By Seth Herrold
“It’s deja vu all over again.” As the Missouri Tigers prepare to embark on their 2013 football campaign, I shared Yogi Berra’s sentiments from his famed quote.
When is the last time the Missouri Tigers entered a football season coming off a year in which they missed a bowl game? When is the last time Missouri came into a football season with a decision to make at quarterback between a senior who had been the starter over the past couple of years and a highly touted freshman billed as the future of the program. The answer to both questions is the same year and it wasn’t all that long ago.
Following the 2004 season, an abysmal one that saw the Tigers go 5-6 with losses to the likes of Kansas and Troy State, Missouri entered 2005 with Brad Smith returning at quarterback for his senior year. As it would be, 2005 was also the freshman season for a man who would break every passing record in school history, Chase Daniel.
Now here we are again. Missouri is coming off a bad season where there was no bowl game. Quarterback James Franklin is back as the senior as Smith was and Maty Mauk is in Columbia as well for his freshman season, like Daniel was. Gary Pinkel was on the hot seat entering 2005 and there have been some grumblings throughout the state that his seat is a little warm this year. So this is a great opportunity for the Tigers’ coach to learn from his past.
In 2005, Pinkel went with the senior, Smith, and it nearly cost him. On Oct. 15, 2005, Chase Daniel, the freshman, saved Gary Pinkel’s job on homecoming against Iowa State. Smith was 8-for-12 with an interception with nine minutes left in the game. The Tigers were down 24-14. It was then that Smith was knocked out of the game. Daniel led the Tigers down the field twice, once for a touchdown, once for a field goal and the Tigers forced overtime. Smith had been cleared to return to the game, but Pinkel stuck with Daniel. The decision paid off as Daniel led the Tigers back to a 27-24 overtime win.
To this day, that remains in my personal top three favorite Missouri football games I ever attended along with the 2007 win over Kansas at Arrowhead and the 2007 Cotton Bowl win over Arkansas. The impact of Daniel bringing the Tigers back wasn’t fully realized until the Tigers, with Smith as the starter, lost three of their last four games to go 6-5 on the season. Had Smith stayed in the Iowa State game, or even returned after Daniel’s first scoring drive, the Tigers would have lost, finished the season 5-6, missed a bowl game again and Gary Pinkel might not have been back for 2006.
I said before 2005 I wanted Daniel at quarterback and Smith at wideout. Smith was a great athlete and he has proven to be a valuable commodity in the NFL as a wideout. He would have been a great target for Daniel. Nothing against Smith, but Missouri would have really benefitted getting Daniel in the quarterback spot early. They would have made a bowl game and probably done so without the bad losses to New Mexico and Kansas.
Now Missouri needs to turn to Maty Mauk. If Pinkel learned anything from 2005, Mauk will be the starter when Missouri opens the season. Like Smith, Franklin is a good athlete and Missouri could work him into the offense somehow and he would still benefit the team. If Pinkel wants to win games and make it back to a bowl game, he really needs to turn to Mauk. It would benefit the Tigers this year, it would benefit Dorial Green-Beckham and the receiving corps, It would benefit the running game and it would benefit the Tigers in future seasons.
Mauk is a real talent. I hope Missouri doesn’t waste a year of his career letting him watch Franklin lose games from the sidelines. If Pinkel didn’t learn from 2005, he may be out of a job come December.
By Seth Herrold
Kansas City Royals fans born in the 80’s or later, like myself have never associated anything but losing with baseball. There has been hope, nearly every year, that this would be the season things turned around in a once proud baseball town. There was the 2003 season, the Royals’ only winning season since 1994, but even that year had to be considered a disappointment the way the Royals epically collapsed in the second half and blew a rather large lead in the standings. Now, however, it seems the Royals are finally ready to start winning again.
At 6-3 the Kansas City Royals are a game and a half ahead in the American League Central. Yes, it is still April, but as my brother said, you’re not my calander, don’t tell me what month it is. While there have already been bumps in the road, the Royals have persevered and play with an attitude I have never seen before in a Royals ball club. Remember I didn’t see those teams in the 70’s and 80’s.
I’m going to do something now, that I don’t normally do. I’m going to give Royals’ General Manager Dayton Moore some love. Moore came to town in 2006 and began working on the Royals farms system. He eventually got it ranked number one in all of baseball by multiple sources. Even though the Royals’ haven’t been competitive the past several years the team continued to take baby steps as waves of prospects finally began to hit shore.The Royals have not lost 100 games since 2006. That is six-straight years without 100 losses. In the six prior years, the Royals lost 100 games or more four times. Now I realize avoiding 100 losses isn’t a big deal, but like I said, baby steps. The Royals’ loss totals have decreased each of the past three seasons.
I fully believe the Royals would have continued to get better every year and eventually became contenders. But, when Moore traded away Wil Myers this last off-season, he sped up the process… a lot. A lot of people didn’t like the Myers trade. That’s mainly because in this day and age, prospects are viewed to be Hall-of-Famers until the get to the big leagues and prove otherwise. Moore’s work in the off-season changed the Royals’ rotation radically and if anyone has watched Royals baseball in the past two decades they know that is a good thing.
Moore’s move did more than just bring in a potential Cy Young candidate in James Shields, it brought the team a leader. Kansas City needed a leader. There are plenty of guys on the offense that can lead, but the Royals have had one of the better offenses in baseball in the past couple of years as far as batting average and scoring runs are concerned. But, the Royals’ pitching was hurting the team so bad that even though Kansas City had the fourth best batting average in all of baseball in 2011 and the seventh best mark in 2012 they still lost 90-plus games both years.
I’m not exactly dropping a bomb here, but Ervin Santana, Jeremy Guthrie, Wade Davis and Luis Mendoza aren’t great pitchers. They are serviceable arms and you could do a lot worse… just look at past Royals rotations. The Royals’ fifth starter this year is better than their opening day starter last year. With Shields’ leadership, however, this pitching staff is shining brightly. What Shields does every fifth day is great, but what he does as a leader every single day is what will make this year different from the past.
It is only April. I know this as well as anyone, but I also know this season is going to be better than last year and this time it’s not just going to be a baby step. With James Shields leading the way, the Royals are going to make a little noise this year. I can feel it.
By Seth Herrold
It has been pretty fun to be a Kansas City sports fan over the last month or so. Keep in mind neither the Kansas City Chiefs nor the Kansas City Royals have won an actual regular season game in that time frame, but it’s still been exciting over the last month if you are a fan of one or both of Kansas City’s major sports franchises.
For the first time in a long time the Royals actually have something to back up the spring training hope that comes every year. The Royals are rolling in the Cactus League in Arizona and as I type this story they are 14-2 in 16 games and have a tie with Texas from a charity game that opened the season. Alex Gordon is hitting .516, Mike Moustakas is hitting .455 and Billy Butler is batting .351. That is fun to follow.
Sure, spring training doesn’t count for anything, really, and it’s not the best gauge for seeing how a team will be in the upcoming season. The Los Angeles Angels – with a lineup that will house Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols, among others – are just 3-11 in spring training. But for all the work the Royals did in the off-season, this sizzling start can only be viewed in a positive light.
Across the parking lot, order has been restored at Arrowhead Stadium… at least on paper. But, like the Royals, what the Chiefs have done in the off-season can only be viewed positively. Fresh off what many called the worst season in the history of the organization, the Chiefs cleaned house: new coach, new general manager, new attitude. Some doubted the Andy Reid hire, but he wasted no time going to work. The Chiefs locked up long term arguably two of the best players on the team in Dwayne Bowe and Dustin Colquitt. The previous regime made doing that seem nearly impossible and alienated some key players in doing so.
Reid was far from done with those signings. He upgraded the quarterbacks from Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn to Alex Smith and Chase Daniel, a monumental replacement to what was far and away the weakest position on the field last year for Kansas City. He also signed some new targets for those quarterbacks to throw to and upgraded some key defensive positions. The Chiefs with the new players and returning talent suddenly look drastically better and this is all before the Chiefs get to select number one overall in the draft. An offensive lineman would be where I put my money and adding the best overall collegiate offensive lineman would shore up that unit quite a bit and help both the running game, which was pretty solid a year ago, and the new-look passing game.
Like the Royals, the Chiefs’ moves have done nothing as far as wins on the field, but you have to feel that same positive feeling about what they have done under Reid. I like the moves the Chiefs have made and I liked the moves the Royals made in their off-season. Apparently David Glass and the Hunt family finally got tired of being laughed at around their respective leagues. Both entities are spending more money than they have in the past and they are spending the money on better payers than they have in the past. Don’t believe me? There was a time when everyone thought it was a big deal that Glass was spending big bucks to bring in Gil Meche. Now he is spending big bucks on James Shields. There is a difference there.
Whether or not these teams succeed in actual meaningful games remains to be seen. I have high hopes that they both will do just that, though. If it’s this much fun when your teams are trying hard and appear destined for good things, just think how fun it will be when they are actually winning.
By Seth Herrold
It would appear the SEC is a little tougher on the basketball court than most Mizzou fans originally thought. That or the Tigers aren’t quite as good as we would like to think. After a loss on the road to the last-place team in the SEC on Wednesday, it would appear the Tigers are in trouble.
I will admit, back around Christmas when Florida was wrapping up a loss to what I thought to be a very mediocre Kansas State squad, I said there was no reason Mizzou shouldn’t win the SEC basketball title. I may have even said anything less would be a disappointment. Sure, I figured Missouri might lose a game here or there to a team playing over their head or on a night when the Tigers were just not hitting. That’s basketball, it happens. But sitting there a little over a month ago, I never dreamed Mizzou would be 4-3, looking like they wouldn’t be a threat to contend for the SEC title.
Watching the game on Wednesday, the Tigers’ struggles really reminded me a lot of the Los Angeles Lakers at the NBA level. I will admit I don’t watch the NBA. I have tried; it just doesn’t entertain me and I end up mad at the game rather than enjoying it. But you can’t watch five minutes of ESPN’s Sportscenter without hearing all the latest goings-on with the Lakers, a team of superstars that just can’t win. Mizzou has a ton of talent on the roster and they do a might bit better job of winning games than the Lakers do. But the struggles are similar. Both teams have one of the best guards at their respective levels. For the Lakers it’s Kobe Bryant and for the Tigers it’s Phil Pressey.
Watching Phil down the stretch, he was doing his darndest to win that game for Missouri. I like that; I like a guy who will take charge and say we are not going to lose this game if I have anything to say about it. Kobe does that a lot for the Lakers. The thing about Phil and Kobe is they try to do too much. You can pick a team up in other ways besides shooting the basketball. Phil took two ill-advised three-point shots down the stretch. Both were off-balance and neither went in. LSU grabbed the rebound both times. The second such attempt, really Missouri’s last good chance to tie the game, should have never been taken. Phil had a huge assist earlier when he drove the baseline and kicked the ball out for what ended up being an assist on the three-pointer. He should have been looking to do that rather than taking a poor shot on his own. He had an open teammate across the arc, too.
Phil is a great player, I don’t mind him shooting a lot of shots, but there are times when he needs to realize there are better shots to be had for his team and he is more than capable of setting up those better shots. He is an excellent passer and has proven that on a number of occasions.
The Lakers have turned the corner a bit here in the past week, save for last night’s loss in Phoenix, because Kobe has started passing more. He still takes his shots, but he averaged 13 assists a game over a three-game stretch this week. Pressey does a great job finding the open guy. I just think when the game gets on the line he is more concerned with being a hero than a leader and the team needs him as a leader, not a hero. There are some quality shooters on this team that can knock down three’s just as good as Pressey.
It’s still early in the conference season. If the Tigers can figure this out, maybe they can still make a run at the league title, or at least the conference tournament championship. Oh, and there is that big tournament at the end of the year as well.
By Seth Herrold
The Kansas City Royals have a history of bad moves. Let’s not forget they traded Jermaine Dye, the last Royal to start in an All-Star Game, for Neifi Perez, virtually straight up. They have made so many bad trades over the years and signed so many free agent busts that even when they make a move that is actually not a bad trade, like the deal that brought James Shields and Wade Davis in from Tampa Bay, fans ridicule it.
The thing about the trade that sent Wil Meyers to Tampa Bay for those strong pitchers is that it was what the Royals needed, it was aggressive and it embraced a win-now mentality. The problem is, this is still Kansas City and, on the heels of a big move like that, the Royals had to follow it up with something stupid. And they did, last week.
The Royals, who have focused on the pitching rotation this off-season (something that drastically needed addressed), re-signed Luke Hochevar to a one-year deal and agreed to pay him $4.56 million this season. They then touted this as a win using terms like “avoided arbitration” and “continued to work on the rotation” to describe it. Here is what I saw. The Royals paid nearly $5 million to bring the worst pitcher in all of baseball back for another year.
Luke Hochevar is not a major league-quality pitcher. He simply isn’t. Last year he led the American League in earned runs, yielding 118. He was also second in the American League with 16 losses. Those numbers are terrible. On the season he finished 8-16 with a 5.73 ERA. Numbers like those don’t command nearly $5 million a season. Here is another stat for you – WAR. It stands for wins above replacement and is basically a number that tells you how many wins a player adds to a team above what a replacement player would add ( think AAA). This year Hochevar had a WAR of -1.7. According to Baseballreference.com, a WAR of 8+ is MVP quality, 5+ is all-star level, 2+ is a starter, 0-2 is a reserve and less than zero is “replacement level.” That means at -1.7 Hochevar cost the Royals games by having him in the big leagues over the next best minor leaguer. He needs to be replaced.
It would be different if last season was just a bad year for Hochevar. But his ERA since the beginning of 2008 is 5.38 and that is the worst mark from 2008 to present of any pitcher in all of baseball who threw at least 700 innings over that span, according to FanGraphs. His career WAR, meanwhile is in the negatives (-0.3) and this is after five seasons in the big leagues. His career ERA is 5.39. A guy with numbers like those is drawing almost $5 million for the 2013 season? Only in KC, folks.
The Royals took Hochevar first overall in the 2006 draft over Tim Lincecum, Evan Longoria, Clayton Kershaw, Ian Kennedy, Drew Stubbs, Brandon Marrow and Max Scherzer. In seven years, five in the majors, the Royals have yet to give up on Hochevar despite atrocious numbers. It was time to give up on him, send him down the road. But the Royals voted, instead, to give him a pay raise. Hochevar doesn’t belong in Kansas City with all the new arms in town. Right now you are looking at a $5 million minor leaguer.
By Seth Herrold
Saturday will mark the 32nd annual showdown between Missouri and Illinois in what has become known as the “Braggin’ Rights Game.” With Kansas not on the schedule and Arkansas a year away from being deemed the Tigers’ cross-over rival in the SEC, the Illinois rivalry has suddenly become the top rivalry for the Missouri Tigers on the basketball court.
The shoving of this rivalry into the spotlight couldn’t have come at a better time. For the third year in a row, both teams enter the game nationally-ranked.
My memories of this rivalry aren’t the fondest. Most Missouri fans are probably like that, though, as the Tigers are just 11-20 in this series. My biggest memories of the series come from 2001-2003. Both teams were ranked in all three of those showdowns with the Tigers being the higher-ranked team. Despite the higher ranking, Missouri lost all three games in front of sellout crowds on national television. Those were the middle three years of the Quinn Snyder era, which was notorious for high rankings early in the season, and the Illinois game was seemingly always where things started to go south. With the exception of an elite eight finish in 2001-2002, Tiger fans try to forget those years. The three losses mentioned came in a stretch of nine-straight Illinois victories in the series, the longest stretch in the rivalry.
The Tigers hung in there, however. It would have been easy after the ninth-straight win by Illinois, where the Tigers trailed the series 20-8, to give up and call an end to the series. That’s what Illinois football did. After four-straight wins by Missouri in the “Arch Rivalry Game,” Illinois killed it by backing out of the series. I miss the season-opening “Arch Rivalry Game” and I’m sure Illinois fans would have missed the “Braggin’ Rights Game” if Missouri had killed it. But Mizzou didn’t back out; they didn’t give up.
The Tigers on Saturday will be looking for their third-straight win in the “Braggin’ Rights Game.” The Tigers haven’t been beating up on terrible Illinois teams either. The Fighting Illini have been ranked each of the past two years and are again entering this year’s showdown. The Tigers are an exciting team to watch this year, but this should be their best test to date. That’s the way it should be, too. That’s what makes this rivalry great. Illinois and Missouri traditionally have strong basketball programs and putting two strong programs against one another brings out the best in both teams. Four times this series has gone into overtime, including a triple overtime thriller in 1993 that the Tigers won, 108-107.
I’m not saying this year has triple overtime written all over it, but if you are a Missouri fan, or a fan of college basketball at all, I strongly recommend this game. It’s a great series and a great rivalry. Illinois is ranked 10th in the nation and 12-0 on the year. Missouri is ranked 12th and holds a 9-1 record. The game starts at 5 p.m. on Saturday and can be seen on ESPN 2.
By Seth Herrold
After two very lopsided victories by Trenton’s high school basketball teams in the opening round of the Gallatin Tournament, against very small schools, I have heard a lot of people asking why the Lady Bulldogs and Bulldogs are in that tournament.
I will admit, it seems a little ridiculous that the Trenton girls are winning their first-round game by 70 points. There are a large number of factors that have led to this point, however, and all are beyond Trenton’s control.
Back in the day, and by that I mean a couple of years ago, the Gallatin Tournament was the perfect way for a team like Trenton to open the season. You started off with a softball matchup with the small HDC schools in the tournament. Your team could get its feet wet and basically end up having a practice in a game-like situation. Then you faced a school of similar size and really got to measure yourself up against a decent opponent. These were the South Harrisons and Gallatins of the tournament. If you won that, then you got to see how you stacked up against a giant in the sport, Hamilton.
In recent years, both South Harrison and Hamilton have left the tournament. Trenton was always the biggest school in the tournament, but with South Harrison and Hamilton there it never felt like it. Now, with Braymer and Maysville replacing those schools, it’s almost glaring.
In addition to the changing landscape, Trenton’s teams have evolved. The basketball programs are on the up and way ahead of where they were just a few short years ago. There is a chance the two teams on the floor for Trenton are the best they have had in the past six or seven years.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the small HDC schools are getting smaller. Their teams are smaller, more freshmen have to play up and you just don’t see a small school team like Newtown had in the late 2000’s and Gilman City had in the early 2000’s. With Trenton getting better and the small schools getting smaller, you end up with 85-15 first-round basketball games.
Between the changing landscape of the tournament and the widening of the gap between the bigger and smaller schools in the tournament, it appears that Trenton is outgrowing the Gallatin Tournament. So why is Trenton still in the tournament? Well, there is my Dad’s philosophy that it’s because we are north Missourians and our favorite saying is “That’s how my dad and grandad did it and it worked for them.” My philosophy is a little different, though. I say Trenton needs to stay in this tournament until they are sweeping the first-place trophies like Hamilton did. Once you do that, then you can move on.
That brings up the issue of where do you go if not the Gallatin Tournament? The state limits the number of tournaments teams can enter, but just because you are allowed a certain number of tournaments, doesn’t mean you have to be in that many. Ideally, if Trenton were to leave the Gallatin Tournament, I would like to see them try to create their own tournament. The school hosts its own wrestling tournament every year and it is a booming success.
The schools I would like to see in this tournament would be something along the line of Hamilton, South Harrison, Carrollton, Brookfield, Marceline, Lawson, LeBlond and Trenton. That would make for a pretty good tournament and there isn’t a school in that bunch that would get beat 85-15. Obviously, some of those schools would probably find themselves having to drop a tournament elsewhere to join Trenton’s tournament. If they did, however, I have some back-up options: Cameron and Kirksville, if you want to go bigger, or Meadville and Tina-Avalon, which usually have traditionally strong teams, if you want to go smaller. Higginsville, Lexington and Maryville would be other options and heck, I would maybe even invite that school just south of Trenton on Highway 65. Basically, any combination of KCI, MRVC-East and smaller MEC teams.
At the end of the day, though, I still feel like Trenton has to sweep the Gallatin Tournament titles before it makes an exit from that tournament. Trenton has a pair of teams that look pretty strong this year, though; maybe a sweep is coming sooner rather than later.
By Seth Herrold
Most people who know me would say I am too young to be saying ‘those were the days.’ Yesterday at Thanksgiving with the family, however, I found myself uttering those exact words. No I wasn’t reminiscing about the days when gas prices were lower or when times were simpler; I was reminiscing about when the Missouri Tigers football team was winning… a lot. I was reminiscing about the Chase Daniel days to be specific.
Back when Daniel was the quarterback of this less-than-storied program, the Tigers were constantly ranked and battling for conference titles every year. A bowl game was a given and anything less than the Alamo Bowl was a disappointment. Oh yeah, and the Tigers never, ever lost a non-conference football game. They played some schools from big conferences too, like the SEC’s Ole Miss and the Big Ten’s Illinois. Not great teams, but not pushovers by any means.
Times change in college football and they have changed a lot for Missouri since Daniel and his class graduated. Before Daniel came to Columbia, Missouri was a basketball school. Norm Stewart built the hoops program and Quin Snyder, in his early years, had the Tigers constantly ranked and took them to an elite eight appearance. Then, whether it was by Quin’s failure or Daniel’s success, or a combination of both, things shifted at Missouri. Mizzou was a football school.
Those fleeting years were fun for me and my friends. We attended 31-of-41 games between Daniel’s sophomore and senior seasons. We traveled to El Paso, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Kansas City, Ames, Manhattan (Kansas), Lincoln, St. Louis and of course Columbia. Where the Tigers went, we went. Those were indeed the days.
Now, the Tigers have steadily gotten worse on the gridiron and Mike Anderson and then Frank Haith have brought the basketball program back to the national stage. The pendulum is swinging again. The Tigers’ football team has nearly come full circle and is in danger of missing out on a bowl game for the first time since 2004. It’s hard to justify a long road trip to follow a team of this caliber. When Daniel was the quarterback, I would follow the team to the ends of the earth and paid some outrageous ticket prices along the way. With Franklin and company, I would just as soon watch the majority of the games from the couch in my living room.
The Tigers are falling back into the era when a close loss to a good team was considered a win. In 1997 Missouri lost to Nebraska in overtime when a kicked ball allowed the Huskers to score the game-tying touchdown. Mizzou fans were walking tall that week and Nebraska ended up winning the national championship that year. There was obvious disappointment, but saying you took the national champs to overtime was as good as saying we won for Tiger fans. This year I listened to the Mizzou-Florida game on the radio while working with my Dad, a life-long Husker fan. When the game ended and Missouri nearly pulled off the road upset Dad, who never misses an opportunity for a good barb, said “Well you’re a Missouri fan so that is basically like a win for you.” The sad part was he was right. It was a close loss to a highly ranked team on the road.
Here is the difference, though. Missouri lost a close game to Oklahoma on the road in 2007 when Daniel was quarterbacking and that didn’t feel like a win like this year’s Florida loss did. Like I said, times change.
If there is a saving grace to the football team’s failure, however, it is that the basketball team is bringing plenty of excitement to Columbia. I’m okay with being a basketball school I just don’t want to become a Kentucky or Kansas where we compete for titles every year on the basketball court, but lose every game we play on the football field. I love to see success in any sport for Missouri, but football will always be my first love and I will alway cherish ‘those days’ when Daniel led the Tigers.
By Seth Herrold
It’s no secret the Chiefs are a terrible NFL team this year. Terrible doesn’t even quite represent how bad this team really is. I have watched the Chiefs for many, many years and this is as bad as I ever remember them. The team needs overhauled from the ownership down through the front office and onto the field. There are literally no bright spots for Chiefs’ fans.
The season started off with so much hope because the key players who helped the team win the AFC West Division title in 2010 but who were injured in 2011, were all back. When Sports Illustrated picked the Chiefs to win the AFC West this year, hopes only grew.
Now, half way through the season, it’s quite obvious the Chiefs are not going to win the division. They aren’t even going to get close like they did somehow last season, missing the playoffs by a field goal. The only positive that will come out of this season is a good draft pick.
The biggest problem with the Chiefs is a good draft pick isn’t going to do this team any good. There are too many things that need to be addressed to be fixed with one draft pick. At the top of the list for many fans is the quarterback. I am a fan of Matt Cassel. I like the guy, I really do. He is a warrior who keeps picking himself up off the ground despite getting knocked down time and time again. He battles, never gives up and, when he lost the starting position to Brady Quinn, he took it in stride, doing everything he could to help get Quinn ready to start. Matt Cassel is the definition of a team player.
All that said, Matt Cassel is not a great player. Sure, he isn’t given much to work with, but the guy just lacks that killer instinct, the ability to feel a rush coming from behind him, the pin-point accuracy. He is a serviceable NFL quarterback, but not one who is going to take this team to the next level. It took me a long time to accept this because I kept thinking of the Matt Cassel from 2010. The one that made the Pro Bowl and, if it hadn’t been for freakish seasons by Michael Vick and Tom Brady that season, would have had his name mentioned in the MVP discussion.
Cassel was great that year, leading the team to 10 wins and a divisional title. Cassel also led the Patriots to a 10-win season and the playoffs before coming to Kansas City. In both those seasons, however, Cassel wasn’t needed to make plays to win games for his respective teams. He was simply asked to avoid making mistakes, which he did. When Cassel is asked to step up and make plays, however, well… just look at the past two seasons. He can avoid making mistakes and win a lot of games when he has a good offensive line and a good ground game to lean on. This year, the Chiefs have a terrible offensive line and the ground game has way under-achieved. The end result is Cassel is asked to make plays and he simply can’t. It doesn’t help having an offensive line this bad in front of him, but Cassel didn’t lose the starting spot to Quinn just because the offensive line is bad.
So, do the Chiefs need a better quarterback? Yes, there is no question. But, do I want to see the Chiefs and Matt Cassel part ways? No. Like I said, I like Cassel and he is a team player that would really help a young quarterback along, especially if the Chiefs use this good draft pick on one. A quarterback doesn’t come close to fixing all the Chiefs’ problems, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.