Quarterback Competition? … Weekend Cup O’Chiefs

Ask anyone that knows me and they’ll tell you there are times when I get mental road blocks in my thinking pathways. The wife, my daughters, my sister, even my Mom would all say that sometimes you have to explain things to me in the simplest of terms, like I was a fifth-grader trying to understand quantum physics.

I’m having one of those episodes with this quarterback competition and the Chiefs. I keep hearing one thing, but apparently those speaking about a competitive situation at quarterback mean something different, because I do not understand the explanation in conjunction with actions.

Back in early February, Chiefs GM Scott Pioli said the following:

“We’ve been saying it for three years, and I’m going to continue to say it, because it’s a core part of our philosophy: There will be increased competition at every position, including the quarterback position. Who that is, I don’t know … very few people can perform at an extremely high level without competition.”

As I read that comment from Pioli I don’t find a lot of gray area. There will be increased competition at quarterback because it’s tough for anyone to get better without competition. That’s what I hear him saying.

Yet, somewhere between what he’s saying, my understanding and what he’s actually doing, there’s a disconnection. It’s about six weeks after that first comment and now Pioli says there’s competition for Cassel in the house. NFL free agency is more than a week old and the greatest free agent in NFL history became available on the open market and just happened to be a quarterback.

And the Chiefs answer to increased competition for Matt Cassel at the quarterback position is Brady Quinn?

“I know competition makes everybody better, and we’ll just have to see what kind of competition we’re going to have at the quarterback position,” Romeo Crennel said back in February.

When they signed Quinn to a one-year contract earlier this week, Pioli and Crennel told him that Cassel was the Chiefs No. 1 quarterback.

“They stated that Matt Cassel is the starting quarterback right now and that’s where things are,” Quinn told the Kansas City media. “But obviously there is going to be competition, like there should be on every team in every room. Competition makes everyone better.”

Even Quinn seems to be caught in the spider web of words being spewed about competition and the quarterback position. He’s been told Cassel is the starter. Yet he’s buying the legend that there is going to be competition for the starting job.

In an attempt to clear my confusion, I made a visit to Mr. Webster. He defines competition as:

“The act of competing; rivalry; a contest or match; official participation in organized sport; effective opposition in a contest or match; striving for the same object, position or prize in according with certain fixed rules; keen competition between opponents more or less evenly matched.”

Certain fixed rules? Opponents more or less evenly matched? At every level and angle of looking at the Chiefs quarterback depth chart I don’t see competition in any fixed rules. Opponents that are evenly matched for the competition are nowhere to be seen.

Pioli is playing word games and it’s hard to tell whether he’s doing it for the sake of Chiefs fans, players, or his ownership. Maybe it’s all about covering his behind since Cassel is connected to him in a big way. That’s a $63 million umbilical cord between GM and quarterback and it’s important for Pioli that Cassel is successful to validate his decision to not only trade for the quarterback, but to hand him that big contract before he’d even played a down for the team.

As Pioli has explained several times in the last few weeks, his definition of competition basically comes down to signing two other quarterbacks to work in practice with Cassel. Thus the mere act of going out and signing Quinn means there is competition.

In the immortal words of Waylon Jennings:

“You think that you can say some words and take away the hurt. And I’ll still be your number one.

But when it ain’t working out we got a saying down South; Baby that dog won’t hunt.”

As much as Cassel needs the competition to improve, he’s not going to see it battling against the likes of Quinn and Ricky Stanzi. The fixed rules – the starting quarterback is going to get two out of every three snaps in the off-season and training camp. The other one-third will likely be split 50-50 between the other quarterbacks. So in the average training camp practice, Cassel will throw in the neighborhood of 45 to 50 passes in team work and passing drills. Quinn will get 15 to 20 and Stanzi will see 10 to 15 passes.

How is that competition?

In the last two seasons (2010-11) Cassel has played in 24 of 32 regular season games, thrown 719 passes, 37 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. In the last two seasons, Quinn has played zero of 32 regular season games, thus not throwing a pass, touchdown or interception. Stanzi did not play in any of 16 games last year, his first in the league.

How is that competition?

Chiefs fans want to be excited about the moves made in the last week by the team. And, there are decisions that are worthy of being praised, particularly Eric Winston at right tackle, and the addition of Kevin Boss at tight end.

But Stanford Routt is not Brandon Carr on the corner, and Brady Quinn is not competition at quarterback for Cassel. If he is, then the Chiefs have a problem bigger than anybody anticipated. Is Quinn better than Tyler Palko? Yes, but please, talk about damning someone with faint praise!

Under Pioli’s definition Tyler Thigpen, Brodie Croyle and Palko were competitors for Matt Cassel.

I’m just so confused.

24 Responses to “Quarterback Competition? … Weekend Cup O’Chiefs”

  • March 23, 2012  - bhive01 says:

    I think your gut feeling is most likely correct Bob. It sure looks to me that Pioli is sticking with Cassel and surrounding him with “backups” that won’t ever really compete for the position. If it were Manning I could see how he would lose his job, but Pioli isn’t trying to bring in competition because he put his reputation on the line to bring in Cassel.

    I can’t remember ever being a Cassel sympathizer (I may have drank to much to forget if I was). The guy might be a great person, but he is average at best in the position as far as I can tell. Staring down receivers and not going through progressions, below average arm strength, average accuracy. I know he’s not been helped by a weak O-line, but a good QB could make a weak O-line look good. Hell, Orton came in and made them and himself look good.

    My point is, Pioli made a bet on Cassel and is sticking to that decision to the dismay of many. The “competition” at QB is a joke. If I were Stanzi, I’d be looking for a new team where an opportunity might actually exist.

    Perhaps Quinn can give Cassel a run for his money in camp… I’d sure like to see that.

  • March 23, 2012  - johnfromfairfax says:

    In the black box organization creating competition means saying it’s so. That’s like me saying I’m creating competition with my wife over who’s going to mow the lawn, take out the trash and change the oil in the car. You can probably figure how that one would turn out. It’s like saying we’re going to aggressively pursue the biggest free agent available and then letting your division opponent actually do what you state you are going to do. There are fewer and fewer Cassel defenders on this site and it’s filled with loyal and informed readers with good football knowledge. I’m not a Cassel hater but I can see some of the valid criticisms others make about him. Pioli and therefore Hunt are going with him and are trying to strengthen the cast around him to help him be successful. Nothing wrong with that but if it doesn’t work how do you throw him under the bus without admitting you made a 63 million dollar mistake? I’m hoping he’ll improve but some of the most diehard fans on this site have been campaigning for anybody but Cassel and may be bitterly disappointed if it doesn’t work out.

  • March 23, 2012  - R W says:

    The only positive to take from Pioli’s ‘competition’ definition is Cassel’s continued mediocre minus performance will ultimately take Pioli right down the tubes. If Chief’s fans get a twofer in 2012, getting rid of both Cassel and Pioli, I’ll take that as a win.

  • March 23, 2012  - Justin D says:

    I can only hope that working with Zorn for 2 consecutive years will help. Not like he has really had the benefit of the same coordinator every year.

    RW, I am not yet ready to call it on Cassel, and even Pioli had made some strides but I can certainly see your point of view. Our boy wonder (Pioli) has often left us doing just that: wondering WTF?

  • March 23, 2012  - aPauled says:

    I’m still gagging over the Brady Quinn signing. Obviously a move made in desparation. Manning then Orton gave the Chiefs the proverbial middle finger as they lookd for jobs last week. That left….hmmmmm….uhhhhhh…yeah…not much in the way of options. Campbell…not. Flynn…not the opp he was looking for. Others, maybe Pioli picks up Drew Stanton in his escape from New York. Maybe Cassel comes in prepared for 2012…or else…another lonnnnnnng season.

  • March 23, 2012  - Tenand6 says:

    If Winston had not been unexpectedly cut from the Texans, this off-season would be a big disappointment. Credit to Pioli for signing him, but that lucky event has obscured the QB issue Bob raises.

    There is no meaningful QB competition. Matt Flynn was never considered and Manning wouldn’t even give the Chiefs the Jeff Fisher defense— three (hours) and out.

    There was no more intent to upgrade the QB than there was to retain Branden Carr. Public statements conflicted with reality.

    The Chiefs must score an impact draft. They have done nothing to create the kind of fan excitement that sells season tickets much less suites. That means another year of a watered-down Arrowhead Advantage.

    Pioli has survived a brutal PR off-season— brought on by his own missteps. His gamble on Cassel just got a more risky with The Peyton Manning entering the division. If Cassel falters or is injured and his back-up doesn’t impress, the Chiefs will again find themselves with a half-empty stadium and louder calls for a renewed QB competition. The kind where Cassel is the “Brady Quinn” in the race.

    The Winston signing was a big help. Lady Luck saved our off-season.

  • March 23, 2012  - R W says:

    A little off topic but germaine to the essence of the overall picture of where the Chiefs go into the near future, who’s on your short list of Pioli replacements? If Jr. Hunt has a lick of common sense, and there’s no evidence that he DOES, but if so, he has to go with a veteran, experienced GM who’s been around the track, knows the pitfalls and where the bodies are buried.

    Bill Polian is out there. So is Charlie Casserly. Outside the box, there’s Pat Kirwin. I’d be thrilled with any of those guys instead of who’s there taking up space at present.

  • March 23, 2012  - el cid says:

    Got to give Pioli for acquiring Winston and at least trying with the other free agents. Only problem is, is that enough to save the 2012 season. This is not against Cassel or Pioli but…..did this team improve enough or is it better than a healthy 2011 team?

    I would say denver is better with Manning as QB over Tebow, one player, one move. Can we say that with Winston at RT, not so sure. I am not sure we are not worse off. Winston, in his sleep, is better than Richarson but with that improvement,just how much better are the Chiefs. Routt seems a step down, Hollis is a nut (may be great or pout in his locker), rest are just guys. Really like Pioli’s efforts this year but how far behind the power curve because of inactivity of the past.

    Guys, just so you will know, the Chiefs have a PR problem. Some of us think they are cheap to the point of not giving it the “all-american try” to be a good team. This image is being seen all around the NFL and players, folks, that is a problem.

  • March 23, 2012  - jimbo says:

    It turns my stomach to think Cassel will be our fearless leader for yet another year of futility & hope, ultimately resulting in disappointment.
    This is the first year in a long time that the Chiefs are in a position of acquiring more depth than starters. Losing Carr to FA is no shock. He worked his butt off for the big payday and I am happy for him. No team can afford two corners making 10 mil. each a season anyway.
    As for Pioli, I’m with Bob on that one. Competition is a very big word & Pioli got caught talking from both sides of his mouth. He may not be the best GM in the business nor the fan favorite here in KC but he has managed to put together a solid team with pro bowl caliber talent at many positions.
    I don’t want another year of Cassels mediocrity & pixie dust play but until our GM cuts the proverbial cord, we are stuck with him. The best thing we can hope for right now, is that Cassel has not reached his ceiling yet.
    Go Chiefs.

  • March 23, 2012  - Josh says:

    It’s horrid to think that the only way the Chiefs improve is with another serious injury to Cassel. I don’t give a rip about the other signings. We can’t move far enough up in the draft to get a stellar QB, so we’re going into the season with Cassel (blind, slow, and weak), Quinn (protein shake), and Stanzi (Field Hockey, but in a dress). Do any of those names strike fear in opposing defenses? The week that an opponent plays us is a holiday week for their defensive coordinator. “Hmmm, let’s see. Stack the box. Done.” I’m sick thinking about next year, and it’s March.

  • March 23, 2012  - el cid says:

    We still have the draft. No Qb, but there are other needs to be met.

    My discomfort is we may only be able to move from 4th to 3rd. We could be wasting the best years for our elite players with limited talent around them and the AFC West staying ahead of Chiefs efforts. Dislike saying this but it keep coming back to no elite, or even, above average QB play. Just good enough, seems to be the new byword replacing right 53.

  • March 23, 2012  - Clarence Powell says:

    Bob, your wife , daughters, sister, and Mom, apparently made good observations about your occasional roadblocks. I’ve been reading your articles since their inception because I read all articles pertaining to the Chiefs. Often, over the years, our opinions differ considerably, as in the case of your current “Weekend Cup of Chiefs”.

    I don’t know what Webster’s Dictionary you read, but the Webster’s I own, along with several other dictionaries, do not define competition the way you did. None of the Chiefs’ fans, unless they are privy to info that the rest of us are not, know how Romeo Crennel will conduct his training camp and competition at any position. None of us know how any of the players that will be in this years training camp will perform, and subsequent decisions made by Romeo. So I suggest that we all wait until training camp before being so judgmental.

    I plan to attend some of the sessions this year, when possible, so I can make an intelligent assessment concerning the 2012 Chiefs.

    Despite my disagreement with many things you say, I enjoy reading your articles. Thanks for your site.

  • March 23, 2012  - txchief says:

    The problem is that the only “elite” QB available as a free agent this year was Manning, and he completely snubbed the Chiefs and their fans. I don’t know what else Pioli or Hunt could do a this point other than an (unlikely) trade for Brees or drafting another prospect. There have always been fewer great QBs than teams that need them. As a whole, the team is already better than it was at the end of the 2011 season.

  • March 23, 2012  - el cid says:

    tx, we agree to disagree. I am with you until you say the team is “already better….end of 2011″. We are better in that RT problem has been solved. We are better in that the walking wounded “should” return to play. Hollis can be better than Battle, but I worry about his mental workings. We are less at CB, and the other free agents are mostly for depth. If injury bites us again or the 2011 injured do not return to play at a similar level or we cannot find a NT somewhere, lots of opportunity regress. So I do not buy into already better theory.

  • March 23, 2012  - R W says:

    To be fair, at the time, 3 years ago, Pioli was the preferred go-to, hot, must-have, GM candidate. In a rare departure from strong scrutiny, I’ll give Clark Hunt credit for romancing, luring, then getting that candidate.

    Surely, I thought, (we all thought?), this was proof positive of the Chiefs turning up and away from the stagnant Carl Peterson years? As it turns out….well, we all know how it’s turned out in the 3 years since Pioli’s introduction to the media cameras.

    Pioli has been in no certain order, a micro-manager, paranoid of anyone knowing the slightest scintilla of team information, a ‘Jimmie Carter’ type that comes across as holier than thou in most every area of discussion, and lacking the basic skills of deft management.

    Did I leave anything out? Probably, but, let’s move on. What we have in Pioli is someone lacking in confidence but covering up that deficiency by cloaking himself and all he touches in some kind of a Darth Vader cloak of power crazy intimidation to employees, players and coaches.

    Even if I’m remotely close to being accurate, is this the environment of building a consistent winning team? Again, to be fair, I was surprised to see a coveted FA like Winston sign on. There could be the faint hope that Pioli has seen the error of his past ways, learned from it, and having taken the cure, moved on to be a GM we all thought he would be from jump street.

    If that is the case, I’ll be the first to shout Pioli hosannas. Until further evidence surfaces, I’m also reminded of a truism I learned in my Psychology 101 course: “People change, but rarely”.

  • March 23, 2012  - napahank says:

    I see two separate issues in play and you are mixing the two. The first issue is increased level of competition/depth at all other positions except QB.

    On that issue I think THIS year Pioli has on a masterful job. We added good/very good players (you can never get all or afford all you want)and only lost Carr. No team keeps everyone they want and we don’t know if KC tried to extend/resign Carr last year or during the 2011 season so there is no way I can pass judgement without the facts.

    The only thing we know is the tidbits about Carr liking KC and maybe he and his agent used that to jack up the asking price for suitors…just don’t know.

    Now Issue #2: Cassell competition. When Pioli first signed Cassell he was coming off an 11-5 season who played 99% of the snaps with no advance warning during a typical training camp year where Brady was the confirmed #1 QB.

    I was thrilled with the signing in light of what other “proven” QB was available. I have watched and re-watched the entire 2010 season and I see a QB who is good, in fact very good, but not refined. I expected to see that refinement happen in 2011 under Zorn; however, the season blew up with the lockout and major injuries out of the gate.

    Where I stand is that (all things being equal) Cassell has the weapons, line, QB coach, OC and head coach support he needs to go to the next level. Come next January you will no longer be confused-I promise. We will all know one way or another about Matt Cassell.

  • March 23, 2012  - Johnfromwichita says:

    Sometimes it sucks to be a fan. I am sooo trying to be positive. It is not always easy. I don’t think there is a lot of quality players left in the free agent market. Winston was a great pick. Hollis will pkay a lot and Quinn is certainly better than Palko. I’m going to have wait for the draft. I’ve got four players that we have go to get one and I’d be really happy for two of them. In (my) sequence they are Trent Richardson RB from AL, Dontari Poe NT from Memphis, David DeCostro OG from Stanford, Dre Kirckpatrick CB from AL. I’m probably going to more attention to this draft than I normally do. Sometimes it just sucks to be a fan.

  • March 23, 2012  - cychief24 says:

    Bob- I take it as a compliment that you spend a column on what I said in a comment yesterday. I’d rather know if Franklin visited yet and how the other Carr visit went. Maybe a roster analysis like Looney provided this week.
    I teach 8th grade but I think with my experience with youth baseball and football camps I can come down to your “5th grade” level to help you understand ;)
    Cassel (27td/7int/Pro Bowl-AFC West Champs in ’10) is the starting QB. Quinn with some NFL game experience chose to take less money to be the back up. Stanzi is the development 3rd unless he is drafted over.

    Pioli/Crennel believe Cassel will return to his ’10 form with the weapons he had that year returning along with the improvements that have been made since that Division Championship year.

    Better WRs with Breaston and Baldwin; then this month= 2nd TE, 2nd RB, competent back up QB and most important a stud RT.

    There you go Bob. I do disagree concerning Routt vs. B. Carr. I also think spending another $50M at CB would be foolish when Routt signed for much less.
    Some of the comments are laughable. Another long year? We won the Division in ’10 and were in the playoff hunt at our last home game until Orton threw those picks. Oh, and Tenand6 it was packed.
    I haven’t seen Arrowhead “half-filled” since the frozen Miami game in Dec.’08.

    Like I said, I signed up again because Bob had toned the Pioli attacks down some and I thought he refocus on the Chiefs as a team again. Even though I missed on that assumption I still will enjoy saying I told you so all season long. :)

    Now I’m going to check a few other sites to see if anyone has reported on Franklin and Chris Carr.
    Go Chiefs!

  • March 23, 2012  - cychief24 says:

    napahank- great post!
    I forgot to mention hiring a true OC instead of the 3 headed monster of Teen Haley/old Muir/Zorn.

    Cassel had success with good OC’s (Weis/McDaniel).

  • March 23, 2012  - spellchecker says:

    Unlike a lot of folks, I don’t think Cassel is that bad. I like the Quinn signing, too.

    But, VY is competition. VY is a Tim Tebow who can pass.

  • March 23, 2012  - rufus jefferson says:

    I’ve pretty much reached my limit with pro football bob. enough double speak from pioli, hunt, goodell and the broadcast booth. I’m tired of “defenseless receivers” and “roughing the passer”.

    I’m tired of the spin that is given when labeling every player breaking records today as “the greatest”.

    I’m tired of no more big hits while we have to pay tribute to the troops. I’m tired of flyovers and bailouts and senators looking into tackling.

    I’m tired of the game, because this game is not that game I love. no way. this game is more like basketball with goal posts instead of nets.

    I’m tired of “making examples” of Mike Vick, Plax & Payton.

    I’m tired of fitting my long frame into $300 seats made for kids.

    I’ll continue to peak in on your site because I like your style, my man..

  • March 23, 2012  - ED J says:

    Come on Bob another swipe at Pioli. When will it end this is becoming unbearable. Bottom line is Quinn has been on a good enough team to be judge whether he’s a good QB or not if Brady had been playing for Browns I doubt with that talent they had he’d fair any better than Quinn. That being said he has expericence was successful in Weis system in College when he had better talent. So now he’s here in KC with alot better talent than what he had in Cleveland so to me he presents competition. A guy who is familiar with Patriot system from college and also played under Daboll. Then lets go to Cassel. cychief is right when Cassel had a legitimate OC he had success. Its obvious Cassel is system QB nothing is wrong with that as long as he performs within that system. So now we’re back to running Patriots system which is fine it plays to both Quinn and Cassel only going help both guys be successful. We don’t need QB competition because if you’re debating on who’s the man well ask Crennel and Quinn how that turns out. Bottom line Cassel is the starter he has everything in front of him to be successful this season I expect him to step up to the plate.

  • March 23, 2012  - cychief24 says:

    Who knew Edj and I would end up the same page :)

    spellchecker- there’s a reason nobody will touch Vince Young. I’m not sure exactly why, maybe there’s a media type could put down his ax long enough to find out.

    rufus…have a beer man ;)

  • March 24, 2012  - BigJimInWisconsin says:

    Good idea cychief24. I think we all need a beer. I hear one calling me now from the fridge.

    Go CHIEFS!

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