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Cassel: Million Dollar Bust or Gem II?

By Bryce Bade

Last year I wrote an article, Cassel: Million Dollar Bust or Gem, talking about Chiefs starting quarterback, Matt Cassel and his accomplishments, or lack thereof, to date.

It's not many places that a college quarterback, who never started a game, and only threw 33 passes and only completing 20 of them for 192 yards, then in their fifth year in the league sign a six-year $62.7 Million contract with $28 Million guaranteed. Matt Cassel was brought in as the savior to the franchise, hoping to turn around what has been a dismal 3-4 years including all of Herman Edwards tenure (I don't count his first year in which he went 9-7('06) his true team, he was slightly changing Dick Vermeil's team until he completely dismantled them i 2007). Following starters, Brodie Croyle, Damon Huard and Tyler Thigpen, Matt Cassel took over the reigns of Kansas City's offense in 2009.

Matt Cassel has yet to prove himself as an NFL starter, in 17 regular season starts Cassel is 6-11 dating back to last season. This year, Cassel has completed only 26 out of his 50 passes for a measly 244 yards (on pace to throw 1700 yards and only 7 TD's). But somehow he keeps winning, is it the running game? Or possibly the lackluster defense that has been the laughing stock of the NFL for the last 4-5 years?

Matt Cassel has big shoes to fill in Kansas City where they have always gained good starting quarterbacks through free agency and trades. Len Dawson signed with the Chiefs after spending five years between Pittsburgh and Cleveland; Dawson went on to finish his career with the Chiefs and become the winning-est quarterback in Chiefs history, also leading them to their only Superbowl victory in 1970.

Following Dawson, a few sad attempts at finding a replacement until 1988 when the Chiefs made a trade with TB Buccaneers for Steve DeBerg. DeBerg went on to spend four great years statistically with the Chiefs including 2 postseason appearances. DeBerg compiled 11,873 passing yards, 67 touchdowns and 50 interceptions with the Chiefs with a 81.8 passer rating.

In 1993, the Chiefs traded for Joe Montana and only completing two out of three years he agreed to in his contract still lead the Chiefs to many exciting games. He took the Chiefs to their only AFC championship appearance in 1993 and a few stunning duels with Denver Bronco's quarterback John Elway.

Following Montana, the Chiefs had a revolving door of quarterbacks: Steve Bono, Elvis Grbac and Rich Gannon before trading for Trent Green in 2001. Green like Cassel received a lot of flack from the media and fans, believing his time was gone with the injury in St. Louis and that he was washed up. But Green showed everyone he had fight left. Green had the most consecutive starts in Chiefs history, the only Chiefs QB to throw a "perfect game" and leading the Chiefs to their first postseason appearance in over six years.

With the departure of then head coach Dick Vermeil and incoming coach Herman Edwards the team decided to go with a career backup quarterback to take over their offense, Damon Huard, while grooming their "franchise" quarterback 2006 3rd round draft choice Brodie Croyle. Croyle, in no way shape or form will be the quarterback of the Chiefs franchise, he is too injury prone and soon rather than later his career will be cut short. In highschool, Croyle tore his ACL, at Alabama he separated his shoulder and crack two ribs (only sat out one game), then he tore his other ACL. Croyle's first season with any sort of chance, 2007, he not only played badly in the preseason to let Damon Huard start, but also hurt his back and later bruised his hand. Then in 2008, Croyle was named as the starter, but bruised his shoulder, then later in the season got hurt again. He started the 2009 opener, but since has never started a game under center.

Looking at possible reasons that Matt Cassels plays the way he does here in KC rather than he did in NE in 2008: the offensive line is a big part, Cassel clearly doesn't have long enough to get the ball out without having to take a hit or make an errant throw. Also look at his receiving corp here in KC compared to NE. Here his big time stars are Chris Chambers and Dwayne Bowe, an old man and a druggie. In NE he had Wes Welker, Randy Moss among others.

Matt Cassel has the inexpiable ability to become great, here in Kansas City he has the perfect chance to make sure that no one will forget his name. He can take a team that has been part of a laughing stock group and turn them around to greatness. It won't happen this year and probably not next year, but before Cassel's contract is up he will have made a major impact in Kansas City, he will have to work hard with dealing with Clark Hunt's pocketbook, not wanting to use the money to sign those big name stars, and the only thing that will hinder him is a)himself b)Todd Haley c)Scott Pioli.

Next up, San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco will be heading to Arrowhead this weekend, and with the way the Chiefs have been playing SF will have to work hard because those fans will be ready for them. The defense needs to keep up what they have been doing and contain Frank Gore. Eric Berry needs to step up and show he deserves that big payout and take on the vet Alex Smith, he is a simple man with lots of inexperience.

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