Slumping Passing Game Key Chiefs Concern

Despite entering Week 6 with a 3-1 record, there is still discontent around the Red Kingdom over the Chiefs' sluggish passing game. And if offensive coordinator Charlie Weis can't get the air game jump started soon, many will be calling for some heads to role in the coming weeks.

But who is to blame for the lethargic passing game?

When a team's offense begins to show signs of struggle, the starting quarterback is the first to draw the eye of criticism, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to defer the blame away from starting quarterback Matt Cassel.

The excepted theory is that Cassel's poor statistical output is the manifestation of the Weis and Haley philosophy of ball control and avoiding the turnover. But when comparing Cassel to the rest of the QBs around the NFL, it doesn't appear that the incumbent starter is even accomplishing this feat.

With only three interceptions, Cassel is currently in a seven-way tie for fourth place for the fewest turnovers amongst QBs who have accumulated at least 14 passes per game.

Good, right?

Well, not so fast.

Cassel has only attempted 102 passes on the season, which is more than only eight quarterbacks in the league. Of those eight, only one – Chicago's Jay Cutler – has started and finished at least four games. Considering that Cutler lead the league in interceptions in 2009, it should come as no surprise that offensive coordinator Mike Martz has taken the ball out of his hands as well.

So is Cassel a good game manager, or just a QB that has lost the faith of his coaching staff?

The answer is both.

Cassel is doing exactly what the coaching staff is asking of him, but that's just it: they are not asking him to do anything to deserve the mega-contract he earned shortly after Pioli brought him to Kansas City.

Weis has very little faith in Cassel. And his game plan each week to take the ball out of the hands of his quarterback, supports that theory. If I am wrong, Sunday's contest in Houston will prove it.

The Texans passing attack led by QB Matt Schaub and WR Andre Johnson, is far superior than the Chiefs.
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The Texans pass defense is one of the NFL's bottom feeders. If Cassel is really the quarterback that Weis wants him to be, and not just the one he is contractually obligated to, the Chiefs will air it out. But if the passing game is again inept, Weis will be on the hook as well.

Weis has been sold as the saving grace for the Chiefs offense, but I still have my reservations about the so-called "offensive guru". In both of Weis' offensive coordinator gigs in New York and New England, his respective offenses were actually better statistically before he arrived.

In 1996 the Jets passing game was ranked 16th in yardage while the rushing attack was 25th. The year before Weis' arrival, the passing game was ranked 10th and the rushing 25th. Prior to arriving in New England, the Patriots passing offense was ranked 10th in the NFL with the rushing attack wallowing at 23rd. The following year the offense dropped to 19th as the rushing attack dropped to 26th.

Look, I understand that Weis eventually went on to win a Super Bowl ring in New England but considering he had future Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady leading the charge, how much credit is Weis really due?

Speaking of Brady, did you ever hear about Weis dialing down the Patriots passing game to avoid turnovers and put the team in position to win? Heck no! Weis knew he had a player he could trust and rode his right arm all the way to a Super Bowl victory. I would be happy to take any wager from any fan that expects the same from Cassel.

But I am not going to judge Weis exclusively by the evaluation of his quarterback play. In Sunday's loss to the Colts, Weis had a terrible game plan that too quickly went away from their running game in lieu of high percentage dink and dunk passes.

Weis was brought aboard to add firepower to this offense and make a Pro Bowler out of Cassel, but at this point, all he has done is ride the rushing attack that was established before his arrival.

I am not saying Weis is the wrong guy for the job, I just don't think he can be fully evaluated while he is handcuffed to Cassel. But I do know that with less offensive weapons, a considerably worse line, and no coordinator, the Chiefs finished the season with a 182.6 yard average per game. Through four games in 2010 with the same QB, the Chiefs are averaging only 158.

If both Weis and Cassel can't get it going against a Houston defense that is allowing 329.6 yards per game, both will have some tough questions to answer on Monday morning.

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