Cassel Is Still Failing Chiefs

The outrage surrounding the Chiefs' latest loss – Sunday's 43-14 embarrassment in San Diego – seems to focus mostly on Kansas City's inept defense. Jamaal Charles, too, has drawn criticism for his second-quarter fumble.

What's not understandable is why Matt Cassel is escaping criticism this week. Where is the outrage over what was one of his worst games in 2009?

If you just looked at a box score, it might seem like Cassel played an average game and succumbed to insurmountable odds (terrible defense) like the rest of his offensive teammates. There's nothing about a 19-of-31, 178-yard, one-touchdown, one-interception performance that screams "WE NEED A NEW QUARTERBACK!"

But when you look at what really happened in San Diego, it becomes evident that just like the last time the Chiefs played the Chargers, Cassel failed his teammates. A month passed between Kansas City's 37-7 and 43-14 losses, but apparently not much changed under center. In fact, you can argue things got worse.

In Kansas City's initial meeting with San Diego, Cassel's inaccurate passing blew an opportunity for the Chiefs to get back into the game. This time, sheer boneheaded plays from Cassel essentially gave the game away, and it didn't take a genius to see the Chiefs weren't going to get back in it with the way he was flinging the ball around.

We'll begin with Cassel's first-quarter interception. Maybe you don't want to lay the blame at his feet, considering it was a tipped pass. But as beat writer Pat Clifton pointed out following Sunday's game, this variety of tipped pass should never happen. This one was on Cassel and no one else.

Cassel nailed a defensive lineman right in the helmet. This type of error simply doesn't happen to good quarterbacks who know how to release the ball at the proper angle. Cassel practically sidearmed this throw, and considering the lineman wasn't even attempting to block his pass, it's inexcusable. Even worse, Cassel was throwing to a 6-foot-8 target (Brad Cottam) running a two-yard route on third and long. The interception was the result of a boneheaded play made in pursuit of a lost cause.

That gifted the Chargers with a short field which they easily turned into a 7-0 lead. We can blame other people – defenders, Charles - for what happened between that point and Cassel's next turnover, but there's no question that his second inexcusable blunder ended any realistic chance the Chiefs had at winning the game.

Cassel's fumble just before halftime, which was returned for a touchdown, might be excused by some as a freak occurrence. The ball just squirted out of his hand as he began his throwing motion. Why is that his fault?

I'll tell you why – he's a bad quarterback. You might want to give him a pass for his game-ending turnover but at this point, after 10 starts, it's fairly obvious there is something seriously off in Cassel's game. His butterfingers screw-up is no different than all the other bad things that have happened to other bad quarterbacks throughout NFL history. It might as well have happened to Ryan Leaf, Joey Harrington or Tim Couch.

Bad things happen to bad quarterbacks. Bad things keep happening to Matt Cassel. You can make all the excuses you want, but if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, guess what? It's a duck with a $63 million contract.

And speaking of ducks (in this case the wounded variety), we don't even have to limit our San Diego post-mortem to Quack Cassel's turnovers. The same issue that plagued him in Week 7 against the Chargers – terrible accuracy – again reared its ugly head Sunday. On KC's first possession, Cassel threw an off-target pass towards Lance Long, forcing the receiver to make a sliding catch. Instead of picking up a first down, Long was stopped short, and after a failed third-down conversion on the next snap, the Chiefs punted. That's the kind of mistake that doesn't show up in the box score.

Later, Cassel had Bobby Wade open on a skinny post for an easy 20 yards had he placed the ball out in front. But the ball was thrown so far behind Wade he barely got a mitt on it, breaking up a potential interception. Dan Fouts was far too kind in saying the pass was "just behind" Wade. It might as well have been thrown by JaMarcus Russell.

I can keep going – Cassel threw behind Chambers on an easy slant play, denying him yards after the catch. He managed to put the ball beyond the reach of Cottam's massive wingspan on a pass in the end zone. Even though the Chiefs moved the chains on the first throw and scored a touchdown one snap after the second throw, these plays cannot be examined in a vacuum at this point. They are symptoms of a larger, ongoing problem – Cassel's inaccuracy.

There are only four starting quarterbacks who are currently completing a lower percentage of their passes than Cassel. Two of them are rookies. What does that say about a player the Chiefs handed $63 million to, especially when they had a golden opportunity to draft either of those rookie quarterbacks?

Here is the truly scary revelation – Cassel's production is trending downward even though the Chiefs are winning more games with a more talented, cohesive roster compared to the beginning of the season. We now have a 10-game sample of his performance as a Kansas City Chief and at least statistically, the first five games (57.1 percent passing, seven touchdowns, two interceptions, 82.2 quarterback rating) are more impressive than his last five (54.1 percent passing, six touchdowns, five interceptions, 72.9 quarterback rating).

I could honestly go on and on at this point as we approach the 1,000-word mark. Cassel prematurely slid a yard short of a first down one play before Rudy Niswanger snapped the ball over his head in the shotgun on third down. In what is becoming the calling card of his career, both in New England and Kansas City, Cassel underthrew yet another deep ball Sunday (quack quack). He was bailed out only because of a spectacular catch by his receiver.

That receiver, of course, was Jamaal Charles. His fumble, which may have turned the game against the Chargers, has been a hot topic this week. But I want to know where the outrage is over Matt Cassel. He leads the entire National Football League in fumbles. Top Stories