Don't Knock the QB Anymore

Though he's taken a lot of heat this season, nobody can or should blame Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel for the team's 49-29 loss at Denver. The fault lies elsewhere.

I hate to offend Chiefs fans, but Kansas City has a quarterback. Forget the rumblings that say Cassel can't lead the offense with his right arm. Despite the loss, Cassel finished the game 33 of 53 for 469 yards and three touchdowns.

Those numbers alone were more than enough to carry his team to a victory. However, the Achilles heel for Cassel was a horrific performance by his defensive mates. They were the reason the Chiefs fell behind 35-0 late in the first half, and that meant Cassel had to throw the ball far more times that he or the coaching staff planned.

True, the Chiefs were held to a season low 51 rushing yards, but it was enough to push the team over 500 yards on the afternoon. Ironically, it was the Broncos' offense that had a nice blend of pass and run, one that the Chiefs had hoped to achieve entering this game.

Now the Chiefs find themselves in a mess. They move to 5-4 on the season and fall into second place in the AFC West. Thanks to their loss a week ago at Oakland, the hated Raiders, who travel to Pittsburgh next weekend, own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Chiefs. Thus, for the first time this season the Chiefs are looking up instead of down in regards to the division pecking order.

Making matters worse, the Raiders are 3-0 in the AFC West and the Chiefs fall under the .500 mark with a 1-2 division record. That could prove costly for Kansas City down the road.

However, the regular season isn't over – not yet anyway. The Chiefs can still win the division because of a very light schedule ahead. But to do that, this team has to get back to the basics.

What they don't have to worry about, though, is their starting quarterback. Cassel continues to make good decisions with the ball and came within a yard of throwing five touchdowns on the day.

He's finding a groove with Dwayne Bowe, who caught 13 balls for 186 yards and two touchdowns. That gives the equally picked-on receiver nine on the season. And to think the Chiefs wanted to trade him in the offseason.

Right now Cassel is living up to the expectations that warranted his $63 million contract a year ago. On the season, he's thrown just four interceptions and has thrown 15 touchdowns in nine contests. In fact, that's as many touchdowns as he had a year ago in fifteen games as the team's starter.

On Sunday he put up great numbers despite the fact he was hobbling all game long with a sore ankle. Don't tell me he's not tough enough.

Matt Cassel can only glance at the scoreboard and wonder what might have been on Sunday at Denver.
Getty Images



The problem for this football team right now is that Cassel isn't the guy that's supposed to be carrying this team. But for the moment, he's the best playmaker the Chiefs have on offense.

He took a beating on Sunday but never quit. And had it not been for the lousy performance of the defense, all we'd be talking about today is what a great quarterback Cassel has become.

The Chiefs are a team in the cusp of peril. They're tumbling much like the Broncos did a year ago. They can turn things around, however, but unfortunately the path won't be easy.

Opposing teams are starting to figure out that if you give Cassel enough time to throw the ball, he can pick a defense apart. And when his receivers actually hold onto the ball, the yards and touchdowns start adding up. That's why the Broncos blitzed on virtually every passing down.

This isn't going to make too many people happy, but Cassel is the least of this team's problem. However, the better he's played and the more passes he's thrown the last two weeks have resulted in a pair of division losses. And therein lies the problem for the offense.

Cassel isn't known to be a guy that can make the kind of plays he made Sunday. He's not supposed to convert a fourth and goal from the 11-yard line and send a picture perfect pass to his hot receiver, Chris Chambers.

And one has to wonder, had the defense been able to stop the Broncos from scoring a pair of second half touchdowns, we might even be talking about a miraculous comeback. But that didn't happen and now the Chiefs have to regroup quickly.

In reality, the Chiefs stand 5-4 on the season and have all but erased their 3-0 start. Now we're about to find out what they're made of in the final seven games of the season.

And the man who might change their fortunes is none other than the starting quarterback.

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