Cassel Doesn't Need Moss

There are certain individuals who would have you believe Matt Cassel is a rich man today because he played with Randy Moss last season. The truth is that Cassel has earned a contract worth $63 million based on his own merits, and not because he rode anyone's coattails.

While there is certainly fact in the statement that Moss is an elite receiver and has made life easier for a long list of quarterbacks in the past, it is ignorant to say he should be credited as the driving force behind Cassel's recent success. In fact, it should anger Chiefs fans who have put any faith whatsoever in Cassel or General Manager Scott Pioli.

Any responsible evaluation of Cassel's 2008 season would bear out the fact that the quarterback has qualities which clearly enabled him to succeed regardless of who he was throwing to. In every game last season, Cassel demonstrated key traits that are found in almost every franchise quarterback – mobility, accuracy, intelligence and the ability to read defenses.

But despite these qualities - which quite frankly should be obvious to anyone who paid any lengthy attention to the 2008 New England Patriots - Cassel has suddenly been lumped in with players like Jeff George and Kerry Collins.

When did George, a hothead with a reputation as a statue in the pocket, ever display intelligence or mobility during his disappointing NFL career? Indeed, veteran Chiefs fans should be all too familiar with George's inability to escape the rush, having witnessed the torture Derrick Thomas inflicted upon him repeatedly throughout his NFL career.

When did Collins, a career 55 percent passer with a reputation for turnovers, ever display accuracy or the ability to read defenses at any level approaching the upper echelon? In fact it should be noted that even when he did have the luxury of playing with Moss in 2005, Collins completed only 53.5 percent of his passes, one of the lowest percentages of his career and the 30th ranked mark among starting NFL quarterbacks that season.

Does it really seem fair to compare Cassel to either player? Hardly.

As for Pioli, the notion that the quarterback he orchestrated a trade for might somehow suffer without Moss is truly insulting. It implies that the Chiefs' GM has not done his homework on Cassel, or that somehow he was deceived of his quarterback's true abilities, that Moss somehow "pulled the wool over his eyes," so to speak.

This becomes even more ridiculous when you realize that Pioli shared responsibility in drafting Cassel during 2005 with the Patriots. And for four years, Pioli was in close proximity to Cassel every week, if not almost every day, during his maturation as an NFL player.

Is it even possible that there is anyone in Kansas City who knows more concerning Matt Cassel's abilities as an NFL quarterback? Doubtful.

If we really need evidence that Cassel is capable of succeeding without much contribution from Moss, all one has to do is glance at a few box scores. In six games last season, the receiver had three or fewer catches, yet New England's record in those games was 4-2. Not only that, but Cassel's quarterback rating in those six games was a healthy 92.06, with only one interception. Moss caught just two of Cassel's seven touchdown passes in those six games.

Then there is the matter of just how efficient Cassel was at hooking up with targets other than Moss – namely Kevin Faulk and Wes Welker, New England's first and third-leading receivers. Both were among the AFC leaders in catch percentage, with Faulk grabbing 58 of 74 passes thrown his way (third overall) and Welker hauling in 111 of 149 (seventh).

Curiously, Moss was not even among the top 20. He was, however, among the AFC leaders in passes not caught (56), coming in sixth.

It would seem that not only was Matt Cassel a more consistent football player a year ago compared to Randy Moss, he found other receivers at a higher rate of success, and the Patriots just happened to win football games along the way. It should also be pointed out that Cassel and Moss connected just twice over 30 yards in 2008, which is in direct contrast to other quarterbacks who relied so heavily upon the receiver for huge plays down the field. And yet the Patriots, fifth in the league in total offense, were no worse for it.

There's no denying that Moss has a certain effect on coverages a quarterback might see. But certainly we can conclude that Cassel did not rely upon Moss to a gross extent in order to move the football, nor did he develop tunnel vision on the receiver to the detriment of other open targets. The demonstration of such ability from so young a passer, in just his first year of starting, is clearly another reason Cassel was handpicked by Pioli to lead Kansas City on (and off) the football field.

Clearly, if anyone is in dire need of Randy Moss, it is not Matt Cassel, but rather those who seek to discredit the Chiefs' new quarterback and his well-earned contract.

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