If you didn’t catch the Ravens vs Chiefs game yesterday, chances are you’re hearing more about “The Cheers Heard Round the World” than what actually went down in the game. Early in the fourth quarter, with KC facing 2nd and 10, Cassel hit Charles with a short pass and was immediately hit by 340 pound NT Haloti Ngata and LB Paul Kruger. The result of the hit was a head injury and Cassel laid still on the field for about five minutes before getting up and walking off. The scandal, which was unfortunately blown a little out of proportion by RT Eric Winston after the game (click on the link if you haven’t heard his comments yet) was that there were Chiefs fan’s cheering Cassel being injured.
This of course makes the fans of Kansas City look terrible, because you don’t get much lower as a human being than cheering a man that is lying motionless on the ground with a potentially life-threatening or career-ending injury. But lets make sure that everybody understands this: Yes, there were undoubtedly some drunk, classless fans cheering Cassel’s injury. However, I truly believe the majority were cheering the fact that Brady Quinn was entering the game. Thats exactly how I felt when I saw Brady entering the game. Anybody that knows me knows that I’ve been a Cassel supporter, defending him for some of the turnovers that have plagued him this year and reminding his detractors about his 27-7 TD to INT ration from 2010 that earned him a Pro Bowl nod (yes, he was Brady’s replacement, but he was still there). I don’t think that there’s anybody on the Chiefs team who works as hard as Cassel and wants to win as bad as Cassel or is as good a leader as Cassel. Yes, he’s a fine human being and somebody you would want your daughter to date. The problem is, is that he just isn’t talented enough to be a true NFL starting QB. You want proof?
Remember last year when Tim Tebow was starting in Denver and John Fox basically showed the entire world that he had no faith in Tebows throwing arm? What did they do? Ran the ball over, and over, and over again. Crennel basically borrowed a page from Fox’s playbook and did the exact same thing with Cassel yesterday. Kansas City ran the ball on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd down, didn’t matter what the distance was. It really showed how little faith the coaches had in Cassel’s ability. It worked wonders in the first half, as Charles rushed for more than 100 yards (the first RB to rush for more than 100 in the 1st half against the Ravens since 1999!). However, at half time the Ravens made adjustments, and the Chiefs did not. They held Charles to 13 yards rushing in the second half, and still, the coaches did not allow Cassel to throw the ball. He ended up throwing 15 times completing 9 for 92 yards. That doesn’t sound too bad until you figure in the two interceptions and two fumbles that Cassel was ultimately held responsible for.
Again, the turnovers when you really look at them were not all entirely Matt’s fault. There was a pitch out to rookie RB Cyrus Gray that he couldn’t hold on to that the Raven’s recovered. There was a pass to Dwayne Bowe that bounced off his hands that the Ravens caught. But the killer turnover was a fumbled Center to QB exchange on the 1-yard line that the Ravens recovered. It looked like the Chiefs were rushing to snap the ball and Cassel and Lilja were not on the same page, and the snap came late. Thats the one that really killed us, and that’s the one I ultimately hold him responsible for.
Now, getting back to the cheers that happened when he was injured. Eric Winston is correct in saying that it is a sickening and classless thing to do “if you were one of those fans cheering” when Cassel got hurt. But what he said at the beginning of his rant was that he heard 70,000 people cheering when he got hurt. Nevermind the fact that there couldn’t have been more than 55,000 people in the stadium, thats irrelevant. What really ticks me off as a lifelong fan of the Chiefs was getting lumped into the minority of drunk jerks that cheered, and then of course it getting blown up by all the major media outlets. I appreciate Winston’s passion for his teammates, and his anger at those in the stands who acted as degenerates. I just wish he would have chosen his words a little more carefully. Winston later tweeted that “Obviously I know that not all 70k were cheering”. But by then the damage had been done. Arrowhead stadium is now labeled by some as a “mullet-filled Arkham”.
I really don’t want to sit here and give a bunch of possible reasons of why those cheers rang out when they did, or whether or not Kansas City has a classless fan base. I really hope Cassel is ok and recovers from his injury and hopefully, he won’t hold a grudge against the fans that did boo him. And I also really hope that the fans that did boo him realize that that is not ok and that they made an entire city’s fan base look terrible in front of the rest of the country. But try and understand that the fans of the Kansas City Chiefs are frustrated, they are unhappy, and they are hungry for a winner. It would have been much preferable if Cassel had been benched at half time, the reigns handed to Quinn, if just for the remainder of the game, than for Cassel to have gotten hurt. But a change was needed, and it just happened to come at the expense of an injury. Is Quinn going to be the savior thats needed and get the Chiefs to the playoffs? Probably not, and just for the record I’ve stated to the people I’ve talked to that Cassel was probably our best chance at winning. However, Quinn did look crisp in the short time he was in, and his passes had noticeably more zip to them than Cassel’s did. He will probably earn his first start as a Chief next weekend at Tampa Bay as the Chiefs should be in no rush whatsoever to bring Matt back before he is ready.
To those who contributed to the plane that flew the banner that said “BENCH CASSEL”, you got your wish, he will probably not start next week. Just remember, be careful what you wish for…