Matt Cassel has had an interesting run in Kansas City. The Chiefs traded for him about 22 months ago and the first 20 months were rough going. Cassel wasn't playing like the franchise quarterback he had been deemed to be, the Chiefs weren't winning and there was general frustration around the quarterback.
Fans had plenty of complains about Cassel and, for the most part, they were justified. Cassel wasn't playing well, wasn't putting up the statistics necessary for the Chiefs to win and, as a lot of folks know, the quarterback is usually the first to receive the blame when losing starts.
And then, a few games into the 2010, we began to change the way we thought about Cassel. His completion percentage was going, his touchdowns continued to increase and his interceptions didn't and the Chiefs were winning.
Apparently there's a similar situation going on in Baltimore. Ravens QB Joe Flacco has 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the year -- very solid numbers -- yet there were some fans who, as the Ravens passing game didn't put up gaudy stats in the last month, weren't very happy with their quarterback.
Here's what Derrick Mason said when asked about Flacco:
"I don't think the fans understand how long it takes for a true, really good quarterback to mature in this league," Mason said. "And Joe's ahead of the curve. You hear, 'Joe, he doesn't do this, he doesn't do that.' Let's talk about all the things he does well. Each year his touchdown and interception ratio has gotten ... better. His completion ratio is better. Touchdown passes are up. Quarterback rating is up. So, honestly, the guy is doing something right.
"I don't think people are looking at that. They're trying to compare him to a Brees, or a Manning, or a Brady. And that's unfair. Compare him to the guys he came up with. And he's right there with them."
Sounds familiar, doesn't it? As fans complained aout Cassel throughout the first year and a half, his teammates always said he was doing something right. The results weren't there, so we had trouble believing them, but eventually they came, the Chiefs started winning and Cassel's stats were among the league's best.
The two situations are similar because the Ravens continued to win and Flacco was still receiving flak for his performance. Likewise, the Chiefs were winning -- they never lost control of the AFC West -- and yet Cassel was still receiving some criticism.
By now, many of the criticisms have quieted on both sides as each leads their team into the playoffs. It's an interesting transition watching someone grow into a franchise quarterback. Maybe both players aren't there yet but this season, at least statistically, would indicate both fan bases were wrong on their quarterback.