Second-Half Cassel …Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

The gnashing of teeth in the Chiefs Nation over Matt Cassel and his performance has subsided for a week, maybe even two weeks given the bye weekend ahead for the Chiefs and their much maligned quarterback and leader.

Coming off a three touchdown pass performance against San Francisco, Cassel seemingly was forgiven for his first half interception against the Niners. He came back in the second half and threw the ball well and the Chiefs rolled to their third straight victory with a balanced offense that included those three TD passes to three different receivers.

In fact, the second half of the last two games has featured Cassel at his best. OK, maybe not his best, but compared to his first half performances in those games, he took quite a step forward in the third and fourth quarters against Cleveland and San Francisco. Here are his passing numbers for those games broken down to what he did in the first and second half against the Browns and 49ers:






Avg. Att.




First Half









Second Half









Obviously by those numbers the second half included less passing overall than the first half the past few weeks. That makes Cassel’s numbers stand out even more. He was able to make far more out of his fewer opportunities than he did in the first half.

The differences in his first and second half numbers are significant: nearly 16 percent improvement in completion percentage, some 4.5 yards more per attempt and over a 92-point difference in the passer rating number.

So what has been the difference? Is it the half-time adjustments? Is he more settled after intermission than he is in the first half? Does the play calling by coordinator Charlie Weis change from one half to another?

As almost always happens in these situations it’s a little bit of all those factors, plus a few more. Mostly, it’s just the continued maturation of an NFL quarterback able to respond when necessary by elevating his performance.

“I don’t think we can forget that he’s still a developing quarterback, and many of these situations he’s not seen before,” said head coach Todd Haley. “He keeps improving and he keeps learning from what he’s going through. That’s how a quarterback develops.”

Cassel thinks the difference in the last two weeks has come from the Chiefs being able to balance out the offense.

“The balanced attack keeps the defense honest,” Cassel said. “The offensive line is doing a great job and we’re mixing and matching with running the ball well and play-action pass, it really helps.”

It’s also a factor when the Chiefs have a lead in the second half and they begin to work the clock and rely on the running game. In those two games, the play calls on offense in the first half were 46 percent run, 54 percent pass. In the second half, the ratio is 71 percent run, 29 percent pass.

Fewer opportunities to throw can be looked at from two different perspectives. There’s the “they didn’t throw much so there were fewer chances to Cassel to struggle” theory. Or, “fewer opportunities made his second half passing numbers impressive.”

There’s no question Cassel has been more effective in the second half in the last two games. He looked for rookie TE Tony Moeaki more than any other receiver, throwing to him seven times in the second half in the last two games. Moeaki caught four passes for 55 yards. WR Dwayne Bowe was next, as Cassel found him four times, missing on two other throws.

Cassel is an emotional guy and even once in awhile it comes out on the field. Is there a chance he starts the games too keyed up and thus tends to be off with his throws?

“Again, he’s a developing quarterback and all that goes with that,” said Haley.

After 33 starts, Cassel is willing to admit there remains a lot of room for him to grow and improve as a quarterback.

“(I’m) still eager to get better each and every time I go out,” Cassel said. “I am blessed to be able to play this game and I am excited to be in this position, in this city and with this team. I am excited about where we can go so I am happy to be here and I am eager to keep going and see where we can take this thing.”


  • AFC – named Ravens WR Anquan Boldin offensive player of the week, Chiefs LB Tamba Hali defensive player of the week and Bills returner C.J. Spiller as special teams player of the week.
  • NFC – named Vikings RB Adrian Peterson offensive player of the week, Cowboys LB DeMarcus Ware defensive player of the week and Seahawks returner Leon Washington special teams player of the week.
  • NFC – named Eagles QB Michael Vick offensive player of the month.
  • BILLS – signed OLB Chris Kelsay to a 4-year, $24 million contract extension through 2014.
  • COLTS – signed LB Tyjuan Hagler; released TE Gijon Robinson; placed LB Ramon Humber on the injured-reserve list (hand), ending his season.
  • DOLPHINS – signed DE Rob Rose from their practice squad; released LB Erik Walden.
  • PANTHERS – signed C Chris Morris, last with the Raiders.
  • PATRIOTS – signed G Rich Ohrnberger from their practice squad.
  • RAIDERS – signed S Stevie Brown off their practice squad.
  • RAVENS – re-signed S Ken Hamlin; released DE Trevor Pryce.
  • SAINTS – released WR Adrian Arrington.
  • TEXANS – released CB Jamar Wall.

14 Responses to “Second-Half Cassel …Thursday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • September 30, 2010  - Edward says:

    Cassel is going to be fine. As long as Chalie keep finding creative ways to utilize guys like Mcluster and Bowe. Very smart of him instead of letting Mcluster run alot routes like a conventional receiver which he’s struggled a little bit keeping his footing. He lined him up in the backfield and let him run little wheel routes out the backfield. Preety much just getting him the ball in space allowing him to make a play. Weis is starting to get a feel for what this receiving core can and can’t do which will further help Cassel. Will be interesting to see if he’ll ocntinue to try to get Bowe more involved. To me he’s the key. If we can get Bowe to start to play at an higher level and get him more involved in the passing game Cassel numbers will continue to soar.

  • September 30, 2010  - el cid says:

    Depends on your definition of “fine”. I think Cassel will be tough, competant, and better than 40percent of the other NFL starting QBs. But I doubt he will ever be in the top 10 percent. That is ok because the Chiefs can make the promised land (my standard – playing in a SB). But do you feel he is a building block, someone for the future, I do not.

    We are just short at WR, period. That will be the next project for Pioli/Haley. What we have on the roster is a major part of the Cassel situation. Again just guys, nothing special no matter what their stats say. Sure like Horne for potential but no results yet.

  • September 30, 2010  - gorillafan says:

    I agree with ya, im really worried about our next 2 games though…..

  • September 30, 2010  - Tracy says:

    el cid–Just where do you think Cassel would ultimately rank? Granted, he’s not at the same level as Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger or Drew Brees. Nor is he Joe Montana, Troy Aikman or Steve Young.

    But is he as good as Jim McMahon, Doug Williams, Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson? If not yet, then robably before long. As you said, the supporting cast is so very important as is a uniform mindset in all 53 players.

    What we are seeing, up close and eagerly, is something beyond the gestation period of a rebuild. It is more like baby steps that so far have not resulted in a spill or tumble.

    Don’t fret, enjoy the ride

  • September 30, 2010  - patrick says:

    I think success in the next few games will hinge much more on our D than what the offense does – esp the Colts game. The key will be qb pressure and not giving up the long pass play.

  • September 30, 2010  - Nate says:

    Bob, this is the best and most accurate evaluation of Cassel that I have seen. You are right on.

  • September 30, 2010  - jim says:

    Most of the issues in the early part of games is overthrows. He seems to be high on many throws, and I think that might be a functon of too much adrenelin. After he settles down, the throws come down. Also, there seems to be a number of throws on the back side of the receiver instead of out in front. May be a function of ‘it’s the only place to put it’ because of defenders. Also, while in the pocket he seems to try to ‘look’ his receivers open. If they are not open, or he can’t throw them open, he needs to process it quicker and check it down.

    Just some observations.

  • September 30, 2010  - Jimbo says:

    Cassel is still, of sorts, an enigma. Many people, myself included are finding it very difficult understanding his current performance level. He has revealed thus far a mixed bag of talent, ability & caution or hesitation if you will. It’s like flipping a coin calling it heads or tails & we get the same result, despite what side the coin lands on. I’m like el cid, I don’t think he is a “very good” QB or ever will be. On the other hand, I don’t think he “stinks up the joint” either.

    Obviously Matt Cassel’s work environment has improved tremendously from last season. The talent around him is providing all the comfort & joy a QB could ask for. People say just give him time & more time & more time & he will get better & better & better. Pioli & Haley are standing firmly with their Cassel. They sincerely believe he has the moxy & talent to win championships. Those same two guys chose very wisely in the draft this year, much to my initial dismay. So who am I to question or judge their decision on our mediocre QB destined to take us to “the promised land”.

    I’ve decided to cautiously stay patient with the “Minds that Be” and trust they are much wiser than me. After all, we are 3-0… In the meantime you can find me for the next 8 or 9 days reveling & splashing in a pool of cherry Kool-Aid, dreaming of our team in Dallas come February.

    Realistically though, at least to me…Matt Cassel is still an enigma.
    Go Chiefs.

  • September 30, 2010  - Carl says:

    I like Matt Cassel. He has a great attitude and work ethic. I hope he can develop and succeed.

    Having said that, he sometimes looks like a deer in headlights and a bit slow both mentally and physically.

    I’m hoping for the best for his sake as well as the team’s. However, unfortunately, I have my doubts.

  • September 30, 2010  - Devin says:

    Cassel will be fine. It takes time for a QB to develop. Drew Brees took time also. It wasn’t until his third year that he started to look like a decent QB. That is why they drafted Rivers because they got impatient with Drew. Look where he is now. Give Cassel time and better receivers. I’m not saying he will join the ranks of the elite, but he will be a good QB.

  • September 30, 2010  - robotfighter says:

    I, too, think Cassel is going to be ok. His biggest asset is that he is available every week. If the receivers improve with their drops–it seems as if they have–and Cassel learns to throw the ball away–ala Elvis Grbac in his Pro Bowl year–there will be a big improvement right there.

  • September 30, 2010  - el cid says:

    I believe we are all saying the same thing. Cassel is the man at QB for the Chiefs, no doubt about it. We are just splitting hairs. The level of his “potential” is what is being debated. So I guess I go with Jimbo with some reservation about Cassel. It is nice not to have to read about Brodie or Palko or the other kid “just needing a chance”.

  • September 30, 2010  - Nate says:

    In looking at the game a second time I was really happy to see Cassel complete the three passed to McCluster for 69 yards and a TD. On all three he looked the defense off and didn’t look to McCluster until he threw the ball. In the previous 2 games he didn’t look the defensive backs off and the passes were incomplete or McCluster got clobbered as soon as he caught the ball for little or no gain.

  • September 30, 2010  - jim says:

    Where would Cassell be in terms of progress IF he had played four years in college, etc.

    Maybe because he didn’t have that time to naturally mature under the fire of game day play, our staff sees him with a lot more upside potential than the casual observers that we are?

    He is really about four year behind in development and still managing the game nicely. Winning games, no, but as of today, not loosing games for us with bad throws or bad decisions.

    Just sayin—-

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