It’s a big year for Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel.
The hand injury that ended his 2011 season has healed and he needs to show that his poor play before getting hurt is also a thing of the past. Cassel completed under 60 percent of his passes for the third straight season while throwing 10 touchdowns and turning the ball over 11 times in a year that saw him give away all the gains he made in 2010. He needs to be better or there’s not much chance that he’ll see the $16.5 million he’s due in 2013 and 2014.
Quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn thinks that Cassel will do that. Zorn thinks that having a full offseason this year had a profound impact on Cassel’s game and that the work should bear fruit this season.
“He’s dramatically improved because we’ve been able to spend so much time together between all the OTAs, the minicamp and now,” Zorn said, via Bill Williamson of ESPN.com. “I really feel that he is further along than he was last year. He’s really taking charge. He’s working on things that he wasn’t working on last year at this time. The way he attacks his line of scrimmage with his command, he’s changing things or keeping things on. Our tempo is much better. We’ve really improved a lot of things sooner than we did last year.”
It’s hard to envision Cassel ever becoming an elite quarterback, but easy to see him running a successful offense led by a powerful ground game. The Chiefs have Jamaal Charles back after his knee injury and they signed Peyton Hillis, which should give them the rushing attack that they weren’t able to produce after Charles’ injury last season. There’s also been a lot of talk about using tight ends Kevin Boss and Tony Moeaki quite a bit, which should give Cassel steady, low-risk options to use in the passing game.
Cassel should be in a position to succeed, in other words. If Zorn’s right, it will be a good year for the Chiefs offense.