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You’re hungry for Chiefs football, eagerly anticipating your first look at the new Arrowhead Stadium, and ready to see what Scott Pioli, Todd Haley and Matt Cassel have to offer Kansas City. When the Chiefs take on the Texans tonight, you won’t want to be disappointed.
Prepare to be.
Odds are, the Chiefs won’t look great tonight. If you’ve paid any attention to training camp reports, KC’s passing offense is not completely in sync right now, and that’s putting it mildly. On days when Cassel isn’t throwing interceptions, Dwayne Bowe is dropping passes. And when the team isn’t practicing, they’re signing veteran castoff receivers (Amani Toomer) or working out former first-round busts (Ashley Lelie).
When Cassel was asked if KC's offense was on track this week, his reply didn't exactly inspire much confidence.
"It is hard to tell," he said. "It’s so early in the season and we have been out there for one week. We’ve got the pads on each and every day and we are not game planning anything, we are just installing each and every day. Right now it is hard to tell."
That’s a whole lot of warning signs, with not much good to offset them. The Chiefs might run the football really well and play great defense against the Texans, but if the passing game looks flat, people will be disappointed. Haley and Cassel didn’t come to Kansas City to be Herm Edwards and Damon Huard, to play Martyball. These new Chiefs are supposed to be driven by the passing game above all else.
Right now, that passing game seems to be stuck in neutral. So tonight, there’s a pretty good chance receivers will be running the wrong routes, timeouts will be wasted and the timing will be off all over the place. Unfamiliarity breeds mistakes. Things could get really ugly, really fast.
So if they do fall on their faces, here’s a plea – give these new Chiefs some time. Even if Cassel goes out and tosses three interceptions, as Kyle Orton did for the Denver Broncos Friday night, don’t boo him as if he was Elvis Grbac. Remember, it’s just preseason.
As much fun as it might’ve been watching Orton flick those picks against the 49ers, it’s unlikely he’ll turn into a turnover-prone laughing stock overnight. If he only threw 12 interceptions a year ago in Chicago, where his receivers weren’t exactly a collection of All-Pros, he won’t morph into Jake Plummer 2.0 in Denver.
The same is true with Cassel. His track record doesn’t indicate he’ll make a bunch of bad decisions and throw risky passes into coverage. Your boos should be held in reserve for more worthy targets. For instance, let’s not forget Larry Johnson will be asked to pass block in this new offense, and Bernard Pollard will still be asked to provide run support on defense.
Jokes aside, there is some history here. When poor Brodie Croyle suffered through a preseason game a few years ago with Edwards in his ear and Will Svitek protecting his blindside, the boo birds were merciless.
Did Croyle ultimately fail as KC’s quarterback of the future? Yes. But was all that vitriol really deserved at that particular moment? No way.
We don’t really need to rehash the public’s opinion of Trent Green after his first season with the Chiefs, but if you recall, no one seemed to care that he spent a large portion of 2001 throwing to Snoop Minnis and Chris Thomas (when was the last time Snoop’s name appeared in print, anyway?). All that mattered was the 24 interceptions credited to Green.
Tonight, Cassel could be throwing to Terrance Copper, Devard Darling and Brad Cottam with KC’s first-team offense. Damion McIntosh could be lining up at right tackle. With Mario Williams and Amobi Okoye rushing the passer and Dunta Robinson and Eugene Wilson roaming the secondary, life will not be easy for KC’s offense.
The Chiefs could go three-and-out to start the game, and might be lucky to find the end zone before halftime. And we can’t forget about the rookie kicker. Anticipate some growing pains.
But no matter how much they hurt, try not to heap the derision too thickly upon Cassel and the rest of our new Chiefs. They don’t really deserve it at this point, and all it will do is make for an ugly, depressing scene at Arrowhead Stadium on what should be a momentous night. Carl Peterson and Herm Edwards are gone. Just try to enjoy their absence and hope Cassel doesn’t look quite as bad as Orton did Friday night.