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Q&A with Matt Cassel - 9/15

Posted Sep 15, 2010

Highlights

OPENING REMARKS: “Big win for us, obviously – Monday Night Football, new stadium and it was a huge win for us as a team. I think that we’re all excited about what happened. Obviously it was a collective effort and the defense and special teams picked us up offensively throughout the evening but to come out with a win to start the season like that was great. It was great to get the monkey off our back early and now we’ve got a short turnaround and it’ll be a quick week for us this week.”

 

Q: What do you think you guys did the best offensively in the first week?

CASSEL: “Looking at what we did the best, we ran the ball really well. Under the conditions, I think they made an emphasis that we wanted to take care of the ball. He (Head Coach Todd Haley) continued to say no turnovers, no turnovers to me throughout the game, so that was one of our main emphases and we had to do whatever it took to win.”

Q: It is true for just about every team as some point in time, but Monday was a big night for this team – there hasn’t been a whole lot to cheer about or celebrate for awhile. Knowing that, how important is it to not go into Cleveland and overlook those guys just because they’ve struggled too in the past couple years?

CASSEL: “Coach has put a great emphasis this week so far, since we’ve gotten started here, that this isn’t our Super Bowl – it is one of 16 games. Our goal wasn’t just to come in here and beat San Diego, that’s not the season’s goal. It was a great start to the season, but at the same time we understand that we want to win a lot more games around here last year. That being said, we’ve got to refocus and get ready for a game that’s going to be right around the corner here.”

Q: Did the mood change after Monday? Could you tell a difference after the big win?

CASSEL: “Well, it’s a little different when you walk in here after a victory. The aches and pains don’t feel as bad and we have a lot of guys that were excited that were excited. To start the season off against a division opponent and a team that’s won the division the last four years, and to come out of that game with a victory, it was big for this team.”

Q: Have you ever seen Coach Haley as pumped up as when WR Dexter McCluster broke free and scored that punt return touchdown?

CASSEL: “I don’t know about that. I was screaming, I was going crazy, too. I was trying to sprint down there with him. It was such a great play. The stadium throughout the evening, I’m sure you were all there, it was electric. It was awesome to see Arrowhead like that. When Dexter broke down the sideline for that long run it was quite amazing sight to see.”

Q: How do you ignore the passing game? 68 yards isn’t all that great.

CASSEL: “I agree with you. Absolutely, we’re obviously not satisfied with what we did in the passing game. I know that we had inclement weather and all that stuff, but that’s really no excuse. We’ve got to overcome that and I know that we did have emphasis though on taking care of the ball, so we were a lot more conservative when we were playing with a two-score lead. We’d rather be in that position than be behind two scores and be trying to force the ball downfield and doing that. We’ve got to keep working at it, we’re going to keep working at it and hopefully it’ll continue to get better.”

Q: What’s your rapport like with TE Tony Moeaki? He was up there for team lead for most catches. Was that by design, is that something you’ve worked on already and have a good relationship?

CASSEL: “We’re continuing to work on it. He’s a guy who’s come in here and worked tremendously hard throughout the off-season and he’s got a lot of talent. We’re excited about Tony and he adds a lot to that tight end position. Hopefully he’ll continue to develop and we’ll continue to develop that chemistry and build that relationship.”

Q: If the Chiefs are going to have a successful season and get to the playoffs, what kind of passing numbers do you think the team will need? What would you like to average or what do you think you need to average?

CASSEL: “Probably like 550 yards per game, 11 TDs (laughs). No, no, I’m just kidding. I don’t really know what the answer is to that question. I think that we do have to complement each other and like I said the defense picked us up the other night and if it comes down to it where the offense has to step in and win a game for the defense when they’re not playing well then that’s how it’s got to be. I can’t answer the question of ‘we need to do this in order to win’ because like we saw the other night, we threw for 68 yards and we came out of there with a victory and it was a big win.”

Q: RBs Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones are very different running backs and have different styles. Does Jamaal’s ability to potentially break big runs, does that help you a little more in the passing game?

CASSEL: “I think we’re just lucky to have both of those guys. I think they’re tremendously talented. Jamaal does a great job with how he runs and he has a certain running style and Thomas has a certain running style and they both complement each other well. In terms of who’s in there and who’s going to give us the best chance to win week-in and week-out, that’s a question for coach to make that decision.”

Q: You guys faced a lot of third-and-long situations. First, how do you maximize your first and second down to get out of that third-and-long situation and second, how do you get better on third downs?

CASSEL: “Right, we have to get better in third down. That’s something that as an offensive unit if you’re not good on third down week-in and week-out, it’s very difficult to continue to move the ball, especially when you’re in third-and-long situations. I think we just have to work on being more productive on first and second down and then getting ourselves into manageable third-down situations because when you’re in manageable third-down situations you have the ability to run or pass and you keep the defense on their toes versus being in third-and-long, you know they’re pinning their ears back and they’re coming.”

Q: Did you like how you started the game with the long pass attempt to WR Dwayne Bowe?

CASSEL: “Well, if you hit it then everybody’s happy, but unfortunately we didn’t and you get in that situation. That’s the risk you take. It’s high-risk, high-reward, but at the same time we had an opportunity and we didn’t get to make the play. Unfortunately, it put us in a second-and-long.”

Q: When you were looking down the field on that first pass, at what point did you realize that you were going to get smacked when you threw that ball?

CASSEL: “I just knew that from the pre-snap read, it kind of dictated where I was going to go with that bad. I don’t really try to pay attention to the rush much so I didn’t really know it was going to take place until it happened.”

Q: Is there some value in not being the first-place team, that maybe you have a chip on your shoulder and can sneak in on some teams. Do you guys kind of like the idea of kind of not being the team to beat?

CASSEL: “Well, with this team and who we have right now and where we are as a team, we’re still trying to get better each and every week. We do have a chip on our shoulder. Any time you go through a season like we did last year we have a chip on our shoulder – we want to come out and perform well each and every week and hopefully we’ll be able to surprise a lot of teams this year.”

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