Chiefs seem to be regressing, not progressing

Updated: December 8, 2009, 5:30 AM ET
Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Matt Cassel will be right back under center when the reeling Kansas City Chiefs host Buffalo on Sunday. But what effect will getting benched during a blowout loss to Denver have on the young quarterback?

A positive one, coach Todd Haley insists. Haley also said Monday he's not worried that the leadership he counts on Cassel to provide will be affected by teammates seeing him jerked out of the game and replaced by backup Brodie Coyle.

"No, not in my opinion," Haley said. "Others may have different opinions, but not in my opinion. I think that's a head coach's decision to make, of where the game's at and circumstances surrounding it. Yesterday at that time I thought the best thing for us as a team was to put Brodie in the game and let him play a little bit."

Near the end of a disastrous third quarter of a 44-13 loss to the Broncos, Haley replaced Cassel with Croyle and Cassel spent the rest of the game on the sideline.

Cassel, who signed a lucrative contract last summer that guarantees him about $28 million, had been struggling along with everyone else on the offense. He was 10 for 29 for 84 yards, with two interceptions and two sacks and a horrendous quarterback rating of 14.6.

Croyle, who was the starter last year under Herm Edwards until he was shelved for the season by a knee injury, did not fare much better, hitting six of 14 for 134 yards as the Chiefs (3-9) suffered their second lopsided loss in a row.

It was also Cassel's second straight poor performance. In his defense, several of his receivers dropped passes. But he also made some poor throws.

Nevertheless, Haley seemed to signal that Cassel is back in good graces.

"I thought Matt did some really good things that should have had us in a better position than we were in," said Haley. "I thought that's how he had played in the first half. He avoided a couple of sacks and made positive plays out of it, and again made some throws that probably should have been big gains for us.

"In the third quarter ... our team as a whole unraveled more offensively. And Matt's his own worst critic. He's disappointed with a couple of plays he made in that stretch, as are the other guys on the offense."

Haley believes getting benched during the game might actually be good for Cassel.

"In my opinion, the experience he had to go through in coming out of the game and watching his backup play is more important than actually being in there for that last quarter."

Without any reliable receivers and working behind an offensive line that's never been consistent, Cassel has had a rough first year with the Chiefs. He's 188 for 349 with 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He's also been sacked 37 times for 212 yards in losses.

Haley said he'd given no thought to letting Croyle start against the Bills while Cassel takes a while to collect his thoughts and emotions.

"I'm going to play the guys who give us the best chance to win and Matt is one of those guys right now," he said.

The 37 sacks do not count the number of times Cassel's been hit after unloading the ball. But game after game, he's jumped right back up.

"A the head coach and (offensive) coordinator, I think the kid's a tough, tough guy," Haley said. "Generally, when you're tough you can handle adversity. That's the quarterback's job is to stand adversity in the face and overcome. Matt is back at it today already. We've reviewed this tape, made our corrections. He's on to Buffalo and figuring out the best way for us to beat the Buffalo Bills."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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