Blame Haley For Cassel's Struggles

The Chiefs' offensive troubles continued to linger Sunday as the team failed to put up a single touchdown drive. As the team progressively moves further towards obscurity, who should we point the finger at?

The most likely candidate to feel the wrath of a frustrated Chiefs fan base is starting quarterback Matt Cassel, who in no way resembles the quarterback who led a similar Kansas City offense to the playoffs en route to his first Pro Bowl appearance a year ago.

Did Cassel over achieve in 2010 or is there another problem that hasn't been brought to light?

After watching his performance the past two weeks, I have to say it is the latter.

It's hard to sugarcoat the statistics Cassel has put up over the past two weeks, but I will try to make the case. Through two weeks, Cassel has gone 37 of 58 for 252 yards with one touchdown, four interceptions and a quarterback rating of 54.5. He finished the 2010 season with 27 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a quarterback rating of 93.

Say what you want about Cassel, but last year his numbers were not only acceptable for a third-year starter, but undeniably good. So, is Cassel really the one who deserves the finger to be pointed at him or is it the management around him?

Shane Williams, of Warpaint TV, recently pointed out to me that although Cassel had a strong 2010 showing, he made a drastic downhill turn after his performance against the Tennessee Titans in Week 16.

What was the significance of that game? It was the last time former offensive coordinator Charlie Weis was making the play calls. According to Warpaint Illustrated sources, Weis was relieved of his play calling duties during the Chiefs' victory over the Titans and coincidentally, Weis announced the next week he was leaving the Chiefs to take a job in Florida.

Cassel hasn't been the same since.

In the Chiefs' final two games of 2010, Cassel was a forgettable 20 of 51 with no touchdowns, five interceptions and a quarterback rating of 19.75. Through two regular season games in 2011, Cassel is looking less like the quarterback we saw in the first 15 games of 2010 and more like the quarterback we saw the final week against the Raiders and in the playoff game against the Ravens.

Cassel is not blameless in his regression but you can't ignore the fact that Weis turned Cassel into a Pro Bowl quarterback. In return for his efforts he was relieved of his duties and shipped down to Florida for some family bonding.

The fact that Weis got more out of Cassel than any other coach he's worked with is undeniable. The fault of letting that coach leave (assuming you believe the Chiefs explanation for the Weis "resignation") lies at the feet of either Todd Haley or Scott Pioli (or both of them).

Anyone who made the drive to St. Joseph, MO for Chiefs training camp this summer could tell you that Cassel receives little to no support from his head coach. In watching the Chiefs through the preseason, it was apparent that new quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn was doing all he could to shield Cassel from Haley's negative reinforcement.

Cassel has not been good through two games but the lion's share of this team's problems are not at the quarterback position. Cassel threw three interceptions Sunday (although two hit his receivers square in the hands) but how could you blame the guy for taking those kinds of risks?

Haley, who is supposed to have his starter's back, undermined Cassel's quarterbacks coach (Weis) during Cassel's best season. He also seems eager to give the starting job to a journeyman named Tyler Palko. If Cassel takes a few low percentage shots at his receivers, can you really blame him?

Cassel is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Until his head coach gets back to coaching receivers instead of trying to be an offensive coordinator/quarterback repressor, Cassel's production in Kansas City will be limited.

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