Brady Quinn will take over as the Kansas City Chiefs’ starting quarterback and Matt Cassel will serve as the backup beginning with Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders.
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Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel made the announcement before Monday’s practice, shortly after meeting with the team that is off to a miserable 1-5 start. Both quarterbacks were informed of the change earlier in the day.
”I think that will get everyone’s attention,” Crennel said, ”and hopefully that impacts the team, because the quarterback position is the one that has the spotlight on him.”
Quinn started for the first time since 2009 in the Chiefs’ loss at Tampa Bay two weeks ago because Cassel was still feeling the effects of a concussion sustained the previous week against Baltimore. Kansas City had last week off.
Quinn didn’t perform well against the Buccaneers, going 22 of 38 for 180 yards with two interceptions with a touchdown in a 38-10 loss. But the former first-round draft pick did show the kind of poise and arm strength that Cassel has been lacking all season.
”He was a little rusty,” Crennel acknowledged, ”but with playing time, practice time, I expect him to be better and lead this team.”
Crennel said after Cassel was hurt that he didn’t anticipate making a long-term change at the position. But the coach said extra evaluation time over the bye week gave him a better perspective on what could get the team going.
”When you think about changing the dynamic, what position can change the dynamic the most?” Crennel said. ”That’s the quarterback position. So I decided that was the move I wanted to make, to try to change this team and impact this team.”
Cassel, who missed the end of last season with a hand injury, hasn’t been nearly as good as he was two years ago, when he led the Chiefs to the AFC West title and was voted to the Pro Bowl.
He was completing just 58.5 percent of his passes for 230 yards per game, and had thrown nine interceptions against five touchdown passes. He’d also lost five fumbles, and his 14 turnovers in total are more than all but five teams in the league.
”I’m not saying Matt Cassel is the reason we are where we are,” Crennel said. ”We need to coach better and we need to play better, and if we do those things, we can be better, but my biggest deal was my gut was telling me we need to impact that team by changing that dynamic.”
Crennel said he doesn’t want Quinn to be looking over his shoulder, so ”there will be no quick hook or anything like that.” After playing the Raiders on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City hits the road for games against San Diego and Pittsburgh.
”I don’t think the team has lost confidence in Matt,” Crennel said. ”It’s just one of those things where the circumstances we’re in, you have to decide what you want to do to change it, and I decided to change the quarterback.”
The acquisition of Cassel in a trade with New England was the first major move that Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli made after taking the job in Kansas City. His second major move was to sign Cassel to a $63 million, six-year deal that still has two years remaining on it.
Quinn is playing on a one-year deal worth $1.5 million.
”There are a lot of issues, and that position is one of them,” Pioli told The Associated Press during an interview last week.
Crennel said he wasn’t considering long-term ramifications when making his decision, such as whether the franchise will trade for another quarterback or select one early in the draft.
Crennel’s focus was giving the Chiefs a much-needed boost immediately.
”The only future I thought about was this coming Sunday,” he said.