Chiefs QB Matt Cassel did not have a very good season in 2011, which may go a ways in explaining why both Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli said Thursday that they want Cassel to face some competition for the starting quarterback position in 2012, according to Randy Covitz of The Kansas City Star.
"We've been saying it for three years, and I'm going to continue to say it, because it's a core part of our philosophy: There will be increased competition at every position, including the quarterback position," Pioli said, according to The Star. "Who that is, I don't know. Maybe it's Kyle (Orton), maybe it's another free agent, maybe it's a draft choice, I don't know."
While Pioli framed it in terms of a general question of philosophy, Cassel's decline from 27 touchdowns and six interceptions in 2010 to 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 2011 almost certainly factors into the equation. His hand injury, shaky offensive line and lack of running help (RB Jamaal Charles was injured for most of the 2011 season) were certainly mitigating factors, but as Crennel said, "competition makes everyone better."
Backup Ricky Stanzi, a second-year product out of Iowa, never got to see the field last season, and Kyle Orton, who won two of three starts in his first season in Kansas City, is an unrestricted free agent. Orton fared decently after he was traded from AFC West rival Denver, completing 60.8 percent of his passes and averaging 8.0 yards per attempt, despite tossing two interceptions against just one touchdown.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs are working hard to fill their offensive coordinator vacancy. Crennel has interviewed Raiders offensive coordinator Al Saunders and his own quarterbacks coach, Jim Zorn, who the team recently prevented from talking to the Bears, for the position. Crennel said that he might interview one or two more candidates before making his decision.
According to NFL Network Insider Jason La Canfora, the Chiefs are also talking to Brian Daboll, who previously worked with Pioli, and last served as offensive coordinator for the Dolphins in 2011, when he helped Matt Moore to a surprisingly successful season. The new offensive coordinator will have some say in what direction the Chiefs decide to go in at the QB position, as well as in who they hire as their new WR coach, OL coach and assistant OL coach.
"If you hire a coordinator, you have to let the coordinator run his program," Crennel said, according to The Star, "and if the program is a different program than what the players are used to, they have to adjust."
The vacancy was created when offensive coordinator Bill Muir informed the club on Wednesday that he was retiring after 34 seasons in the NFL.
The Chiefs also have to hire a new director of college scouting after Phil Emery became Chicago's new general manager. Pioli told The Star that the team would not bring anyone new in at the moment.
"Making a change now, the timing would be terrible," Pioli said. "What we've tried to do in coaching and scouting is we want to reward people by promoting from within. Those people have to be ready, but that's the great reward you offer to these people."
The way wee see it
Kansas City holds the No. 11 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, when top collegiate signalcallers Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III will almost certainly be off the table. The Chiefs could conceiveably go with Ryan Tannehill if available, or select a Krik Cousins-, Brandon Weeden- or Nick Foles-type quarterback later in the draft.
Cassel is signed through the 2014 season. He signed a six-year, $63 million contract with $28 million in guaranteed earnings in 2009.