Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Is Matt Cassel Really the 22nd Best QB?

According to to Ron Jaworksi's recent quarterback rankings, Matt Cassel is the 22nd player on the list. It should be mentioned that there were only 30 players on the list - since Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III have no accumulated stats yet and are expected to be starters, they were left off the list; also, Tim Tebow had the honor of being the only back up QB to make the list.

But is Cassel really that bad?

I know Chiefs fans aren't that fond of Cassel at times, but to have Cassel in the bottom third of all NFL quarterbacks, just a year removed from a Pro Bowl season, seems a little low in my opinion. Here is Jaw's breakdown of his opinions on Cassel:

“Cassel is at his best in a managed offense that features run personnel, run formations and the play-action pass game. Play-action primarily gives the quarterback 'either-or' defined reads. Cassel is very good in that scenario. ... Cassel throws the ball better to the inside -- digs, hooks and throws like that -- than he does to the outside. That’s the way it is with quarterbacks with limited arm strength.

“In addition, the deep throws often come on first down. Play-action is almost always featured. As is six- or seven-man pass-protection schemes. ... You give Matt Cassel a solid run game, a good offensive line, room in the pocket to deliver the football comfortably, and he can be a very efficient NFL starter. That’s what he is. He’s a function of the team around him. And he needs those pieces in place working effectively.”

This seems like a hard but fair assessment of Cassel, but is being a "function of the team around him" a reason to drop him so low on the list?  

To answer that, I suppose we'll have to look at the list itself. The eight players listed below Cassel are: 

Tim Tebow: 30
Blaine Gabbert: 29
Christian Ponder: 28
Matt Flynn: 27
Matt Moore: 26
Kevin Kolb: 25
Ryan Fitzpatrick: 24
Mark Sanchez: 23

While I'm sure there are many other fans from other teams wondering how Cassel is ranked above some of the quarterbacks listed above, I can see the case for Cassel to fit into this group. Now for the eight quarterbacks listed higher than Cassel: 

Carson Palmer: 21
Sam Bradford: 20
Andy Dalton: 19
Matt Hasselbeck: 18
Josh Freeman: 17
Alex Smith: 16
Cam Newton: 15
Matt Stafford: 14

First off, how is Stafford only ranked 14? He threw for over 5,000 yards!

Second, Cassel's place on this list makes much more sense after seeing the players ranked ahead of him. Sitting on those 21-14 are 6 first round draft picks, 5 of which were number one overall picks (Palmer, Bradford, Smith, Newton, Stafford). If Stafford is only ranked 8 spots ahead of Cassel, I feel much better about Cassel's spot - granted, 8 spots constitutes nearly a third of the list. 

Jaw's ranking of Cassel probably has a lot to do about the question marks revolving around him. He has the offensive weapons around him to succeed, yet he struggled mightily last season, only throwing one more TD than INT before being lost for the season in a defeat to the Denver Tebows Broncos. 

If Cassel wants more respect, like to not be ranked the lowest of any AFC West quarterback, then he has to put his money where the Chiefs mouth is. While Cassel might not have the talent to crawl up too far on this list by the end of the season, I would trade wins for projected quarterback ranking slots in a heartbeat. 

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