Is Cassel Really That Bad?

OK, I get it … Matt Cassel stinks. I read and hear it in mainstream media. I read it online. I am not convinced. Would I rather have Peyton Manning? Stupid rhetorical question … so would almost any team in the league.

On Sunday against the Colts, Cassel averaged 5.3 yards per attempt and completed 55.2 percent of his passes. At one point in the third quarter, he tossed six straight incomplete passes. No touchdowns, no interceptions.

Manning wasn’t so great either, averaging 5.5 yards per attempt and completing 59.1 percent of his passes. He had a touchdown and an interception, and he was roasted on internet boards at Indianapolis newspapers following the game nearly as savagely as Cassel has been in Kansas City.

Both quarterbacks were hurt by dropped passes. Dwayne Bowe dropped a 30-yard touchdown pass that Cassel put in precisely the place were Bowe (and not the defender) could catch it. Bowe got both hands on it and couldn’t hang on. That was the first of three straight incomplete passes on that series. All three were dropped.

Consider these numbers. If Bowe catches the pass, Cassel doesn’t throw two more passes that series – one of them another drop by Bowe on a slant pattern. So his numbers improve to 17 of 27 for 196 yards – an average of 7.26 yards per attempt, a touchdown, no interceptions and right in the acceptable range for a quarterback. More importantly the Chiefs would have been in front 13-9 with three minutes remaining in the third quarter.

What Cassel did do in the game that was encouraging came at the end of the first half. He completed passes of 13 and six yards and aided by a stupid Indianapolis penalty moved the Chiefs into field-goal range for Ryan Succop to kick a 45-yard field goal just before the half ended. He also completed five of eight passes the final drive, moving the Chiefs from their 18 to the Indianapolis 33 where the drive – and game – ended with a missed 51-yard field-goal attempt on fourth-and-4.

I would agree with Chiefs coach Todd Haley that Cassel “showed great composure” and did a “great job leading the team.” Can he carry a team, the way Manning does? Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and Pierre Garcon have a little to do with that. We’ll get to the receivers in a minute.

Passing

Total

Less than 7 

7-10 yards 

10-plus 

Avg/Att 

Cassel vs. Indy

16-29-156

5.38 

Season 

58-106-650

24** 

27 

6.13* 

* Includes one spike (two for season). ** Includes three short-yardage first down or TD passes.

Rushing

Jamaal Charles fans got their wish Sunday as he played a significantly larger role in the Chiefs running game than Thomas Jones. He gave them the best – and worst – of the Jamaal Charles experience.

He gained 87 yards in 16 carries, averaging 5.4 yards per tote. He caught three passes for another 14 yards – giving him a total of 101 yards of the Chiefs 261 yards of offense – 38.7 percent of their total offense. Of the 16 runs, all but five were considered successful runs. He improved his percentage of successful runs to above 50 percent for the season with this performance.

But he also gave fans the worst of Charles near the end of the first half with the Chiefs trailing 6-0 and driving in their two-minute offense. He carried five times on a drive that started at the Chiefs 20 and moved to the Colts’ 41 when he fumbled after an eight-yard gain and the Colts recovered. He was bailed out by the defense, and the Chiefs eventually scored a field goal as time ran out in the half.

Thomas Jones had his worst day with the Chiefs, largely because of his lack of break-away speed. The Chiefs were most successful on outside runs. Of Jones’ eight carries only three were longer than four yards and two were for loss. He didn’t even touch the ball in the second quarter and on a third-and-1 on the opening drive of the third quarter he was smacked for a five-yard loss.

Player

Tot.

3 or less 

4+ 

10+ 

Successful

Charles vs. Indy 

16/87

11 

11 

Season 

50/325

22 

28 

10 

28 

Jones vs. Indy 

8/19

Season 

60/236

33* 

27 

30 

* Includes three short-yardage runs for first down or touchdown.

Receiving

It’s hard to judge the effectiveness of receivers because so much depends on how accurately the quarterback gets them the ball. Yards after catch depends on accurate and timely delivery of a pass while there is separation from a defender.

But here are some numbers I found interesting. As it relates to the game against the Colts, I’ll rely on the grade-card of longtime reporter for the Indianapolis Star, Bob Kravitz, who covers the Colts. He gave the Indy pass defense an A-. He led off the report: “First, thank you to Dwayne Bowe. I thought Reche Caldwell had made a comeback. If Bowe makes that catch in the end zone, this is a different game, maybe a different result …”

Bowe dropped a touchdown pass. The ball was thrown behind the shoulder of the defender and in a spot where Bowe was the only one who had a chance to catch it. He got both hands on the ball, and it would have been a very good catch – though not a great catch if he had come up with it. It also was a possible game-changer in the missed opportunity.

If you consider Dexter McCluster a wide receiver instead of a runner, Cassel threw 19 of his 29 attempts to the wide receivers. They accounted for eight of the catches. Here’s the breakdown against Indianapolis, and for the season:

vs. Indianapolis

Receiver

Target

Catches

Bowe 

Chambers 

Moeaki 

Charles 

McCluster 

Pope 

Copper 

Season

Receiver

Target

Catches

Moeaki 

23 

16 

Bowe 

23 

Chambers 

16 

McCluster 

14 

Charles 

11 

Castille 

Jones 

5

Copper 

Pope 

None of the receivers are in the league’s top 20 for yards gained after the catch. The No. 20 spot is held down by a couple of guys who have gained 120 yards after the catch. Bowe ranks sixth in the league with three drops.

Some other interesting statistics: 34.8 percent of Bowe’s catches have been for first down. Chris Chambers has made a first down on 31.3 percent of his catches.

DEFENSE

To emphasize Haley’s points about his team’s offense not being the reason they lost the game, consider these jewels. Derrick Johnson had an interception in his grasp and dropped it. On Jon McGraw’s interception, he grabbed it and started to his right. Linebacker Mike Vrabel, right in front of McGraw, began blocking to the left.

But it’s hard to quibble with the Chiefs defense. The alignments tempted the Colts to run more frequently than they normally do. Still the Chiefs turned in another stellar performance against the run – though the three kneeldowns at the end of the game dropped the Colts average.

The first-down plays against the defense were split a bit uncharacteristically for Indianapolis. But the Chiefs held the Colts to just 3.8 yards per run on first down and six yards per pass on first down – a win in both cases.

Chiefs against the run

Opponent

Runs/Yds

3-less 

4-plus 

Avg 

San Diego 

29-109

20 

3.7 

@ Cleveland

26-73

15* 

11 

2.8 

San Francisco 

15-43

10* 

2.8 

@ Indianapolis

31-97

19** 

12 

3.1 

* Includes 1-yard touchdown for Cleveland and 2-yard run for first down with San Francisco. ** Includes two “successful” runs for first down and three kneel-downs at the end of the game.

First-down breakdown vs. Chiefs defense

Opponent

Runs

Avg.

Pass

Avg.

San Diego 

19

5.2 

11 

10.45 

@ Cleveland 

15

3.8 

4.6 

San Francisco 

7

3.1 

17 

4.4 

@ Indianapolis

13

3.8 

17 

6.0 


13 Responses to “Is Cassel Really That Bad?”

  • October 12, 2010  - aPauled says:

    How much more patience would fans have with Matt Cassel if he wasn’t the #3 QB on the NFL salary list? I think that the salary has much to do with the fans grumblings about his play. Salary is a large target on his back. When a guy makes that kind of money, he should produce results…consistently.


  • October 12, 2010  - Pat says:

    I tend to agree with aPauled. If Cassel was making making what, say, Orton is making, then people would probably be satisfied with his play so far. But I’m still not QUITE ready to give up on him. If they can bring in a consistent, talented wide receiver next year and another young quarterback to challenge for the starting position, then I think we’d know for sure if Cassel is going to sink or swim. Right now, he’s dealing with a pretty lackluster receiving crew. Even Manning could make our receivers get open or hold onto the ball. Moeaki, Charles, and McCluster make up such a big percentage of his targets is pretty revealing. Just imagine if Moeaki hadn’t ended up being pretty serviceable. Our record might be 2-2 or 1-3 right now.


  • October 12, 2010  - Edward says:

    Ok guys let me interupt Cassel is making what a typical starting QB makes 10million a yr. And Orton, Pat make $12 million this yr thanks to his new contract he received before the season starts. You guys act like QB not suppose to get paid top dollar. If they’re going to get all the blame and credit than they’re going to be the most paid. Goes to show if fans upset about his salary then they’re not doing their homework. Majority of starting NFL QB make around 10million per yr or more. Most of them make more. Sam Bradford, Matt Stafford, Matt Ryan, Kyle Orton, Phillip Rivers, so and so on guys proven and unproven make more. So if we’re going to allow a guy’s salary to dictate whether we blame him for things he can’t control then we need to look ourselves in the mirror because we’re taking it beyond football.

    As for the article good piece. Cassel unlike other Qb like Alex Smith or Jay Cutler doesn’t put the team in position to lose. He always does things that help manage the game. He and Kyle Orton are alot alike in that they never make stupid mistakes that end up costing their team a chance to win games. With Bears that’s how Orton was seen he wasn’t a flashy cannon arm QB but he always won. Might I also add he didn’t have any receivers either which contributed to not so flashcy stats. Now he’s in Denver with a really good receiving core and he’s leading the league in passing and playing lights out. Like I’ve said before I’m say it again until Bowe or Chambers step up and start outplaying a rookie tight end in Moeaki the passing game is going to continue to be average. Cassel needs weapons. Similar to what Orton has in Denver. When he gets those weapons he’ll put up the impressive numbers. Cassel isn’t Jesus he can’t turn water into wine. He ain’t going to make Bowe a pro bowl receiver Bowe has to make up in his mind to start to play like one or at least like a 1st round pick.


  • October 12, 2010  - el cid says:

    Gosh, Pat, we are 3-1 and you got it figured that NEXT YEAR we will get a “talented” WR and a “young” QB.

    Cassel is adequate and that is about it but seems to be what Pioli/Haley want right now. Why Pioli ignored the shortage of talent at WR is a bit amazing.

    Actually we just have to hope the running game, defense, and special teams can carry the load in ’10.


  • October 12, 2010  - Edward says:

    Agreed el cid running the ball and playing good defense and with Matt ability to step up when it counts its enough to win the division this season. ONe thing about running the ball and playing good defense it can win anywhere at home on the road it don’t matter. Will win the division but if we’re going to go deep in playoffs we’re going have to get Cassel some weapons next season.


  • October 12, 2010  - el cid says:

    Thanks, Edward, but I did not say Matt has any ability to step up. Hopefully he will just limit his mistakes and not cost us games. The change, if there is going to be any, will be at WR or the offensive game plan. Limit the damage the WRs can do. Run them deep and try to draw off DBs from stopping the run. Crossing patterns with short throws over the middle. Make them safety valves when no one else has a prayer of being available. Anyone depending on Bowe or Chambers is delusional, they just are not there for the team.


  • October 12, 2010  - aPauled says:

    Kyle Orton is making just under $12M over the 2010 and 2011 seasons…$6M a season with $5.5M guaranteed. He’s also the #2 passer in the NFL.

    Matt Cassel is making $63M over 6 years…$15M last year, $10M this year, $7M roster bonus plus salary next year. As the #28 passer in the NFL…#3 money doesn’t exactly fit…average money #10-20 wouldn’t even fit considering #28 performance.


  • October 12, 2010  - Craig says:

    You can’t help but think this is all in Cassel’s head. Yeah bowe dropped 2 in a row. The 3rd to mccluster was a bad throw. Moeaki and pope made good catches on bad passes as dis mccluster on the slant that he went to the ground on. Cassel gives it to him in the chest, in stride and he has a td maybe. But it seems Cassel is over thinking everything. He is too hesitant and is taking way too long to get rid of the ball. This is all a mental thing. Will Sheilds was talking about how cassel hold the ball too long on the radia a week or so ago. Some may call it putting it in a spot where only the reciever can catch it but maybe it was just a bad pass. And yes we dont have randy moss to catch everything everywhich way so cassel has to perform a little better. Both of them, bowe and cassel, it is a mental thing. Sometimes those mental things never get better.


  • October 13, 2010  - Tracy says:

    Kent Pulliam’s point about the effect that Dwayne Bowe’s dropped TD pass has on Matt Cassel’s stats points up just how symbiotic the relationship is that exists between a QB and his receivers and the effect it has on statistics.

    Cassel was repeatedly victimized last year by Bowe’s bad hands and it appears that that trend may continue. Todd Haley and Charlie Weis are being smart to limit Cassel’s role to basically managing the football as there is no proven go-to guy receiver, as there was during Tony G’s tenure.

    We will be in a better position at season’s end to judge just how good or bad Cassel is. Game-to-game carping seems to be premature at best.


  • October 13, 2010  - Justin says:

    Cassel can play – he showed that last year against Dallas and Pittsburgh when he brought back in both of those games. He cannot catch the ball too…Chambers has not shown up this year and Bowe is still Bowe. He needs to get comfortable passing to MCcluster and Moeaki.


  • October 13, 2010  - bhive01 says:

    Kent, this is a good summary and much as I suspected there is blame to go around and I agree with Craig that there is a mental element that seems to nag both Cassel and Bowe.

    I also wonder how much of this comes down to play calling as well. What is Cassel being told to do? Is he just following orders when he stares down his receiver of choice? These are questions that only Weis and Haley could answer and will never answer.


  • October 13, 2010  - Paul says:

    Sorry to all the Cassel haters out there but I don’t think Cassel’s problems are his fault; it’s the receivers. I listen to Chiefs radio with Mitch and Lenny Dawson during the games, and Len is always complaining about how the receivers don’t finish their routes, don’t come back to help the quarterback, how they drop passes, etc. Plus, Haley and Co. could only fix so much in one offseason. They did a darn good job bringing in some playmakers I think. This draft has been phenomenal so far. With as bad as this team has been over the past few years, there are only so many positions you can shore up per year. I don’t blame them either for bringing in a new receiver. There wasn’t exactly anyone available, either, execpt Houshmanzada, Holmes, and Boldin. I’m pretty sure we made a run at a couple of those guys. Problem is with free agents, and especially WRs, is that they always want way too much darn money.


  • October 13, 2010  - jim says:

    What he make shouldn’t affect any of or thinking because we don’t have to pay him – Clark does. All I care about is his effectiveness as it relates to wins/losses. Could not care LESS about how much he makes – not relevant at all.




Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.


Categories

Other News

Archives


RSS


Pages

Home