When Charlie Weis decided to leave the Kansas City Chiefs and go to the University of Florida the biggest question mark for Chiefs fans was whether or not this would hinder Matt Cassel's development. Cassel progressed last season under Weis and paired with our running game there were times that we looked very dangerous on offense. Although Cassel did make the Pro-Bowl last season, he had a dismal showing in the playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens and had Chiefs fans wondering whether or not he could continue to improve under new guidance in 2011.
When the Chiefs hired Jim Zorn as their new Quarterbacks coach back in February it seemed to be a great fit and a good move by the Chiefs. They needed someone to step into that role to help with Cassel's development and there was still some uncertainty about how the offense was going to look with Bill Muir taking over as the Offensive Coordinator. Muir wasn't going to be the guy that worked with Cassel individually each day as he would be spending his time with the offensive line. Cassel now has an experienced guy in Zorn to fill that role.
Not everyone was happy when Jim Zorn was hired by the Chiefs. Joe Flacco, the Baltimore Ravens starting Quarterback wasn't happy with his team's decision to let Zorn go after last season. Flacco is not considered to be an outspoken guy so when he flat-out told the media that he disagreed with the decision of his general manager to let Zorn leave, it made everyone take notice. That should be comforting to Chiefs fans to know that Flacco obviously felt that his career would be in better hands if he was to continue to work with Zorn on a daily basis.
But it's Cassel that is going to get to work with Zorn on a daily basis this season and that should pay huge dividends with the weapons that this team now has at its disposal. The Chiefs could conceivably return every starter on offense with the one addition being rookie Wide Receiver Jon Baldwin, who should be starting opposite of Dwayne Bowe when the season (hopefully) begins in September. Not to mention the expertise that our rookie Quarterback, Ricky Stanzi will receive as he most likely steps in as the backup to Cassel when he first walks through the doors at 1 Arrowhead Drive.
Baldwin's main asset to our offense is going to be the mismatches that he is going to create for everyone out there. When Baldwin is on one side and Dwayne Bowe on the other, Tony Moeaki in as Tight End, Dexter McCluster in the slot, and Jamaal Charles in the backfield, teams will have to decide what they are going to try and take away on any given play. Defenses will no longer be able to just roll the coverage to Bowe's side of the field and stack the box because they will be leaving a cornerback on his own against a 6'5 WR, or an open box for the number 1 ranked rushing team in the NFL. How does Jim Zorn fit in all of this? It's pretty simple.
With all of the weapons that Cassel now has on offense the job on the field has become much easier, but the job off of the field has become much easier as well. When we're talking about all of the different mismatches that are going to present themselves it's important that Cassel can read these defenses and understand how to create and recognize the mismatches as they occur. Whether it's McCluster in the flat, Moeaki across the middle, a Charles run up the middle, or a deep fly route to Baldwin. There are going to be mismatches all over the field and Zorn's experience and availability to Cassel each and every day will help him learn to see these things so he can consistently get the ball to the right guy at the right time.
Jim Zorn has over 15 years of experience coaching in the NFL, and 10 of those have been spent as a QB's coach specifically (Detriot '98-'00, Seattle '01-'07, Baltimore '10). Taking that experience he will be able to break down film with Cassel every day and devote all of his time to him individually. Cassel was much better in 2010 than he was in 2009 and Charlie Weis deserves a lot of credit. But even when Weis was here running the offense he had to split up his time as he oversaw the entire offense. He couldn't give all of his time just to Cassel. Zorn's only responsibility is to the quarterbacks and to Cassel specifically and that should prove to be a huge step in the maturation of the Chiefs Quarterback.
Cassel doesn't have to make the spectacular throw down the field every game for the Chiefs to be successful and win games. Would it help? Yes, and it could very well happen but most importantly he needs to continue to make good decisions with the ball and make the smart play in the right situation. He did that very well last year and that has now become a little easier with the addition of Baldwin and with the tutelage of Zorn. When Cassel goes out there next season and facilitates our offense to new heights, remember that there is a new guy behind the scenes that deserves some praise for the job he has done.