QBs Cut From The Same Cloth … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

It will be an interesting matchup of quarterbacks on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

In a league where almost half of the starters are first round draft choices, the Chiefs and Cowboys have quarterbacks who are at the other end of the scale. Matt Cassel was a seventh-round draft choice, the 230th player selected in the 2005 NFL Draft.

At least Cassel was drafted. Dallas starter Tony Romo came out of Eastern Illinois and was not drafted back in 2003. He signed with the Cowboys as a free agent. Both spent three years on the bench, seeing only mop up action before they got their first starts.

And for two guys at the bottom of the pecking order coming into the league, they have certainly been well compensated. Back in July, Cassel signed a six-year $63 million contract with $28 million in guaranteed money. At that point, he had started just 15 NFL games. In October of 2007, Romo signed a six-year contract extension with Dallas for $67.5 million, with $30 million in guaranteed payments. At that time, he had started just 17 NFL games.

And here they are in week No. 5 of the 2009 season and their fans are not happy with either one. Cassel has struggled to get the Chiefs offense on track in his three starts. Romo has as many interceptions as TD passes (four each) and the Dallas fans are not happy.

Working the television broadcast booth on Sunday will be former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, and he knows how both Cassel and Romo feel right now. Remember, in his first season as the starter for Jimmy Johnson, Dallas went 1-15.

“I do know that if you get to the point where Tony is, no one in that (Cowboys) facility, coaches office, locker room knows what Tony is going through,” Aikman told the Dallas Morning News this week. “I do. It’s a roller coaster. You feel like you are absolutely alone. No one else gets it.

“When I was playing, when our team was struggling, you felt the weight of the city was on your back. That comes with the dinner.”

In the case of the quarterback, that type of pressure and attention is true whether he’s a first-round choice, a seventh-round pick, or wasn’t drafted at all. Once the starting job is theirs, and especially when the big dollars come, every decision they make on the field will be sliced and diced by the fans, media and even teammates and coaches.

“There’s a lot of hard work and effort and a lot of people beating you down,” Romo said this week. “You have to have a stronger belief in yourself than the disbelief of others.”

One guy who is sold on Romo is Chiefs head coach Todd Haley. He spent three seasons coaching in Dallas as Romo sat the bench and then ascended to the starting job, knocking out Drew Bledsoe during the 2006 season. In that ’06 season, Haley was the passing game coordinator for Bill Parcells.

“He was the epitome of a gym rat,” Haley said of Romo. “You couldn’t get him out of the building. We had racquetball courts in Dallas in the facility and he and I had a grudge match going every day for months. We were coming out of there… both of us bleeding and hitting each other with the racquet and the ball. He’s just that type of guy – around all the time. It could be the middle of winter and he’d be calling me out on the field and saying, ‘Coach, come look at this: I’m moving the ball this much in my hand; I’m putting my pinkie here instead of here. Will you come watch me throw this?’ That’s what got him to where he elevated himself to.”

Haley says the mental approach and dedication that Romo shows, combines with his athletic skills for a unique set of skills for the position.

“He’s very athletic, extremely athletic, with great vision,” said Haley. “The athleticism allows him to move around. He doesn’t always use the athleticism to run; he uses it to keep the play alive and get away from pressure. But he keeps his eyes down the field and, again, you’d better be defending the whole field longer when he’s in there. You might think the play is over and he’s whipping it across the field breaking all the rules.”

When a quarterback comes in to the NFL as a seventh round draft choice or a college free agent, they have to break some rules just to get attention long enough to make the roster and then get playing time. That’s the road Cassel and Romo have traveled and while that share that experience, Haley said they are different types of quarterbacks.

“I don’t think that Matt has the quickness that Romo does to dodge in and out of things and move around,” Haley said. “But Matt in return is big and can see over things that Tony might have to move out and find during the course of a play. But the gym rat portion of it, loving football, they’re very close to the same.”

There’s no question that Cassel pays attention to what goes on with Romo.

“He’s a guy that took a very similar route, I guess – he wasn’t a starter right away and he worked his way up and he continued to work hard,” Cassel said. “Now he’s got his opportunity and he’s done a great job with it. He’s a guy that has tremendous athletic ability and he’s definitely one of the top-tier QBs. Any time I get the chance to watch him I like it because he does a lot of great things with the football.”

With the spotlight shining brightly on them this Sunday, both Cassel and Romo need to have big games if their team is going to walk out of Arrowhead with a victory.

“Any time you’re in a situation we’re in or Kansas City is in, you definitely know you need these games,” Romo said this week. “This one is as important as they come. We know that.

“I think we’re going to leave it all on the field and do everything we can to win this game.”

WHERE NFL STARTING QUARTERBACKS COME FROM

Cassel and Romo rank in the bottom five when it comes to how they started in the NFL. Romo went undrafted coming out of college, as did Carolina’s Jake Delhomme, San Francisco’s Shaun Hill and Arizona’s Kurt Warner.

Cassel is the only seventh-round pick who is starting.

There are 20 of the 32 starting quarterbacks who were selected in the money rounds of the NFL Draft, rounds one through three.

Here’s how they break down:

Round

No.

Quarterbacks
1

15

Mark Sanchez, Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer, Peyton Manning, Kerry Collins, Phillip Rivers, JaMarcus Russell, Eli Manning, Donovan McNabb, Jason Campbell, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford, Jay Cutler, Matt Ryan.
2

3

Chad Henne, Brett Favre, Drew Brees.
3

2

Trent Edwards, Matt Schaub.
4

2

David Garrard, Kyle Orton.
5

1

Josh Johnson.
6

4

Tom Brady, Derek Anderson, Marc Bulger, Matt Hasselbeck.
7

1

Matt Cassel.
Undrafted

4

Tony Romo, Jake Delhomme, Shaun Hill, Kurt Warner.

 

SIGNINGS, INJURIES & MOVEMENT AROUND THE LEAGUE

  • BRONCOS – RB Correll Buckhalter will not play against the Patriots on Sunday because of an ankle injury.
  • GIANTS – QB Eli Manning’s participation in Sunday’s game against the Raiders will be a pre-game decision. Manning is fighting a heel injury.
  • PATRIOTS – RB Fred Taylor will not play against the Broncos on Sunday after surgery on his ankle this week. Prognosis remains unclear on how soon Taylor will return.

FROM THE PAGES OF CHIEFS HISTORY

On October 10, 1965, the Chiefs beat the Broncos 31-23 at Bears Stadium in Denver. The Chiefs scored in every quarter and never trailed in this game. RB Curtis McClinton and QB Pete Beathard each had a pair of TD runs. McClinton scored on two and seven-yard runs, while Beathard found the end zone on a two and 20-yard runs. K Tommy Brooker hit a 21-yard FG. The Chiefs defense had one interception by LB Sherrill Headrick and Denver lost four fumbles.

On October 10, 1971, the Chiefs beat the San Diego Chargers 31-10 in front of a crowd of 50,514 fans at Municipal Stadium. The visiting Chargers jumped to a 10-0 lead, but the Chiefs ran off the game’s final 31 points, thanks to a pair of QB Len Dawson touchdown passes to FB Jim Otis for three yards and WR Otis Taylor for 15 yards. The Chiefs also added TD runs of 15 yards from Warren McVea and 7 yards by Ed Podolak. CB Jim Marsalis and FS Johnny Robinson each picked off a John Hadl pass. RB Wendell Hayes led all rushers with 80 yards on 11 carries.

On October 10, 1976, the Chiefs beat the Redskins 33-30 at RFK Stadium in Washington. In one of just five games the team won that season, they went on the road and beat a Redskins team that finished the season 10-4. QB Mike Livingston threw for 332 yards and a pair of TD passes, including a 37-yard scoring pass to WR Larry Brunson with less than two minutes to play that provided the winning points. Livingston also connected with TE Walter White for a 33-yard TD pass. RB MacArthur Lane added a 6-yard TD run and Jan Stenerud kicked four field goals. The defense picked off Washington QB Joe Theismann twice, from CB Emmitt Thomas and LB Jim Lynch.

An October 10, 1982 game between the Chiefs and Oilers at Arrowhead Stadium was cancelled by the players strike.

SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …

Born on October 10, 1943 in Hearne, Texas was DB-K Fletcher Smith. He was selected in the eighth round of the 1966 AFL Draft out of Tennessee State. Smith spent two seasons with the Chiefs (1966-67), appearing in 24 games. He intercepted six passes during the ’67 season. Smith is the answer to the trivia question: Who was the first player to touch the ball in a Super Bowl? Smith kicked off in Super Bowl I at the Los Angeles Coliseum. He finished his career with four seasons playing for the Bengals.

Born on October 10, 1945 in Pascagoula, Mississippi was CB James Marsalis. He was a first-round selection in the 1969 AFL-NFL Draft out of Tennessee State. Marsalis played seven seasons with the Chiefs (1969-75), appearing in 78 games with 62 starts. He intercepted 12 passes and recovered five fumbles. Marsalis finished his career in ’77, playing 12 games with the Saints.

Born on October 10, 1949 in Kent, Ohio was RB Michael Adamle (left). He was selected in the fifth-round of the 1971 NFL Draft out of Northwestern. Adamle played two seasons with the Chiefs (1971-72), appearing in 22 games, with four starts. He ran 86 times for 346 yards and one TD, caught 16 passes for 82 yards and a TD and he returned 15 kickoffs for a 22.6-yard average. Adamle finished his career playing two seasons with the Jets and then two with the Bears. He went on to a lengthy broadcasting career, working locally in Chicago, nationally with NBC and also for groups like WWE.

Born on October 10, 1959 was WR James Murphy. He joined the Chiefs as a rookie free agent in 1981 out of Utah State. Murphy played in 10 games, catching two passes and returning 20 kickoffs for an average of 22.9 yards. It was his only NFL season.

Born on October 10, 1967 in Little Rock, Arkansas was WR Willie Davis. He signed with the Chiefs in 1991 and spent five seasons with the team (1991-95). Davis appeared in 63 games with 58 starts. He caught 172 passes for 3,014 yards and 20 touchdowns for the Chiefs, including 52 catches for 909 yards and seven TDs during the ’93 season. Davis finished his career playing two seasons with the Oilers and ended his NFL career with 286 catches for 4,503 yards and 33 TDs.

Born on October 10, 1965 in Miami, Florida was WR Brett Perriman. He signed with the Chiefs in 1997 after playing nine seasons with the Saints and Lions. In five games with the Chiefs, he caught six passes for 83 yards. Perriman was released and finished his career in ’97 playing with the Dolphins.

Born on October 10, 1979 in Winter Springs, Florida was LB Kawika Mitchell (left). He was a second-round selection in the 2003 NFL Draft out of South Florida. Mitchell played four seasons with the Chiefs (2003-06), appearing in 59 games and starting 50 at both outside and middle linebacker. He led the team in tackles in 2005-06 and finished his time with the Chiefs with 363 career tackles, 4.5 sacks and one interception. He’s played the last three seasons with the Giants (’07) where he won a Super Bowl ring and the Bills (’08-’09.)


5 Responses to “QBs Cut From The Same Cloth … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • October 10, 2009  - ED says:

    Excellent article Bob. Both of those guys are good quarterbacks. Romo will get better with improving coaching by the end of the season. Shanahan or Homlgrem will probably replace Wade Phillips and both guys can finish what Parcells started. And Cassell will get better with more grasp of the offense, improved o-line, and more weapons at the wide out position.


  • October 10, 2009  - Stiv says:

    I believe Matt can do a really good job for the Chiefs, but I think it hinges on if they put a good line in front of him and if he has adequate weapons to work with. Right now our line sucks, we have no running game and our receiving corps is suspect.

    As far as the comparison with Romo, I don’t think we’ll ever see Cassel make as many bone headed decisions as Romo does.

    Go Chiefs!


  • October 10, 2009  - MDChief says:

    The O-line seems to be coming together a little. I wonder if we were involved at all with the Browns for Braylon Edwards. We could sure use another big-time playmaker at one of the offensive skill positions.


  • October 10, 2009  - Adam says:

    MD,
    If you look at the way Cassel distributes the ball, it seems they don’t want a team to key on a certain player(I.E. D-Bowe). This will help cass develop into a good quarterback as to not focus in on one guy. I really think we need to add playmakers through the draft. Apparently that’s pioli’s specialty….but the way this draft class is producing I’m not so sure anymore(not to be hard on the guy…but has Donald Washington even got a tackle?).

    I say we shore up our defense with sergio kindle in R1 and then our O-Line and 2nd WR in the second and third rounds.


  • October 11, 2009  - Behind Enemy Lines says:

    The Chiefs really need to go O-Line in round 1. This is my opinion based on last year and the current year. Our O-Line is clearly the weakness of this team and has been since Roaf, Shields and Weigmann (sp?) left. Most likely we’ll have a top 10 pick and snagging a LB in the 2nd round might be better from a value standpoint. Of course I’ll be the first to admit I have no idea what the draft class looks like this year




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