are 8-33 over the last three seasons. That’s the biggest reason the gambling point-spread on this game has the Steelers 12 to 13-point favorites.

How much the Chiefs might have grown as a team is debatable. They secured victory No. 2 last Sunday in Oakland and got a great deal of help from the Raiders, who like them are one of the league’s bad teams right now. This meeting is likely to show two things: the Chiefs have grown, and they are still very far, far behind the best teams in the league like Pittsburgh.

With his black and gold roots, Todd Haley does not try to hide his admiration of what the Steelers have done through the years, maintaining their place as a contender each year and winning two of the last four Super Bowl trophies to add to the four from days of yore.

“They’re consistent in all areas – personnel, how they draft, all areas,” Haley said. “They don’t panic. If things don’t go real well early they don’t panic; they’ve proven that over the years. I think that this model would be a great one to follow as would some other teams obviously; New England being one of those teams and Indianapolis, Philadelphia.

“These are teams that have been able to sustain through different players. That’s the key. As players come and go they continue to have guys ready to go and step in. That’s something you’d aspire to be like. I think that’s how you get good: staying the course.”

You also get good in the NFL when you have a quarterback. The Steelers had Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw for those glory years of the 1970s. They now have Ben Roethlisberger, who in five seasons in the league has a pair of Super Bowl rings.

The Chiefs are hoping Cassel will be cut from the same cloth. Eight starts into his Chiefs career, it’s hard to tell just what they have in Cassel. It shouldn’t be a surprise that like the team’s offense and defense, Cassel is still trying to establish his identity.

What makes the evaluation process so hard to tackle with Cassel is the talent around him. This edition of the Chiefs offense has no game breakers; they have few weapons of any caliber. The offense line play is spotty at best. At times, Cassel has displayed the characteristics of an NFL starter. At other times, he’s struggled to make anything work. That’s not unusual for a quarterback who will make only his 24th NFL start when he takes the field against the Steelers.

Evaluating Cassel’s numbers from his first eight starts last year in relief of Tom Brady with the Patriots compared to his first eight starts with the Chiefs produces only a few kernels of insight. Mostly it tells us that when a quarterback has Randy Moss and Wes Welker as receivers, he’s going to be more accurate and make more big plays than if his choices are Dwayne Bowe, Mark Bradley, Bobby Wade and Lance Long.

All the detailed numbers come up later but here are the totals:

 

  Att.

  Cmp.

%

Yards

Yds. Att.

  TD   INT    Sacked Record
Patriots first 8 starts ’08

246

165

67.1

1,648

6.7

6

7

27-125y

5-3

Chiefs first 8 starts ’09

259

144

55.6

1,472

5.7

12

5

30-172y

2-6

Cassel got off to a slow start in his first opportunity to regularly play last year; throwing just two TD passes in his first four starts and only six in his first eight. This year there have been games (at Philadelphia and vs. San Diego) where he and the passing game disappeared from the radar screen and didn’t even break 100 yards in passing the ball.

And now, one of his favorite receivers is gone, as WR Dwayne Bowe serves a four-game NFL suspension.

Against the Steelers, Cassel faces a defense that loves to bedevil even the most experienced quarterbacks, ones that have talented playmakers at their disposal.

“They have a lot of veteran players on that team that have played together for a long period of time and I think they all know the scheme,” Cassel said of the Pittsburgh defense. “They’re very sound in what they do, their coverages; they all know where they’re supposed to go. Their spot-drops are perfect. It’s consistently a great defense year-in and year-out because of a number of reasons, not only because of the players that they have, but they know how to play within that system.”

He saw the Steelers last year and it wasn’t pretty. In his 11th NFL start, Cassel completed 49 percent of his passes, threw two interceptions, was sacked five times and finished with a 39.4 passer rating as the Patriots lost by 23 points. That was with Moss and Welker, who combined eight catches for 75 yards.

“As a QB, this is definitely one of the toughest teams that you have to prepare for because of all the looks and the different personnel groups. You really just have to hone in and concentrate and everybody has to be on their game in order to beat this team. From an offensive standpoint you have to make big plays, like I said, you have to be able to take advantage of those opportunities

How much Cassel has grown as a quarterback since that first game against the Steelers 51 weeks ago will be visible on Sunday at Arrowhead. If it’s not, then the day will be long and losing for the Chiefs.

FIRST EIGHT STARTS FOR MATT CASSEL/2008

 Date  Opponent    Att.    Cmp.

 

%

    Yds. Yds.
Att.
   TD  INT     Sacked  Outcome
9/14 @ NY Jets

23

16

69.6

165

7.2

0

0

4-9y

W 19-10
9/21 Miami

31

19

61.3

131

6.9

1

1

4-17y

L 13-38
10/5 @ San Fran

32

22

68.8

259

8.1

1

2

5-26y

W 30-21
10/12 @ San Diego

38

22

57.9

203

5.3

0

1

4-10y

L 10-30
10/20 Denver

23

18

75.0

185

8.0

3

0

6-38y

W 41-7
10/26 St. Louis

33

21

63.6

267

8.1

1

2

3-17y

W 23-16
11/2 @ Indy

34

25

73.5

204

6.0

0

1

0

L 15-18
11/9 Buffalo

32

22

68.8

234

7.3

0

0

1-8y

W 20-10
  Totals

246

165

67.1

1,648

6.7

6

7

27-125y

5-3

FIRST EIGHT STARTS FOR MATT CASSEL/2009

 Date  Opponent    Att.    Cmp.

 

%

    Yds. Yds.
Att.
   TD    INT     Sacked  Outcome
9/20 Oakland

39

24

61.5

241

6.2

1

2

2-5y

L 10-13
9/27 @ Phil

18

14

77.8

90

5.0

2

0

3-19y

L 14-34
10/4 N.Y. Giants

32

15

46.9

127

4.0

2

0

5-39y

L 16-27
10/11 Dallas

41

23

56.1

253

6.2

2

0

4-21y

L 20-26
10/18 @ Wash

31

16

51.6

186

6.0

0

0

5-28

W 14-6
10/25 San Diego

25

10

40.0

97

3.9

1

3

5-18

L 7-37
11/8 @ Jax

39

23

59.9

262

6.7

2

0

3-21

L 21-24
11/15 @ Oakland

34

19

55.9

216

6.4

2

0

3-21

W 26-10
  Totals

259

144

55.6

1,472

5.7

12

5

30-172y

2-6

SIGNINGS, INJURIES & MOVEMENT AROUND THE LEAGUE

  • JAGUARS – released S Brian Russell; signed OL Paul McQuistan.
  • SAINTS – will be without RB Reggie Bush and DE Sedrick Ellis for Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers because of knee injuries.
  • TITANS – Out of Monday night’s game against the Texans are WR Justin Gage and LB Colin Allred.

FROM THE PAGES OF CHIEFS HISTORY

On November 22, 1964, the Chiefs beat the Houston Oilers 28-19 at Jeppesen Stadium in Houston. The Chiefs jumped to a 21-3 lead during the first half and controlled the tempo of the game from there. QB Len Dawson threw three touchdown passes, hitting TE Fred Arbanas twice for 19 and 26 yards and connecting with WR Chris Burford for a five-yard score. RB Mack Lee Hill (right) had a two-yard TD run and finished the game with 156 rushing yards on 25 carries. The KC defense had three interceptions, two by FS Johnny Robinson.

On November 22, 1970, the Chiefs tied the St. Louis Cardinals 6-6 at Municipal Stadium. It was a defensive battle when these cross-state teams faced each other for the first time in the regular season. Jan Stenerud had field goals of 39 and 15 yards and Cardinals K Jim Bakken hit a 49-yarder and then a 14-yard FG with less than two minutes to play that tied the game. RB Ed Podolak was the only offense the Chiefs had, gaining 112 yards on 23 carries. LB Jim Lynch picked off a Jim Hart pass.

On November 22, 1981, the Chiefs hammered the Seattle Seahawks 40-13 at Arrowhead Stadium. It was one of the Chiefs most dominating performances of the season, as they scored the first six times they had the ball on offense and did not punt until only 12 seconds remained in the game. FB Billy Jackson had a pair of short TD runs, while QB Bill Kenney threw two TD passes, going 14 yards to WR J.T. Smith and two yards to TE Willie Scott. The Chiefs defense contributed a 46-yard interception return for a TD by rookie safety Lloyd Burruss. FB James Hadnot (left) ran for 106 yards on 10 carries

On November 22, 1987, the Chiefs fell to the Green Bay Packers 23-3 at Arrowhead Stadium, with a crowd of 34,611 watching. It was the ninth-straight loss for the Chiefs and they were done in by their offense that produced just 201 yards and no touchdowns. The KC defense allowed less than 300 yards, but they gave up three touchdowns. Frank Seuer started again at quarterback for the Chiefs and struggled, hitting 13 of 32 for 107 yards and one interception. He was sacked five times. The game extended to 13 the number of quarters the Chiefs had played without scoring an offensive touchdown. There 1-9 record was the worst in the NFL at the time.

On November 22, 1998, the Chiefs lost to the San Diego Chargers 38-37 at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers scored the last 14 points of the game to grab the victory, fighting back from a 34-17 deficit in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs had three short TD runs from RB Bam Morris (right), along with a 35-yard scoring pass from QB Rich Gannon to WR Derrick Alexander. Pete Stoyanovich had three FGs in the game. But in the final period, San Diego got a pair of touchdown passes from QB Craig Whelihan and a four-yard scoring run by RB Terrell Fletcher. It was a one-yard TD throw from Whelihan to WR Charlie Jones that was the winning points for San Diego. Alexander finished with five catches for 173 yards. The KC defense had an interception from FS Jerome Woods and a sack by LB Greg Favors.

SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …

Born on November 22, 1982 in Waco, Texas was LB Derrick Johnson. He was selected in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft out of the University of Texas. Johnson has played 67 games, with 59 starts over five seasons with the Chiefs (2005-09), starting 59 times. He has 13 QB sacks, four interceptions and has taken part in 405 total tackles.

Born on November 22, 1946 in Robstown, Texas was DT Marvin Upshaw (left). He joined the Chiefs in 1970, after playing two seasons with the Cleveland Browns, where he was selected in the first round of the 1968 NFL-AFL Draft. Upshaw played six seasons with the Chiefs (1970-75), appearing in 67 games, starting 60 times. He had one interception, coming in 1974 that he returned 52 yards for a score. Upshaw also recovered five opponents’ fumble. He was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1976 and finished his career with four games with the Red Birds.


11 Responses to “Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs”

  • November 22, 2009  - Merwin in NY says:

    Another thing about the Steelers, Patriots, Colts and Eagles is they seem to keep hiring the same coaches who fit the system rather then constantly keep changing the system and trying to rid the team of one player to get another as we have. When the owner keeps a certain style general manager, head coach, assistant coaches, and players to fit a system its a lot easier to maintain the system. On the other hand we keep changing the system and ridding the team of good players to get a new look. Look where thats gotten the Chiefs! GO CHIEFS! just keep it close.


  • November 22, 2009  - Arrowheadlines: Chiefs News 11/22 | Kansas City Chiefs Blog says:

    [...] Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs from Bob Gretz [...]


  • November 22, 2009  - el cid says:

    I may not like the way Pioli/Haley went about it but recognize the need to change from carl/herm, ok? What I do not see is restructing in the way of the Steelers, Pats, Colts, or Eagles. These two went a new direction. Hope it works out or we are looking at three wasted years and start over again.

    The Star said today, “The Art of War” is a book used by Haley. Well, read the book and there is nothing except getting rid of herm’s guys that Haley is doing. If he wanted to do that, should of cut all ties (players) before the season started and brought in 53 new Chiefs. Point is do not think much of Haley’s style or ability. Win more than 10 games and I will probably call him the next Lombardi or Stram. Just do not see it. No personal control, not a deep thinker, and no innovater, given time with enough new players he may be adequate but look and smells like a bust to me.


  • November 22, 2009  - Tim Geary says:

    hire Charlie Weis as OC, Romeo Crennel as DC.


  • November 22, 2009  - Drew says:

    am i crazy or does Cassell have 10 tds and 6 ints…

    bob has him throwing 2 tds against Oakland…


  • November 22, 2009  - Indplschiefsfan says:

    This is in response to el cid:

    I live in Indy, and have for almost 15 years. What I’m going to say applies not only here, but in NE, Pitt, Phila, and any other winning club out there. They ALL go through their growing pains.

    Here in Indy, the Colts went through a couple of coaches — the most notable being Jim Mora — before bringing in Dungy and a winning system. They now have Caldwell, who has changed some details, but has retained most of the system and coaches. You can also look at Pitt and Cowher. Pitt was competitive, if not awe inspiring, before Cowher came along. Their current coach (his name escapes me) is only carrying on the winning that Cowher developed when he got there. My point is this: The teams mentioned all had to do one thing before they “established” their system — they had to find it first. All these gold teams — Indy, NE, Phila (though I dispute them being included) Pitt, et al, went through multiple coaches and multiple systems before hitting on the right one. The Chiefs have to do the same thing. The formula is different in each situation.

    Say what you will about the P/H era now. In my opinion, it is too early to tell whether they have what it takes. Will Haley be a bust? Hard to say right now, we haven’t even really seen a true first draft out of the P/H regime. And yes, I’m discounting the 2009 draft; 1 year does not a draft positive/negative make. As I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, the Chiefs are talent poor right now. Even Dungy, or Cowher, or (fill in the blank) couldn’t make a silk purse out of the sow’s ear of talent we have.

    Bottom line. It takes time — two seasons minimum — to find out if a rookie head coach, or GM, has what it takes to build a winning program. Couple that truth to Lamar (may he RIP) was desperately trying to find a way to the Super Bowl in his final years on this planet, and the Chiefs have a mess on their hands not easily repaired in a season or two. Patience is the watch word. The way to stop the revolving door is to quit going through it. Pick a GM, and a head coach, and ride them to a conclusive point — yea or nay. If anyone thought the Chiefs would be competitive this year, they are either very naive, or view the world through rose colored glasses.


  • November 22, 2009  - Indplschiefsfan says:

    I have to amend my previous post…

    I had forgotten about Pitt only having had 3 coaches in the modern era. They seem to be the exception that proves the rule…


  • November 22, 2009  - ED says:

    Everybody keeps bring up if you have Moss as receiver it makes you look good. No it don’t. When Randy was with the Raiders it didn’t make Kerry Collins look good. Another thing is Moss numbers went down when Cassell took over as starter. It just shows me if Cassell has weapons around him he can be a good quarterback. The QB position is way overrated. He can’t be effective without good o-line and receivers that can make plays bottom line. QB isn’t going to make anybody better. Guys around him have to actually be good and they make each other look good by playing at a high level. When I say each other thats QB and recevier and QB and o-line.


  • November 22, 2009  - Indplschiefsfan says:

    Well… No one could have written the script to this one any better. The one thing that has impressed me about the Chiefs this year, as hapless as they have seemed at times, is they never give up. And it finally paid off in a big, even huge, victory for this franchise. Hats off to the Chiefs.

    I’m not going to criticize them. With any victory comes a number of things a team does wrong. Instead, I want to concentrate on how they rose up, came from behind and beat a very good football team. The D played an inspired 2nd half, the O delivered when it had to, and we have a W to post. Have they turned a corner? Maybe, maybe not. But this is the kind of game which can get a team believing in itself, and if there is one thing this team needs, it’s belief.

    Great game, KC. I hope this is a harbinger of the future.


  • November 22, 2009  - SG says:

    “The one thing that has impressed me about the Chiefs this year, as hapless as they have seemed at times, is they never give up.”

    D-Dog, you’re gonna make a believer out of me yet man – they keep playing and not giving up – they’ve found some heart – which is a foundation for the future. If we can get the talent on this team to buy in and stop being a bunch of wimps, this could be a team that others will get behind as well as the faithful. By the way, a certain Raider should be put on notice that KC has its third win of the season, 3 more than he predicted.




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