To Play Or To Sit? … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

Matt Cassel walked into the room wearing slippers.

These were not special football slip-ons. They were the kind of slippers your Dad might wear after he’s put on the pajamas and has settled down to watch a little TV before bed-time.

“They are cozy,” Cassel said when asked about his selection of footwear.

He didn’t explain why he was wearing the slippers, but it didn’t take much to deduce why? The Chiefs quarterback injured an ankle in Sunday’s game at Denver. He never came out of the game and in fact threw every pass through the game’s last minutes. But there’s no doubt he was hobbled.

Cassel was on the practice field Wednesday and was a full participant in the work, according to head coach Todd Haley. He did not even turn up on the team’s practice/injury report to the league. But puttering around the locker room, meetings and training room in slippers had to help a bit with the throbbing joint.

When asked about his ankle, Cassel said little, but spoke his piece.

It’s fine, I’m not limited at all,” Cassel said.

There’s no question that there should be a lot of questions about why an injured Cassel and several other players were still on the field in the fourth quarter of the blowout loss to Denver. When the fourth quarter started, the Chiefs were down 42-17. There was not going to be a huge comeback, with the Chiefs scoring four touchdowns to win the game.

No one likes to give up, and most especially professionals who work hard and sacrifice to reach a high level of performance. But sometimes coming back to fight another day is better than going down with the ship.

Cassel’s not buying that, and he was on the field Sunday because he wanted to be on the field.

“It was us trying to get better as an offensive unit, to get better in the passing game and also we’ve got to continue to fight,” Cassel said. “In this business you are paid to play for 60 minutes and that’s what we were doing.”

Is there any situation where he willing leave the game, or will somebody have to grab him by the back of his shoulder pads and drag him to the bench?

“I want to be out there for every single snap and until somebody tells me I’m out, I’m going to try to go out for each and every play,” Cassel said.

Haley said there were discussions within the coaching staff on Sunday about having some players sit down in the fourth quarter.

“We had those discussions throughout that game, throughout the second half or the fourth quarter, wherever we got to that point where you said, let’s be smart here and get some experience for some guys,” said Haley. “But you only have so many options.”

Because the 53-man roster has to be chopped to 45 for the games, that does limit the number of players a coach can reach for – it’s a silly rule and one the NFL should have changed years ago.

But there was an option for Cassel and that was backup QB Brodie Croyle, who hasn’t played at all this year. There was an option for replacing the oldest player on the roster, C Casey Wiegmann with Rudy Niswanger.

Was Wiegmann still on the field because of his consecutive snap streak of 9,672 that dates back to 2001? Did Haley not want to be the guy that ended the incredible streak of the Lou Gehrig of football centers?

“I treat everybody the way they deserve to be treated and the way they need to be coached and it’s not all the same,” said Haley. “Casey’s obviously one of those guys that has earned a great amount of my respect and if Casey wants to play, we’re going to let him play.”

All through this season, Haley has talked about the need for everybody on the roster to make a contribution. Several weeks ago, he was very concerned about the number of snaps players were getting – some too many, others not enough.

The second half and especially the fourth quarter of this game was a time to get players some snaps. Croyle hasn’t played this year. Young inexperienced CB Jackie Bates was active for the game, but he did not play. Thirty-five year old OLB Mike Vrabel was pulled and Andy Studebaker was on the field in the base defense. Rookie LB Cory Greenwood has been good on special teams; he should have been given a chance to play on defense at inside linebacker for Derrick Johnson. RB Jackie Battle should have been given more snaps in the fourth quarter instead of continuing to run Jamaal Charles out there.

That there are players who do not want to come out is a good sign for the Chiefs and Haley. These are the type of people who are in the game not just for the check on Monday. They are proud and the type of players that makeup the foundation for any successful team.

Who plays, when they get on the field and how long they are out there is a decision that needs to be made by the coaches and especially the head coach. He has to have a big-picture view. On a team that’s in transition, the potential for losing a key player in a game where the outcome has been decided could be a killer.

Football is a game of collisions and contact. Players get hurt. Why have it happen in a game where they can have so little effect on a positive outcome.


  • AFC – named Broncos QB Kyle Orton offensive player of the week; Patriots S James Sanders as defensive player of the week; Colts K Adam Vinatieri as special teams player of the week.
  • BRONCOS – released OLB Jarvis Moss; signed LB David Veikune, last with Browns.
  • CHARGERS – placed TE Fendi Onobun on the injured-reserve list (back) ending his season.
  • CHIEFS – placed LB Mark Simoneau on the injured-reserve list ending his season; re-signed LB Charlie Anderson.
  • 49ERS – re-signed K Shane Andrus.
  • JAGUARS – claimed WR Jason Hill off waivers from the 49ers.
  • LIONS – placed CB Jack Williams on the injured-reserve list (knee) ending his season.
  • PANTHERS – placed RB DeAngelo Williams on the injured-reserve list (foot) ending his season; rookie QB Tony Pike will start in Sunday’s game against the Ravens.
  • PATRIOTS – re-signed LB Pierre Woods.

7 Responses to “To Play Or To Sit? … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • November 18, 2010  - TDKC says:

    Lot’s of learning left to do. Nearly every level of the organization is either new to the Chiefs or new to their position. Including ownership.

    I hope losses like the one in Denver speed up the process.

    And I hope there aren’t many more.

  • November 18, 2010  - Edward says:

    I think something to watch is how the passing game will elevate the balance of the offense. Though we were getting blown out guys like Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins didn’t stop playing. I think Bowe developed alot of confidence and rythem with Cassel in that game. I think Matt developed even more confidence in that game with the way he played in the second half. I even think Weis may have seen somethings in the second half of that game that he could use the rest of the season. I think that performance by both Cassel and Bowe will go along ways in providing balance to the offense where people try to stack the box but get burned by our passing game.

    I said to friend before I went to watch the Jacksonville game. That if we made the playoffs our QB will play a huge part in us making the playoffs. I knew at some point our running game would be slowed down and it will take some games where Cassel would have to do more to help this team win. I think in the Denver game in the second half Cassel channeled that guy that played in New England that had everyone saying Pats should trade Brady and make him the franchise QB for the Patriots. Now it’ll be interesting to see if he can maintain it for remaining 7 games and through the playoffs.

  • November 18, 2010  - gorillafan says:

    Edward, I agree. Some people were saying the game was over and it was “garbage”, but……they KNEW we had to pass and was going to pass, and they didnt stop us. Was it just a prevent defense, probably, but they still knew what we were going to do and they couldnt stop us.

    ANYTIME a qb has 469 yards, thats saying something, esp for our offense that hasnt came close. So were we out of the game? yes. Was denver defense just playing back and in a cushion? probably. But to me did succeed in passing and to me I was thrilled to see it for once, eventhough it didnt matter, I was VERY PLEASED to finally see it!!!!

    Just stinks when we run good, we cant throw. Or our D is playing good, our offense sucks, and visa-versa. WE are getting there and we will be able to play good in all aspects before too long. We can see that..sometimes its running, sometimes its the defense, theres like in denvers, the passing game gets going. It will all come together!!!

  • November 18, 2010  - Clarence says:

    Hey Bob,
    As always, thanks for your valuable insight. I believe that you are absolutely correct in questioning Haley’s decision to allow most of the key players to remain on the field in an obviously lost cause, especially since the Chiefs are so thin at quality players. If the backups are allowed to gain valuable playing time, they may improve to the point that they are good backups. I think pride got in the way of good judgmemt.

  • November 18, 2010  - gorillafan says:

    “I think pride got in the way of good judgmemt”

    I think it was pride to show this team that you dont quit. This isnt preseason or the end of the season coming into the playoffs, or we arent 9-0.
    I think it comes down to what Haley preaches….never quit, give 100% every play, and Haley didnt want to pull alot of guys out because that would have sent the message that he quits!!

  • November 18, 2010  - Edward says:

    Agreed. I think him leaving players in gorillafan does show the team he doesn’t give up. Will get those guys back when they come into Arrowhead.

  • November 18, 2010  - Michael says:

    I think Haley knows the team better than any of us, including Bob, so if leaving all the guys in was what he thought was good for the team and the players were behind that way of thinking, I wouldn’t argue with it.

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