It's every NFL team's goal in building their championship football team to find that elusive "franchise" quarterback to take you to the promise land. Everybody wants one yet few have what would be considered an elite-level quarterback.
It would seem as if the definition of the term "elite" or "franchise" has been lost in translation from one person to the next. If only for this article it would be stated that in my opinion the definition would be something along the lines of "a guy who can carry a team to victory on his own, without the need for a strong running game or strong defense".
Even this particular definition has holes because I would consider Eli Manning an 'elite' quarterback right now, and even he obviously had the help of a dominant defense to win his second championship.
So whatever your definition is for this kind of quarterback I'm not sure that Matt Cassel falls into this category. I'm not convinced that Cassel can win games consistently without a strong running game or strong defense. The good news is that he doesn't have to even try because the Chiefs will have a very strong running game and a great defense next season. But there will be times during the season that teams will have figured out how to stop the Chiefs' running game, even if it's only temporary, and the defense will have allowed some points.
It's at that time that Cassel will have to take this team on his back and lead them to victory. I have faith that Cassel can do that against lesser competition, but I'm not convinced right now he could do that against any team that we need him to do that against in order to get where we want to be in the post-season. It's beating a team like the New England Patriots or Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs on the big stage that will show people if Cassel is the guy some believe he is, and many believe he is not.
The real problem with the quarterback situation in Kansas City is that Matt Cassel is too good of a quarterback to help the Chiefs to ever be in position to draft a guy that fans, as a whole, would buy into the fact that he could be the player of the future at that position. By help, I mean play bad enough so that the Chiefs are drafting high enough to grab one of these guys each year that go in the top 10.
The Chiefs made an attempt at bringing in Peyton Manning and for whatever reason that didn't happen. When that didn't work out they were put in a position that asked them the question of, "If Cassel's our guy, what can we do to make sure he has every opportunity to succeed?" The answers were Peyton Hillis, Kevin Boss and Eric Winston. Who knows, we'll wait till after the draft and see if they add even more pieces to the offense.
There was a great piece that was done by @TheFilmRoom on Cassel and what he needs to succeed with these new weapons. It was a case for Matt Cassel. There were some great points in this article describing how these new pieces around Cassel will put him in the best position to be successful for this team.
It's not about asking Cassel to do something he hasn't shown he has the ability to do. It's about taking what we know he can do and finding ways to maximize those skills and develop an offense that doesn't rely on him needed to develop a new part of his game. It'd be nice if that happened, but it's a bigger gamble to expect a new ability than it is to find other guys that when put around Cassel taking in their own skill sets, find ways to be successful for the offense as a whole.
Matt Cassel is the best option at quarterback for this team to win games next season that is feasible right now. That is unless you're a gambler, which our front office is not. Trading up for a guy or even taking a quarterback at No. 11 is a gamble any way you look at it. You're gambling not only that the new rookie quarterback would help this team be better as a whole than Cassel would playing the same position, but you're gambling that he'd be better for this team than Cassel AND another player at No. 11.
For example, if Ryan Tannehill was available at No. 11 for the Chiefs and you wanted to take him because you think he'd be better for this team than Cassel. Would you still think the overall team would be better if it was just Tannehill that was added, or keeping Cassel AND adding DeCastro? It's not apples to apples because you're taking away another draft pick by gambling on an unknown, even if it's a talented unknown.
There are plenty of people out there that have given up on Matt Cassel and some have gone as far to say that he shouldn't even be a starting quarterback in the NFL. If that's true, then the Chiefs shouldn't have to worry about getting their quarterback of the future in next years' draft because Cassel is so bad that we'll be picking in the top 10 for sure, right? Wrong.
He is good enough to win some games for this team and while he hasn't proven yet that he can take this team deep into the playoffs. The team made moves around him this off-season to try to make that more possible. Many people want to individualize the quarterback position, and Cassel specifically, when talking about replacements and options out there that would make the team better as a whole. But I don't think the front-office is necessarily individualizing the position as much as we might think. It's always about the offense as a whole and how can we make it better.
They explored the Peyton Manning thing and then the Dallas Cowboys felt like paying a back-up almost $6 million a year in Kyle Orton. There went two options to try and create some real competition at the position or even upgrade that specific position. At that point they stepped back and said, "How can we make this offense better?" They did that with the moves they made and while Cassel may not be Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady, this offense has still gotten a lot better this off-season even with Cassel under center next year.
So for all of those people who don't think Cassel is good enough to win for the Chiefs ask yourself this, "Is he so bad that we'll be picking in the top 5, top 10, even top 15 next year now that we've got Eric Berry, Tony Moeaki and Jamaal Charles back from injury?" Not to mention the other free agent pickups. If not, you're admitting that he's good enough to win some games with a good team around him.
So he's too good, and that's the problem? It really comes down to that when you break down the argument. He's just good enough to get us close to where we want to be, but not all the way. So the best thing they could have done is add pieces around him and give him every chance to be successful, and they did that.