This Cassel Not On Solid Ground?

Matt Cassel was just a backup who hadn't started a game until Week 2 last season. After a slow start, Cassel finished strong keeping the Patriots in the playoff hunt and earning the support of his teammates and coaches. In Kansas City, Cassel isn't exactly getting the same ringing endorsements from his head coach.

Given a chance on Tuesday to declare that Matt Cassel is his quarterback, Chiefs coach Todd Haley took a pass.

When it was pointed out that a lot of head coaches in the league believe they have to choose a starting quarterback and stick with him to avoid creating a distraction, Haley said his "past experience" in the NFL taught him to be open to change at the position.

The subject is a point of discussion because in two games the Chiefs had two different quarterback performances. Against Baltimore, Brodie Croyle started and turned in a good game, throwing for a pair of touchdown passes and no interceptions. Against Oakland, Matt Cassel started and turned in a so-so performance, throwing a touchdown pass and two interceptions. The common denominator is that the Chiefs lost both games.

Thus, second-guessing abounds with the quarterback position. Cassel will come back and start this Sunday against the Eagles in Philadelphia.

But that guarantees nothing with Haley, who, based on his experiences during his assistant coaching career, isn't afraid to make a change.

"All the way back to the New York Jets, I was there with coach (Bill) Parcells and we had a guy named Glen Foley that the entire city of New York and Long Island was excited about. We picked up Vinny (Testaverde) right before training camp and after three games it was clear that Vinny would give us the best chance to win. I was there for that change.

"I was there in Dallas when we brought in Drew Bledsoe to play quarterback. We had a guy in Tony Romo, who as days went on you saw this guy maybe gives us the best shot to win and we made a mid-season change.

"There's no more glaring example than last year with Matt (Leinart) and Kurt (Warner). Matt being a No. 1 pick that everybody was excited about seeing and when we made that change there was a lot of negative feedback. What are you doing? What about the future? There weren't too many people saying much when we were in the Super Bowl last year.

"Those are decisions you have to make as the head coach. You've got to ultimately do what you think gives your team the best chance to win. If that means another quarterback is in there than Matt Cassel, then sign me up."

Cassel is coming back from a sprained left knee that cost him two weeks of playing time. He's also the $63 million man who the Chiefs paid a second-round draft choice to acquire from the Patriots.

"I like a lot about this guy," Haley said of Cassel. "Anybody watching you can see the competitiveness; here's a guy that is injured that was not running with that thought in his mind. He added 34 yards of rushing to our game and when you do that, it's positive.

"That being said, I'm excited about Brodie's progress. Brodie getting to play in the first game, got his feet under him, started to gain some confidence and that was clear in this past week's practices. I expect all those guys to improve every week. That's their job and my job to make our quarterback better every day."

Better, no matter the name on the back of the jersey.

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