Not buying a QB change in Kansas City

September, 22, 2009
9/22/09
8:40
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson


I get that new coach Todd Haley believes in being critical in his attempt to rid the Kansas City Chiefs’ of their losing odor.

I get that Haley has already developed a reputation for demoting players who don’t playing well.

I get that as offensive coordinator in Arizona last year, Haley saw his team catch fire when Matt Leinart was benched in favor of Kurt Warner.

I get that Haley made headlines Tuesday when he said this when asked about quarterback Matt Cassel’s status as the starting quarterback: "You've got to ultimately do what you think gives your team the best chance to win. If that means another quarterback being in there other than Matt Cassel, then sign me up."

Still, I don’t buy the fact that Haley is considering benching Cassel. It doesn’t make any sense. It wouldn’t be fair to Cassel, Haley himself or the team. It’s been one game.

Cassel made some mistakes in the 13-10 loss to Oakland, but it was his very first game with the organization. He wasn’t at full strength as he is recovering from a knee injury.

Cassel isn’t the only reason why Kansas City lost. He did move the ball at times. There were actually encouraging signs. He played OK. So did Brodie Croyle in the season opener against Baltimore. Both quarterbacks had the same results for the Chiefs, who have won just six of the past 34 games: They lost.

There is no way Haley could be thinking about shelving Cassel this early. He knows it will take some time for him to develop. He knows Cassel will need to get into a rhythm with his new teammates.

Last season, as an injury replacement for Tom Brady in New England, Cassel showed he could by an effective NFL quarterback. Yes, Cassel had great weapons around him in New England. But he was the quarterback. He has ability. That’s why Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli, who also came from New England, wanted to reunite with Cassel.

That’s why Cassel will be paid $40 million over the next three years– to be the quarterback to turn around the Chiefs.

When I visited the Chiefs’ training camp in August, Haley praised Cassel. He said he loves how committed to the game Cassel is and how he think he can become a special player. No matter what the talk is in Kansas City, I do not expect a change. And it does happen anytime soon, it would not be the right move for the Chiefs.

They need Cassel to succeed. He can only succeed if he is given a chance.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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