According to a recent study by Pro Football Focus entitled Go Deep, the Kansas City Chiefs were able to do everything offensively but throw the long ball last season with Matt Cassel at quarterback. Perhaps that's part of the reason that Chiefs went with Pittsburgh wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin with their first round choice in the 2011 NFL Draft -- a move to draft a strong vertical threat at wideout.
The study mostly tells fans what they already know, placing names like Peyton Manning, Phil Rivers, Joe Flacco and Aaron Rodgers at the top of various rankings. Specifically when it comes Cassel, it reads:
Of all quarterbacks who attempted 30 or more deep passes (and there were 31 quarterbacks who did so), Manning and Flacco finished in the bottom ten in completion percentage. Still it could be worse for both of them. They could be Matt Cassel. The limited Chief struggled big time on his deep balls, completing just 14 of 57 for the worst percentage in the league. That beat out players like Alex Smith (25%), Chad Henne (25%) and Jay Cutler (26.56%).
But it's the missing receiver component that doesn't tell Cassel's story correctly. Last year, the front office tried to throw anything opposite the field from Dwayne Bowe. Whether it was relying on last year's surprising veteran Chris Chambers to come through for another year or hoping for a last-second prayer from Kevin Curtis, there were simply no answers to be found for the Chiefs.
Baldwin should change all of that with his blend of size, agility and strength, as he's able to stretch the secondary and relieve pressure from the box on Cassel. If all goes according to plan, Cassel will have a bit more time to get set while Baldwin will change the completion percentage downfield with his ability to reach.
In the end, stats like this read worse than what reality plays out. Cassel isn't a lone gunman, but was instead part of a limited system in 2010. Baldwin changes that and the Chiefs should shore up those numbers in 2011. Then again, it doesn't really matter considering the offensive philosophy majors on running the football anyway.