Chiefs coach Todd Haley answered questions Tuesday about whether Matt Cassel was still his starting quarterback, which is surprising on a number of levels.
Cassel has started only one game since signing his $60 million contract with the team, and the Chiefs put up 409 yards of offense in it. Cassel made some mental mistakes, but there were plenty of positives from the performance.
Nearly as surprising was Haley’s response to the inquiries about Cassel. He said he would not hesitate to bench Cassel if that helped the team.
“You’ve got to ultimately do what you think gives your team the best
chance to win,” Haley said. “If that means another quarterback being in
there other than Matt Cassel, then sign me up.”
This could be more of Haley’s motivational tactics. He put receiver Dwayne Bowe on the third team during training camp, and said Tuesday that he believes performance will improve when their is a co-worker pushing for your job.
But Haley’s tough public love for Cassel may not be all bluster. There appears to be genuine excitement about Brodie Croyle, who played well in the season opener in Baltimore.
“I thought Brodie Croyle went into a very difficult situation, a
hostile environment against a very good defense and he looked like an
NFL quarterback. He gave us a legitimate chance to win. He executed the game plan the way he was asked to execute it,” Haley said.
Reading through all of Haley’s comments, one gets the sense he wasn’t happy about some of Cassel’s decision-making. And Haley alluded to previous examples of when he was involved in surprising quarterback changes: Vinny Testaverde over Glenn Foley in New York, Tony Romo over Drew Bledsoe in Dallas, and Kurt Warner over Matt Leinart in Arizona.
“When we made that change, there was a lot of negative feedback —
`What about the future?’ There weren’t too many people saying much when
we were in the Super Bowl last year,” Haley said.”
The Chiefs seem to be a long way from the Super Bowl, but Haley seems determined to put his stamp on the team, even if that means briefly benching the front office’s pick as the team’s franchise player.
At the very least, Haley seems to want to light a fire under his starter through the media by letting him know that no one is untouchable.