Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel says he isn’t just assuming that he’ll return as the starter in 2012, and that he’s ready to compete to earn the starting job.
“There’s competition every year,” Cassel told the Kansas City Star. “If you play this position, there’s always competition. You’re competing against yourself, you’re competing against somebody else. Whoever they bring in, you always compete and you always have to go out and try to get better.”
Cassel played nine games in 2011 before breaking his passing hand, and those nine games were disappointing: His passer rating was 76.6, down from 93.0 in 2010. But Cassel says he thinks he has made progress since arriving in Kansas City in 2009, and that the team was heading in the right direction before he got hurt.
“From year one to year two, our team made great strides,” Cassel said. “We won the AFC West and we went to the playoffs. Last year, we were in the middle of the playoff race and I broke my hand so there’s not much I can do about that.”
New Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel inserted Kyle Orton as the starter when Crennel became the head coach for the final three games of the season, but Orton becomes an unrestricted free agent in March and the Chiefs haven’t given any indication that they plan to re-sign him. At the press conference announcing that he will coach the Chiefs in 2012, Crennel had positive things to say about Cassel.
“Matt Cassel has won here,” Crennel said. “We’ve been to a playoff with Matt Cassel. I don’t think that Matt Cassel has fallen off the wagon overnight. I think he’s a good talent. He’s a good quarterback and he’s taken us to a playoff. So I anticipate that he can do it again.”
Those comments don’t sound like Crennel is planning to make Cassel compete for the job. But if Crennel makes Cassel prove that he’s the team’s best quarterback in a training camp competition, Cassel is ready for that.