Monday Cup O’Chiefs

Matt Cassel showed his savvy over the weekend during the Chiefs three-day mini-camp that finished up Sunday morning.

It wasn’t anything he did on the field. It’s what he said, or more correctly what he didn’t say when he met with the media on Saturday.

“Do you have a favorite BBQ yet?” Cassel was asked.

“I know there’s a lot of … I don’t want to say anything,” Cassel said with a smile. “But I love BBQ.”

There’s no sense making a decision known in the KC BBQ Derby this early in his career. Better to build up a few victories and touchdown passes in the fan bank before actually getting involved in something nuclear like who has the best ribs or best sauce in town.

Cassel has shown he’s a quick learner and while the sum total of his NFL starting career is 15 games with a team that finished the last two regular seasons 27-5, he’s got a good hold on what’s necessary to be the guy who helps lead the Chiefs out of the dregs of pro football.

Todd Haley says the competition for starting jobs is ongoing at 22 positions. That may be true at 21 other spots, but if the season started today, there’s no question who would be taking the snaps with the No. 1 offense. In his first chance to be a college or NFL team’s chosen starter, Cassel has not spit the bit.

“Overall, I’m happy with his progress,” Haley said of Cassel. “Matt’s been here since Day 1. He’s the leader for every workout group. Now, there are some other guys leading also, but it’s clear it’s hard to out-work this guy. When he’s done working out he’s upstairs bugging us. He’s making drawings, coming up with ideas, wanting to talk football, all the time on top of working out real hard.

“He’s lost some weight, has his body in shape. Now, once you get into football things it’s translating over. You’re seeing the complete package.”

The Chiefs have allowed media visitors to eight of their practice sessions so far and there’s improvement in Cassel’s working relationship with his receivers, although to call the team’s passing offense a well-oiled machine right now would not be accurate. During the mini-camp practices, there were times when the offense struggled to make plays through the air. The connection between Cassel and receivers has improved, but there’s plenty of room to grow.

“That doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and it takes a lot of throws between the quarterback and receivers,” said veteran WR Bobby Engram. “But those throws are being made and we are getting better.”

It helps Cassel that he’s getting the multiple reps with the first unit that come with being the No. 1 quarterback. Again, Haley says the job is not his, but practice sure runs like it is.

“You get the opportunity to get the first team reps and start building that relationship with the receiver,” said Cassel. “Any time you are a backup quarterback and have to step into that role … it took me a little time last year to get on the same page with those guys because you just don’t get the reps.

“This time of year is so valuable to be out there and be with the No. 1s and be able to get those reps, to go against the No. 1 defense.”

Cassel showed a little spark this weekend when he was questioned about whether his play last year was a product of his talent, or the Patriots system and the talent that team has at wide receiver.

“There’s no doubt they have a great system and they have some great players in place,” said Cassel. “Any time you look around the league and see the guys with the best stats, whether it’s Kurt Warner or Peyton Manning, they have an outstanding supporting cast. If you take away Larry Fitzgerald, (Anquan) Boldin and these guys, they can ask the same thing.

“I know I can play. If you turn on the film from last year and watch any of those games, you’ll know it was not just those guys making plays. I’m going through my reads. I’m making the throws and doing what I need to do to have success.

“Can you replicate it? We have some guys here that can play. There’s no doubt about that. We are working for success. I can’t tell you what the future holds, but I can tell you we’ve got some good players here that can definitely step up and make big time plays.”


There hasn’t been much in the way of public comment from the Chiefs about their players since Pioli/Haley took control of the building. But as the days wear on, Haley is more willing to share information and he pointed out a few players for praise as the mini-camp wrapped up on Sunday.

First was LT Branden Albert (left).

“A guy that stood out to me is Branden Albert,” said Haley. “He’s a guy who came in way out of shape; that we were all pretty disappointed in. He kind of let himself go when the season ended and probably in-season a little bit.

“But the guy’s got his nose to the grindstone and he’s lost a lot of weight and is getting much stronger and practicing with technique. I’m pretty excited about what the possibilities are with Branden.”

Then, he talked about TE Brad Cottam.

“He seems to know what’s going on,” Haley said. “He’s working hard. He hasn’t missed a workout. He’s obviously big and I think that gives you positive and negatives. He fell down a couple of times today. He’s a guy who’s got to work on technique all the time being as tall as he is. But he’s a confident receiver and I think when the pads go on he’s got a chance to be a pretty good blocker.”

And Haley talked about a couple of guys that can help on special teams.

“We got a big back in Jackie Battle whose fast … he should be a heck of a special teamer,” he said. “Or one of our young free agents Jovan Belcher is another guy, a run and hit guy who looks like when the pads go on and you start covering kicks he could make an impact.”


There’s plenty of misinformation floating around about why fourth-round draft choice Donald Washington could not take part in the mini-camp or any of the off-season work to date.

Some outlets have reported it’s an “NCAA rule” that’s kept him away. That’s simply not true. Once a player declares for the NFL Draft and the league approves his declaration, the NCAA has no control whatsoever on the player or what he does. Plus, the rule works the same for players who have used up their eligibility, not just players leaving school early like Washington.

The rule that kept Washington away is an NFL rule, one that was instituted by the league as a way to mollify the college football coaches. The college guys were worried that once players were drafted they would no longer be around school and finish up their spring term studies. This is a factor even more these days because graduation rates can affect a program and the number of available scholarships.

So the rule was put in to encourage players to stay on campus and finish the spring term. It generally only hurts those players who come out of schools that run on the quarter system. Washington is actually going to graduate from Ohio State (he’s been there four years), but he can’t come back and start working with the Chiefs as soon as classes are over.

Washington’s teammate with the Buckeyes, CB Malcom Jenkins found away to get to the New Orleans Saints mini-camp.  He was able to take his finals early, getting them done this past week, including one on Friday.  He jumped on a plane and was in New Orleans by late Friday evening.  That got him on the field for practice on Saturday and Sunday.

The rule these days has probably outlived its usefulness. Most players once they finish their eligibility or declare for the draft, head off to various workout centers around the country arranged by their agents. There they prepare for the NFL Combine and team workouts.

But don’t expect the NFL to get rid of the rule; they want to make sure they keep relations with their “developmental league” on good standing.

29 Responses to “Monday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • June 8, 2009  - Harold C. says:

    It all sounds encouraging right now Bob.

  • June 8, 2009  - SG says:

    “Better to build up a few victories and touchdown passes in the fan bank before actually getting involved in something nuclear like who has the best ribs or best sauce in town.”

    Better to get off one’s seat, try some bbq, and have some specific opinions ready so that he doesn’t sound like an out-of-town politician…especially when he seemed to throw a few to the defense over the weekend.

  • June 8, 2009  - Harold C. says:

    I REALLY miss KC bbq. The place I live now….they have mustard meat. When we first moved out to the east coast we sat down somewhere to have some bbq and when they brought us our food I said “HEY…they put mustard all over my meat”!!! Imagine my dismay when I was told that this is the bbq around here. Made me want to cry.

  • June 8, 2009  - Gump says:

    I see a BBQ debate brewing…gotta love the off-season

  • June 8, 2009  - SG says:

    Harold C.,

    Depending on where you are, they may still do bbq right in your community. There is never any reason to not go on a hunt for good bbq. If they don’t know good bbq, might be a good reason to start a business there! Some good bbq…some “real” sweet tea…that’s good eatin’!

  • June 8, 2009  - colby says:

    Now we’re bashing Cassel for not picking a favorite BBQ place? Some people will never be happy. If he’d actually picked one, it probably wouldn’t have been the right one and then you’d bitch about that. This guy is the starting QB this year. He’s going to get a shot to prove he’s our franchise QB; so can we not get behind him this off season and wait and see just how good he is before we start warming up our tar and plucking our feathers?

    As many pros as Ohio State turns out every year, you’d think they’d have a system in place that would allow their athletes to work on a special schedule so they could actually attend these things. Jenkins did his finals early, but I’ve seen him in interviews and he’s a really smart kid with a good family background so he’s equipped to handle it. Not saying Washington is a punk, but most people would never volunteer to take their college finals early. Most need the time to prepare. Since so many steps are taken to help college athletes in their studies as is, OSU needs to do something so their recently turned pro players don’t miss half the off season conditioning programs.

  • June 8, 2009  - anonymous says:


    It’s the NFL that needs to change the rule, not Ohio St. It’s one of those rules put in with good intentions, but not very well thought out. If the guy has finished all his classes and and exams, who gives a F if they haven’t yet went through the formality of Graduating?

    Or am I missing something?

  • June 8, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    There’ll be plenty of time to sample KCs finest- when the QB becomes the main course being BBQ’d this season…copious portions coming right up, served by a fickle fandom…enjoy!

    * (PS) Hey hey hey – it’s Fat ‘Albert’!

    * A story told by one dead giant about another: the late Chief DT Buck Buchanan told about his former teammate DT Ernie Ladd. According to Buck the 6’9 325 lb. (day 1) Ernie went to eat breakfast at an ‘all-you-can-eat’ restaurant three days in a row; when Ladd returned day 4 the restaurant had taken the sign DOWN.


  • June 8, 2009  - bbq man says:

    arthur bryants

  • June 8, 2009  - colby says:

    Whether it’s OSU or the NFL that needs to change something is less important than something actually happening to FIX this problem. If I’m a GM, I’m leaning away from taking OSU kids in the later rounds due to the fact that I know they will be forced to miss a whole lot of work in the off season due to the fact that their class schedule is different than most other state schools. For a 1st round pick who is expected to be a starter due to immense talent, teams can work around it. But for a 4th round guy like Washington who is fighting to make the roster, it’s a huge disadvantage to his development. Has he been able to be here for anything yet? Not that I know of. I feel sorry for the kid. He’s going to be so far behind everyone else by the time OSU FINALLY raps up their semester and he gets in here.

  • June 8, 2009  - Anonymous says:

    SG….the closest place around here that has edible BBQ is a chain called Sonnys….and while they are better than nothing…they don’t touch the BBQ I experienced in the KC area. Anyway the closest one is also around 2 hours away from where I live. So all I have is memorys…..ahhh….how I miss it. Opening up a place here would not do any good. Everyone up here inexplicably believes thier mustard meat is the real BBQ….much to my disgust. I hate mustard.

    Anyway…why should Cassel endorse some BBQ place right now for nothing? If he becomes a star he can endorse and get a big paycheck for it.

  • June 8, 2009  - Markc says:

    “Do you have a favorite BBQ yet?” Cassel was asked.

    The answer should have been.
    BBQ is not on the coaches list of approved foods.

  • June 8, 2009  - Carl Peterson says:

    I personally prefer KC Masterpiece BBQ: The ONLY REAL Kansas City BBQ!!!

  • June 8, 2009  - SG says:

    “Now we’re bashing Cassel for not picking a favorite BBQ place?”

    Defensive little thing aren’t we? The problem is: MC allowed room for doubt whether he has even tried any bbq in KC. Do we want a man leading our team’s offense who can’t decisively say he’s tried at least 3 good bbq places since getting to town and needs to try these places SEVERAL MORE TIMES to select a favorite? Or even worse – he likes Carolina-style BBQ or VA-style BBQ? Some sins are hard to pardon Colby… :-)

  • June 8, 2009  - SG says:

    “chain called Sonnys…”

    No Famous Dave’s?

    “Anyway…why should Cassel endorse some BBQ place right now for nothing?”

    You have a strong point there.

  • June 8, 2009  - SG says:

    “BBQ is not on the coaches list of approved foods.”

    That could be tweaked as follows: BBQ is not on the coaches’ list of approved foods…however, if you meet me at such and such place at 7:30 PM, I’ll give you some opinions on this matter…just kidding Coach!

  • June 8, 2009  - jimbo says:

    Brandon Albert getting kudos from the head coach should mean something. I think it means that Albert is working hard & consistently showing progress. I also think that Haley has singled out Albert as a good example for the other players to emulate.
    Even though Haley has a big question mark on his head, it is good to hear a compliment from him.
    Cassel also seems to be on Haley’s radar as a good example of the type of player he is looking for.
    I know it is early and predictions are simply a fools opinion at this stage, but I am encouraged by Cassel’s work ethic and team first attitude.
    Maybe we are seeing signs of prospective team leaders in the Class of 2009.

  • June 8, 2009  - Harold C. says:

    “No Famous Dave’s?”


    Around here they think BBQ is pork smothered in Mustard sauce. No beef….just pork. Oh how I long for a burnt end dinner.

  • June 8, 2009  - SG says:


    You truly do get our sympathies.

  • June 8, 2009  - RedandGoldRice says:

    In my opinion alone, our “franchise QB” is someone WE draft and develop. You’re not alone in hoping Cassell turns out to be something special for KC, but I’ll never consider him to be our franchise QB simply because the Chiefs didn’t find, draft and develop him.

  • June 8, 2009  - Harold C. says:

    “but I’ll never consider him to be our franchise QB simply because the Chiefs didn’t find, draft and develop him”

    Well then….by this standard the Chiefs have never ever had a franchise QB. Even Len Dawson started elsewhere.

  • June 8, 2009  - RedandGoldRice says:

    I wasn’t even born when Dawson won the superbowl here, and I didn’t argue that point.
    I’m not trying to big deal the issue, just saying, in my opinion, that I don’t really consider Cassell to be our “Franchise QB”. I hope he can have as much succuss as Trent Green did here, or a number of other successful QBs to pass through, but to say he’s OUR franchise qb is a stretch to me.

  • June 8, 2009  - BBQ fan says:

    Jack Stack or Gates are the best, Arthur Bryant’s is up there as well.

  • June 8, 2009  - ED says:

    who really cares what bbq cassell likes as long as he’s playing well on Sundays it doesn’t matter.

    Red & Gold rice I agree Cassell needs to earn the right on the field multiple years before we can consider him a franchise quarterback. But I know he will develop into one. He’s got the work ethic to be great and thats the first step. Cassell also made a good point you’re only as good as the guys around you. When he used Warner and Manning for examples. I mean the only quarterback I know did well with average receivers was Brady but at least they were reliable and didn’t drop the football.

    Cassell success as a QB is going to depend upon the guys around him making plays. Bowe Bradley Darling and Cottam. Those guys have to catch and make plays after the catch.

    Either way Cassell will be fine I like his attitude coming from NE to be great. And i like the fact we have a real GM that is going to surround him with the talent to be successful.

  • June 8, 2009  - ED says:

    And a franchise quarterback isn’t defined by who drafted the quarterback. That title is defined by a QB who comes to a team and has established himself as the undisputed QB of a football team for as long as he’s playing for that team. A QB that when a fan thinks of a team he’s identified to being the undisputed QB for that team. A guy who is one of the top QB’s in the league. That makes a franchise QB.

  • June 8, 2009  - RedandGoldRice says:

    Good definition ED. I’d agree with that point.

  • June 8, 2009  - Mark says:

    Favre wasn’t drafted by GB, Elway wasn’t drafted by Denver, Young wasn’t drafted by SF, etc. I think ED’s definition is a good one.

  • June 8, 2009  - Harold C. says:

    Yep…and as I said….Lenny wasn’t drafted by KC. I agree ED.

  • June 9, 2009  - SG says:

    “who really cares what bbq cassell likes as long as he’s playing well on Sundays it doesn’t matter.”

    Since KC’s fan base is trying to evaluate if they think Cassel will do a good job on Sunday’s and much of what we have so far is Bob’s awesome OTA reports which include repeated stories of INT’s MC is throwing in practice, evaluating our QB’s ability to make strong decisions under pressure such as questions from the media is one way to consider that issue (albeit a “reach” by your standards). Besides, what if your University of Missouri QB said, “I love being the Mizzou QB but I’m an OKLAHOMA Sooner at heart…” would their views become important?

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