Chiefs seem to be regressing, not progressing

Matt Cassel will be right back under center when the reeling

Kansas City Chiefs host Buffalo on Sunday. But what effect will

getting benched during a blowout loss to Denver have on the young


A positive one, coach Todd Haley insists. Haley also said Monday

he’s not worried that the leadership he counts on Cassel to provide

will be affected by teammates seeing him jerked out of the game and

replaced by backup Brodie Coyle.

“No, not in my opinion,” Haley said. “Others may have

different opinions, but not in my opinion. I think that’s a head

coach’s decision to make, of where the game’s at and circumstances

surrounding it. Yesterday at that time I thought the best thing for

us as a team was to put Brodie in the game and let him play a

little bit.”

Near the end of a disastrous third quarter of a 44-13 loss to

the Broncos, Haley replaced Cassel with Croyle and Cassel spent the

rest of the game on the sideline.

Cassel, who signed a lucrative contract last summer that

guarantees him about $28 million, had been struggling along with

everyone else on the offense. He was 10 for 29 for 84 yards, with

two interceptions and two sacks and a horrendous quarterback rating

of 14.6.

Croyle, who was the starter last year under Herm Edwards until

he was shelved for the season by a knee injury, did not fare much

better, hitting six of 14 for 134 yards as the Chiefs (3-9)

suffered their second lopsided loss in a row.

It was also Cassel’s second straight poor performance. In his

defense, several of his receivers dropped passes. But he also made

some poor throws.

Nevertheless, Haley seemed to signal that Cassel is back in good


“I thought Matt did some really good things that should have

had us in a better position than we were in,” said Haley. “I

thought that’s how he had played in the first half. He avoided a

couple of sacks and made positive plays out of it, and again made

some throws that probably should have been big gains for us.

“In the third quarter … our team as a whole unraveled more

offensively. And Matt’s his own worst critic. He’s disappointed

with a couple of plays he made in that stretch, as are the other

guys on the offense.”

Haley believes getting benched during the game might actually be

good for Cassel.

“In my opinion, the experience he had to go through in coming

out of the game and watching his backup play is more important than

actually being in there for that last quarter.”

Without any reliable receivers and working behind an offensive

line that’s never been consistent, Cassel has had a rough first

year with the Chiefs. He’s 188 for 349 with 13 touchdowns and nine

interceptions. He’s also been sacked 37 times for 212 yards in


Haley said he’d given no thought to letting Croyle start against

the Bills while Cassel takes a while to collect his thoughts and


“I’m going to play the guys who give us the best chance to win

and Matt is one of those guys right now,” he said.

The 37 sacks do not count the number of times Cassel’s been hit

after unloading the ball. But game after game, he’s jumped right

back up.

“A the head coach and (offensive) coordinator, I think the

kid’s a tough, tough guy,” Haley said. “Generally, when you’re

tough you can handle adversity. That’s the quarterback’s job is to

stand adversity in the face and overcome. Matt is back at it today

already. We’ve reviewed this tape, made our corrections. He’s on to

Buffalo and figuring out the best way for us to beat the Buffalo