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2010 Position Previews: Quarterback

Posted Jul 28, 2010

The eyes of Chiefs Nation are focused on Matt Cassel

Back for more: Matt Cassel; Brodie Croyle

Welcome to KC: Tyler Palko (free agent)

Departures: Matt Gutierrez

2009 Starts: Cassel (15); Croyle (1)

Career Games Played: Cassel (45); Croyle (16); Palko (0)

Preview: The eyes of Chiefs Nation will be on Matt Cassel at training camp, in preseason games and, obviously, in the regular season as well. Fans want to know if Year Two in the Chiefs offensive system will be the one that the Chiefs offense rises to new heights and most importantly, more wins with Cassel at the helm.

Check that, fans have made it very clear that they expect to see unmistakable development out of Cassel in 2010.

Cassel is the guy to lead the offense and the Chiefs have provided him with both coaching and player additions this off-season. In the process, Kansas City’s front office has never wavered in its support for Cassel, truly making him the franchise quarterback.

Whether it was a time of celebration (such as Cassel’s all-around solid performance vs. Pittsburgh), or a time of frustration (such as Cassel’s 14.6 QB rating vs. Denver at Arrowhead), Haley’s public stance on Cassel remained consistent.

“I think Matt, throughout the year, had ups and downs like all of us,” Haley said this off-season. “The thing about Matt is that he did continue to improve. He continued to go in this direction (up), which is good. He’s an extremely tough guy, mentally tough, because it was not an easy year to be the quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs and he withstood that onslaught.”

The same goes for Chiefs GM Scott Pioli. When questioned this off-season about the future of the Chiefs starting quarterback, Pioli’s stance was clear.

“We’ve got a quarterback,” GM Scott Pioli said, matter of fact, at the Scouting Combine when asked a loaded question about Jimmy Clausen (which was really a question about Cassel).

Cassel knows that he has the full support of Kansas City’s front office, coaching staff and locker room. But he also knows that he needs to put together a consistent 2010 campaign in order to gain full support from the Chiefs fans base.

Maybe the latter is why Cassel was inside the Chiefs Training Facility for countless hours this off-season. Then again, maybe that work ethic is just the everyday attitude that Cassel carries towards his job. Who knows? We all seem to learn more about Cassel with each passing day and we’re bound to learn more about him in 2010.

What we do know, is that when Arrowhead was empty, Cassel was often times inside. Whether it was in the weights facility, the film room or the practice facility, Cassel was busy doing something to help make himself a better player in 2010.

Will the extra effort lead to better results? That’s still to be determined. You can’t win football games in May or June, but you can certainly prepare yourself to do so in September.

#7 won’t be hard to spot in St. Joe.

Behind Cassel, the Chiefs seem very comfortable with Brodie Croyle manning the position as the club’s top reserve. Croyle probably didn’t make the best first impression with Haley in 2009 as he was rehabbing from knee surgery and missed the new coach’s entire first off-season. But Croyle made up for his initial absence with an outstanding training camp and a solid spot-start for the injured Cassel in the Chiefs season opener at Baltimore.

As the season went on, it was obvious that Haley, Cassel and Croyle had developed a positive connection. Croyle was even credited with suggesting a play-call that resulted in this TD pass at Cincinnati. The finger injury that sidelined Croyle for a handful of practices this spring isn’t expected to play a factor as training camp begins in St. Joe.

Tyler Palko won a spring battle with Matt Gutierrez for rights to the club’s third quarterback position this preseason. He’s the latest face in a revolving door of third quarterbacks for the Chiefs, aiming to become a permanent member of Kansas City’s 53-man roster. Gutierrez, Tyler Thigpen, Ingle Martin and Quinn Gray have each held the Chiefs third quarterback duties for portions of the past two seasons.

If you’re looking to see something rare in St. Joseph, be sure to catch rookie C Andrew Lewis when he’s paired with Palko. It may be the first time you’ve ever seen a left-handed center snapping to a left-handed quarterback.

Quotable: The following player or coach quotes occurred this off-season, relative to the position group.

Haley on Cassel…

“He’s going to fall under the one-year rule. He’s got a year under his belt after a very difficult year. Coming from a different place to a new place, different teammates and at the quarterback position, that’s even more difficult probably than most other positions. When you throw in the system, all the things he had to go through, it was a difficult year, but he survived it and that’s what I’m really excited about. He’s a tough-minded guy. He’s fired up; he’s working his backside off and is putting himself in the best position to be successful.”

Haley on Croyle…

“Brodie Croyle you can’t overlook. I perceive him playing a critical role for us as we go forward.”

Haley on Palko…

“I think that Tyler has a chance. Tyler is a guy who is a Pitt guy, WR Larry Fitzgerald’s quarterback and a guy Larry used to talk about and with me having Pitt roots, I always watched. He came to Arizona right about when I was leaving so we missed each other but I was excited that he was coming in because we knew that was happening at that time. Obviously some other things occurred with me. I am excited. He comes from a football background, he is energetic and he has been around some really good quarterbacks in the years following school. He has had great exposure in New Orleans with QB Drew Brees and Sean Payton who I know really well. He spent time in Arizona with QB Kurt (Warner) and Kenny (Whisenhunt). I am excited about some of the things he is doing. He is like all the others, he is working hard to compete and give himself a chance to make the team.”

Number Crunch: The Chiefs carried four quarterbacks on the Opening Day roster in 2009 – Cassel, *Croyle, Gutierrez and Thigpen

*indicates opening day starter

Up Next: Running Back

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