“No Fumbles,” joked someone in the media row.
“This time of year everybody is more mellow,” Cassel would later say.
That may be the case with no game plans to learn or opponents to scheme, but after last year’s off-season adventure, nobody at Arrowhead is about to get comfortable.
Cassel is just one of the many Chiefs who have made it a priority to report to voluntary workouts in top shape this year. Unfortunately, reporting day was team-wide disappointment a year ago. As he stood at the podium yesterday it was obvious that Cassel has been in the weight room since the season finale in Denver. At a glance, Cassel looked considerably stronger and it resulted in him portraying a confident demeanor.
“I think everybody is just collectively trying to make our team better and get prepared to go out there on the football field and win more games,” Cassel said. “Any time you win four games, that is a disappointment for us and our organization. We are getting ready to go out there and try and win more games this year.”
Cassel went on to say that a season like the one experienced in 2009 would not be tolerated in Kansas City. In the aftermath, Cassel has spent much of this off-season right here in Arrowhead studying, working out and discussing the intricacies of his game with head coach Todd Haley and other Chiefs assistants.
Many players head to their hometown to work out during football’s winter months, but not Cassel. Arrowhead trumped California in 2010.
“I have sat down with both Coach Haley and Coach Weis behind closed doors and we’ve talked about different things, whether it is mental or physical that we want to kind of work on this off-season and use as projects,” Cassel said. “I will keep those discussions to ourselves, but we have had those discussions and there are things that I want to do personally that will not only help myself, but also help the offense as we move forward.”
Cassel won’t benefit from any on-field guidance from Haley and company until mid-May with the Chiefs slate of organized team activities are set to begin. Until then, it’s all about throwing routes on air with receivers in the indoor facility and working out under the watchful eye of strength and conditioning coach Mike Clark in the weight center.
Chiefs fans certainly want to see Cassel improve upon his first-year numbers in Kansas City. His 69.9 quarterback rating and 1:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio are general areas for improvement next season. When looking at the big picture, however, those types of numbers should improve with a more effective season on the back-end.
Unlike a year ago at this time, Cassel is benefiting from a head coach and offensive coordinator who speak the same football language. Haley’s decision to add Charlie Weis to the coaching staff this winter was a move that made football sense. For Cassel, the addition of Weis should be thought of as yet another resource and talented coach for not only Matt, but the entire offense as a whole.
Between Haley and Weis, Chiefs players have at their disposal a set of coaches who are credited with the mentorship of not only Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald, but also New England QB Tom Brady as well. Those are just the superstars at the beginning of a long list and that’s not even beginning to take into account the Bill Muir’s and Maurice Carthon’s of the coaching staff.
What’s been done in the past is great, but today’s NFL is about the present. Now, it’s about transferring that past record of success to Kansas City. This voluntary program is only the start of a vital off-season, which needs to see an all-around improvement across the organization. Cassel is trying to lay the foundation early this year.
“It’s a fresh start for everybody,” Cassel said. “We’ll spend this whole off-season and we’ll just try to hone our skills, get better and build ourselves up and try to get better as an offensive unit, as a team and as we go into the season, hopefully build off the momentum we built up from last year in the last four games and just take that into the off-season and go with it.”