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Q&A with Matt Cassel 12/29

Posted Dec 29, 2010

OPENING STATEMENT: “We’re fired up. It was a tremendous win for us, a tremendous win for this organization especially with where we were at last year. We knew it was going to be a process but to be at this point right now as AFC West Champions, a goal that we set early this off-season, coach (Todd) Haley put it on the board and had us write it down and it was a goal for us. To be here, right now, in this position is outstanding and we are excited about it. Moving forward we know that we have a big game this week against a division rival with the Raiders who are 5-0 (in the division). They are coming to our house where we have had a lot of success this year and we want to keep that home-field advantage. We know that they are a big physical group and we will be ready to go.”

 

Q: How do you feel about playing in a game Sunday that is meaningless as far as standings go?

CASSEL: “For us as players that is our job, to go out and compete for 16 games. As a group and as a team we have a lot of work to do going into the playoffs and there are things that we want to accomplish. One of those is to keep our home-field advantage and continue to play well.”

Q: How did you guys handle this when you were with New England?

CASSEL: “Tom (Brady) never let me step on the field if it was up to him. I think there was one time when we had clinched, which we were in the playoffs every year, and I think there was one time where I was able to go in and play like the second half of the game my rookie year. Other than that he always played.”

Q: Does the team benefit by adding that momentum if you play well?

CASSEL: “It definitely benefits you to keep your momentum going because I think that we have been playing pretty good football these past few weeks and if we can continue that it just builds further momentum going into the playoffs and hopefully gives us some confidence.”

Q: Can you talk about WR Dwayne Bowe’s progress?

CASSEL: “It is just awesome. To his credit he has come out and worked tremendously hard all season long and I have said it all year, he is a guy that has come out and started in the off-season workouts, the preseason to mini-camps and it goes along throughout the entire season with the way he has practiced, his leadership and then the way he performs on Sunday. There is not a guy more deserving than Dwayne Bowe to be in the Pro Bowl this year with the year he has had and the great catches he has made as well as the tremendous impact he has had for our offense. Not to mention just him, but the other two guys, RB Jamaal Charles and G Brian Waters, it is a great accomplishment not just for those guys, but for this team in general, especially our offense. To have three guys from our offense go to the Pro Bowl, that says a lot about how far we have come from last year.”

Q: How much help has Charles been with the threat he poses?

CASSEL: “He is a special player and not just in the run game, but you can also see him continue to elevate his game in the passing game, as well. He caught a screen last week and made a tremendous catch on the goal line play that we had. He continues to get better in different areas and you can also see his confidence continue to rise. He is becoming more and more of a leader in the locker room as well. He has a tremendous amount of talent and he is a guy we are lucky to have on our team.”

Q: A lot of people thought you were deserving of a Pro Bowl selection. Are you disappointed at all?

CASSEL: “I know there are a lot of great quarterbacks in the NFL, especially in the AFC. For me, I am just happy that our team is where we are and team goals come way before personal accomplishments. I think our accomplishments that we made this year as a team go way beyond anything that anyone could ever give me in terms of a personal accolade.”

Q: Some are mentioning you as an MVP possibility?

CASSEL: “Well I didn’t know I was mentioned in that, but that is kind of cool. I think it speaks again to the team and what we have been able to accomplish. All of these things go unnoticed, I think, if you go out there and you don’t play well and we don’t win ball games. If you get all the personal accolades and people get mentioned in certain categories because of our team’s success.”

Q: Was there a moment where you felt things started clicking? Was it potentially the second half of the game in Denver?

CASSEL: “I think that was a pivotal part for our team and our offense because prior to that we were heavily reliant upon the run. You guys can see it probably, we would run it and mix in the pass here and there but we were heavy run and limited pass. That game there was this boom, ‘oh my goodness, we can throw the ball as well, we can have a balanced attack if we need,’ and I think it kind of opened our eyes, not only for myself but for our receivers and everybody else. It gave us confidence as we moved forward that we could have a balance attack and if people are going to load the box then we can go out there and throw it and try and win that way.”

Q: Did Tom Brady have anything to do with your development?

CASSEL: “Absolutely. Tom is a guy that has been a mentor to me since the day I walked into the league. He is a guy that I constantly rely on, a guy I talk to every week if not every other week. He is a guy that I always try to emulate being a young player in the league, he had already won three Super Bowls and done everything you could possibly do. He is a guy also who humbled himself to help me. A lot of guys wouldn’t do that and he took the time out and I will always be appreciative for him.”

Q: Is there something specific you can think of that he taught you or illustrated for you?

CASSEL: “Besides all the mechanics and all that stuff that goes along with playing the quarterback position I think the most important for me was his leadership and how he handled certain players versus other players. He would maybe yell at some player on the field because they needed that and then other players he would wait until they get in the locker room and he would handle them in a different manner. It is something that really stood out to me as a young guy not understanding the leadership role yet. He really taught me a lot about leadership and how you have to lead.”

Q: Do you have a sense of how unusual it is for a starting quarterback to play well and get taken out for a few plays?

CASSEL: “That is not a question for me, I think that is more a question for coach Haley. That is just what he decided to do and as players we respect his decisions. We come out and we go back in.”

Q: What is the biggest thing Charlie Weis has helped you with this year?

CASSEL: “I think one thing that really stands out to me about coach Weis is his gameday presence. He is so calm and when I come off to the sideline, whether it is good or bad, I get on that phone and he is steady, he is consistent and we are always trying to get better and move forward. He is a guy, like Todd and the other coaches, who has always pushed me to be the best that I can be and he holds me accountable for my actions.”

Q: How hard has it been to convince these guys to focus on Oakland with a playoff game on the horizon?

CASSEL: “This is a big game for us. I think it goes back to what we talked about before. Coach Haley is always pushing us and this momentum that we are starting to build, we need to keep that going and that will help us as we go into the playoffs. You go into this stadium on Sunday and you go out there and are not ready to play you are going to get your butt handed to you. You have to be ready to play and we want to go out there and beat a division opponent.”

Q: What is the difference at home this season with the 7-0 mark and the 1-7 mark last year?

CASSEL: “I don’t know if there is one thing that I can pinpoint that is the difference. I think our team in general is just a different team and we have a mentality at home now that nobody is going to come in and beat us in our home stadium. It is fun to have the fans back and excited about football again and it is also fun that we have been able to win the division championship and bring that back to Kansas City and get that excitement going. It is fun to see this town excited about it. When I go out in public and people are yelling, screaming and excited about us again, that is fun.”

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