|Paul Spinelli/Associated Press|
|Matt Cassel played poorly in the Chiefs' 30-7 loss to the Ravens in last year's playoffs.|
Is anyone in Kansas City getting nervous? Just wondering, mostly because the starting quarterback isn't garnering much confidence from me these days.
What did Matt Cassel do to deserve my doubt? After all, this is a guy who wowed everyone in 2010, tossing 27 touchdowns and just seven interceptions while leading the surprising Chiefs to an AFC West title.
Well, if we are gonna mention last year, then let's take into account ALL of it -- namely, the last two games.
» Week 17 -- A 31-10 home loss to the Raiders. Cassel's stat line: 11 of 33, 115 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. That's an abysmal 19.1 passer rating.
» Wild-card round -- A 30-7 home loss to the Ravens. Cassel's stat line: 9 of 18, 70 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. That procured a 20.4 passer rating.
OK, so two terrible games, but not enough to panic, right? Well, training camp and preseason haven't provided grounds for confidence in Cassel, either. In the first preseason game against the Bucs, Todd Haley didn't have Cassel throw a single pass. Last week I watched every pass Cassel threw in a 6-for-14 performance against the Ravens, and it wasn't great. The Chiefs' third-year starter was a hair off the mark on some passes and missed badly on a few others.
To be fair, Cassel looked amazing on a 26-yard completion to Dwayne Bowe, a beautifully-timed throw on a go-route down the right sideline. The problem is, there weren't any more of those throws from him the rest of the abbreviated outing.
That's where 2009 comes into play. Cassel was maddeningly inconsistent that season and the Chiefs had trouble generating any offense. They finished 25th in total yards, while Cassel had a paltry 69.9 passer rating.
One huge reason Cassel's played improved drastically last season was the effectiveness of the ground game, which was the gold standard in the NFL. Jamaal Charles averaged more than six yards per carry en route to nearly 1,500 yards, while Thomas Jones ran for 896. That opened things up for Cassel, Bowe, Tony Moeaki, and the rest of the air attack. For most of the season, Cassel made quality throws and looked accurate.
Cassel, however, hasn't looked accurate, or produced much quality, his last several times out. He's working with a new offensive coordinator, Bill Muir, after Charlie Weis left for the University of Florida during the offseason. While the Chiefs' hopes will rest heavily again on the running game, Cassel occasionally will need to win a game himself.
Bottom line: For the Chiefs to return to the playoffs and prove last season wasn't a fluke, Cassel will need to be accurate and not make mistakes.