Monday, September 26, 2011

With Cassel, Haley is wasting our time

"I'm excited about our team."

Had this been the third preseason game, those words, spoken by Chiefs' head coach Todd Haley after the team's 20-17 loss in San Diego, may have felt slightly more fitting.

Instead, the Chiefs are 0-3 in the regular season, and proved nothing more Sunday than the disturbing fact that the team can't depend on its starting quarterback when they need him most.

You have to hand it to Haley. Authentic or not, the enthusiasm he's shown in the face of adversity this season thus far is unprecedented for the third-year coach.

Because, exactly what is there to be excited about?

The team's two most electric and fun-to-watch players on each side of the football, Eric Berry and Jamaal Charles, are out for the year.

The offensive-line, considered a surprising strength last season, looks worse now than it was when Haley and general manager Scott Pioli took over.

Most alarming, though, is the play of Matt Cassel. All of the Chiefs' issues this season — from the injuries to the lack of preparedness to start the season — could have been disguised had Cassel re-established his 2010-pre-Charlie-Weis-departure form in 2011.

Instead, Cassel has regressed substantially. He shows zero composure in the pocket, rarely looks downfield, and almost choreographs his throws pre-snap.

Worse, his supposed second option, newcomer Steve Breaston, hadn't seen the ball come his way virtually all season until a minor injury to Dwayne Bowe Sunday forced Cassel to look his way. This implies Cassel is either unable to make progressions against NFL defenses or the offensive-line is unable to effectively protect an NFL quarterback.

Or both.

Haley admitted to simplifying the offense for Cassel in San Diego. The result was nothing new for Chiefs fans hoping for just that; the offense failed to gain a first down in the first half.

And with the game on the line, Cassel threw the ball and the game away to a Chargers team desperately looking for a way to lose.

For a quarterback whose biggest weakness is his arm-strength, throwing game-losing interceptions in the backfield has to serve as a sign of things to come for the head coach.

The truth is, with the season seemingly over and Haley's job on the line, a knee-jerk reaction to Sunday's loss might not be a bad idea.

Injuries aside, good NFL quarterbacks have the ability to pick their team up when times are tough. Cassel (who has less passing yards on the season than Tom Brady's per-game average) is anything but that.

The sooner Haley realizes this, the better.

Maybe the coach is "excited" about his team's chances to snag the golden-ticket in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.

Because with Cassel, Haley is wasting our time.

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