Time For New Habits … New Year’s Cup O’Chiefs

Matt Cassel parses his words very carefully when speaking to the media each week.

There’s nothing unusual about that; most NFL starting quarterbacks handle their public chores with the media horde in much the same way. It’s all part of the quarterback’s handbook, especially in the early years of a QB’s career. Be pleasant, answer the questions, but reveal nothing, most especially what might be going on within the team, the locker room, or the offense.

But on Thursday, Cassel got a question he couldn’t answer, or more accurately he wouldn’t answer.

It started with this question: do you think winning is a habit?

“I definitely think it’s a habit and I definitely think it’s a culture, there’s a culture to winning,” Cassel said. “I’ve been around a lot of successful teams and I think once you have people buy in and you start to win some ballgames it becomes contagious.”

This led to a second question: is losing a habit?

“I don’t know that,” said Cassel. “I can’t answer that question, honestly.”

The last word said it all – “honestly.” Cassel decided not to try to create some sort of answer that wouldn’t really be an answer. That’s because he knows that if winning is a habit, then losing can become a habit as well.

That losing habit and the fact that it seems to have infected the Chiefs franchise for the last three years – a 9-38 record – has been tougher for Cassel to deal with than any pass rush, or dropped passes by his own receivers or his own mistakes. He won’t come out and say it – again that would be bad quarterback form – but the facts say a lot as do the few words that Cassel will give to the subject.

“It’s been tough,” Cassel allowed. “Obviously, you want to come in here and have a lot of success and the fact that we haven’t been able to do that is disappointing.”

New is what losing has been for Cassel. Yes, he’s started only 29 games over the last 10 years, but he’s not been part of a football program with the type of losing that he’s experienced with the Chiefs. Consider that in 1998 he led his Chatsworth High School team to a Los Angeles City 3-A title. And, then the next spring, he was part of the Chatsworth baseball team that won the L.A. City baseball championship.

Then he went off to Southern Cal and eventually was selected in the seventh-round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Patriots. Here are the results of the teams he’s played with:

Year Team                                                   Record Notes
2000 Southern Cal


Red-shirt season
2001 Southern Cal


Trojans lose Las Vegas Bowl
2002 Southern Cal


Trojans win Orange Bowl
2003 Southern Cal


Trojans win Rose Bowl and national championship
2004 Southern Cal


Trojans win Orange Bowl and national championship
2005 New England


Patriots win AFC East; go 1-1 in post-season
2006 New England


Patriots win AFC East; go 2 -1 in post-season
2007 New England


Patriots win AFC East and AFC; go 2-1 in post-season
2008 New England


Patriots fail to make the playoffs; Cassel starts 15 games


Cassel starts 14 games.

“You know, it’s just an ongoing process and there has been a lot of change,” Cassel said of what’s happened around the Chiefs in 2009. “I take a lot from this season, there’s been a lot of different adversity that’s come my way but I battled through it and I think as I move forward as the quarterback of this team, I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’ve grown a lot as a player because of that.”

What has Cassel learned about himself through this difficult season?

“Just to fight through adversity,” he said. “A lot of things are going to be thrown your way and there are going to be a lot of changes that are made around you but you have to keep fighting forward and you’ve got to keep pressing and you’ll come out on top most of the time.

“You just keep going from one weekend to the next and you just try to keep getting better.”

Right now, Cassel would like to find a way to help the Chiefs break the losing habit, and create the winning culture that he was part of for most of the decade.

“We’re going to try to move forward,” Cassel said. “This is the start of a new year and Denver’s our first opponent of the new year.”

And time to create new habits.


  • BILLS – named Buddy Nix as general manager.
  • GIANTS – placed RB Brandon Jacobs (knee) and CB Aaron Ross (hamstring) on the injured-reserve list; promoted QB Rhett Bomar and S Sha’reff Rashad from the practice squad.
  • PATRIOTS – promoted OL Ryan Wendell from the practice squad; released DL Titus Adams.


On January 1, 1967, the Chiefs beat the Buffalo Bills 31-7 in the 1966 AFL Championship Game at War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo. A crowd of 42,080 fought frigid conditions and a snow shower the day before to see Hank Stram’s team grab an early lead and then rolled to the victory that sent them to what would become known as the first Super Bowl. QB Len Dawson and TE Fred Arbanas connected on the game’s first score, a 20-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. Buffalo tied the score later in the period when WR Elbert Dubenion caught a 69-yard TD pass from QB Jack Kemp. But after that it was all Chiefs, as Dawson hooked up on a 29-yard TD pass to WR Otis Taylor, Mike Mercer kicked a 32-yard FG and then RB Mike Garrett scored on touchdown runs of one and 18 yards. Garrett ran 13 times for 39 yards and those two scores. Dawson was 16 of 24 for 227 yards and two TD throws. Taylor caught five passes for 78 yards, while WR Chris Burford had four caches for 76 yards. The KC defense had a pair of interceptions, from FS Johnny Robinson and CB Emmitt Thomas. Robinson returned his pick 72 yards.


Born on January 1, 1967 in Miami, Florida was LB Derrick Vincent Thomas. He was selected in the first round – fourth choice – of the 1989 NFL Draft out of the University of Alabama. Thomas played 11 seasons (1989-99) with the Chiefs, appearing in 179 regular and post-season games as well as starting 168 games. Over his career in regular and post-season play he had 765 total tackles and 134 sacks, one interception, 48 fumbles forced and 19 fumbles recovered. Thomas had four career touchdowns and three safeties. He was a member of the AFC Pro Bowl teams for nine consecutive years and was on the Team of the Decade for the 1990s. D.T. was added to the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009. He died on February 8, 2000 in Miami from complications from an auto accident in Kansas City on January 23rd.

Born on January 1, 1961 in Birmingham, Alabama was OT Irving Humphrey Eatman. He joined the Chiefs in 1986 after playing for three seasons in the United States Football League with the Philadelphia-Baltimore Stars where he was on two championship teams. Eatman was actually selected in the eighth-round of the 1983 NFL Draft out of UCLA after he had already signed with the USFL. He played five seasons with the Chiefs (1986-90), appearing in 69 games with 51 starts. Eatman went on to play six more seasons in the NFL with the Jets, Rams, Falcons and Oilers. He spent five years (2001-05) with the Chiefs as an assistant line coach on Dick Vermeil’s staff.

21 Responses to “Time For New Habits … New Year’s Cup O’Chiefs”

  • January 1, 2010  - Tenand6 says:

    Matt Cassel needs to make plays. That’s all. He’s a tough guy. He’s a hard worker. Got it. Matt has the “intangibles” that Pioli quantifies. Pioli got his QB with “intangibles.” Now he needs a QB with talent— the ability to find the most open receiver and deliver the ball with accuracy while avoiding the rush.

    Our “skill” position players seem to lack “skills,” save J. Charles.

    If Cassel consistently threw to the most open receiver and delivered the ball with accuracy, this offense would be pretty good. If his WR’s consistently caught the ball, they’d be damn good and Haley would be viewed as the offensive guru he is.

    Winning teams have players that make plays. I don’t know if that is out of habit, talent or both. But the Chiefs will not habitually win as long as their QB is inaccurate and fails to find the most open receiver and his WR’s drop catchable balls.

    LJ no longer has the talent necessary for his position. It has nothing to do with “habits.” He can’t make plays.

    Cassel and the WR’s need to make plays. And then there’s the defense……..

  • January 1, 2010  - Big Lee says:

    T6-Don’t leave out the role of the o-line. Have they improved? Yes-but it was terrible last year and early this year. Great QBs of Chiefs lore, be it Dawson on down to Green, had great lines in front of them. And a great line opens holes makes the ground game go, which is something else Cassel has not had in his quiver of weapons.

    It’s too easy to focus on one guy, the QB. Let’s build OL the old-fashioned way, with a high pick or 2, then evaluate Cassel. One more thing on receivers-I’m sorry, when an NFL guy gets his hands on the ball, he should catch it. Throws that are off a little kill YAC, but should be caught. Chiefs should be able to move the chains with much higher efficiency.

  • January 1, 2010  - Arrowheadlines: Chiefs News 1/1 « wire2 says:

    [...] Time For New Habits … New Year’s Cup O’Chiefs from Bob Gretz [...]

  • January 1, 2010  - Tenand6 says:

    BL: I think Bill Muir is the MVC– Most Valuable Coach. The O line, IMHO, has gone from HORRIBLE to pretty good. To my eyes, the O line has shown great improvement. I expect them to have two new starters next year, but this group for several games now has been protecting Cassel and gives Charles some lanes. If our so-called “skill” position players demonstrated their skills, this offense would be looking good. I’ve been shocked to see a pocket form for Cassel the last several weeks. The good news is this offense/play-calling gets WR’s open. We have a very balanced attack right now and that’s our identity. If we can get better accuracy from Cassel, if Cassel can find the most open receiver and our WR’s can catch the damn ball, the offense works. I like this offense. I don’t think it is that far away from holding its own if Cassel becomes more accurate. I think the WR’s will be better next year. I agree, let’s make sure the O line is rock solid.

  • January 1, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    Ask yourselves this…is the O-line really playing better now? Or is it the running of Charles that is making them LOOK better than they are?

  • January 1, 2010  - aPauled says:

    Cassel completed 63% of his passes for 3,700 yards last year in NE. Obviously he is more capable than he has shown with the Chiefs this year (55% for 2,700 yards).

    The offensive line was horrible early in the season, just below average since. The receivers/tight-ends at the start of the season were not NFL level. Better, still not real good.

    The Chiefs are consistently playing from behind and putting themselves in obvious passing situations. All of this has contributed to the Cassel numbers.

    Let’s see what Cassel can do next year when…hopefully…we field an NFL level of talent surrounding him on the Offensive side of the ball.

  • January 1, 2010  - ED says:

    Losing can be come a habit but that is not whats wrong with the Chiefs. This team has a talent problem not a losing habit problem. You can save that kind of talk for a team like the Titans. They had the talent to be more sucessfull early on this yr but fell into a bad habit of losing until V Young took over the QB job.

    Problem with Chiefs is we lack talent at the o-line and wide receiver position. People can focus on Cassell all you want but its not like he’s Jay Cutler throwing 25 plus interceptions. The receivers are the ones leading the league in drop passess. To many times we focus on the QB when their are 10 other players on the field that aren’t doing their job. Bottom line Pioli need to invest in Receiver and o-line to start the draft. I wouldn’t mine taking Dez Bryant in the first round and getting two linemen in the 2nd round with the 2picks we have in that round.

    Then in the 3rd round take either a nose tackle or OLB which ever one is the most talented on the board. Probably around the 5 to 6th round take another receiver and safety.

  • January 1, 2010  - Anon says:

    Gretz needs to learn the purpose of a comma.

    Cassel said “I can’t answer that question, honestly.”
    He did not say “I can’t answer that question honestly.”

    The difference in these two sentences is that in the latter, Cassel can’t answer the question with honesty about his answer. In the former, he may lack the experience or insight into the answer, and therefore doesn’t possess sufficient information to answer it.

    A journalist should know the difference.

  • January 1, 2010  - el cid says:

    Everyone is correct and wrong at the same time. The problem with the Chiefs go from Clark Hunt to the person who hires the cheerleaders. No one is operating on a high level and while some have a shining moment, there is no consistancy by anyone who ever got a check from the Chiefs for the last 10 years. Take the best, Tony G., a fine player but face it, what was best for Tony was more important than the Chiefs as a team. Take a currect issue, Pioli did little for the offense except sign Cassel, still do not understand it. How to fix it? I got a feeling it will not be worked on in 2010, no new CBA. What do I suggest? Somehow, someway, we cannot have more drafts like Jackson and Magee. Forget if they will someday be good, we need help playing the game, TODAY not 2 years from now. If Pioli really has skills, he better use them now. Haley needs a bad case of self examination, if he is not a HC type or fit for this situation, he should step asside. If he can do the job, start doing it. No more guys off the street, sane game calling skills, and his coaches need to use what is there and get better at it. Players, I got no clue. Commit to KC or join Tony G. down the road (you cannot get rid of them all, so some have to buy into the new plan or we are really screwed for years to come). The fans have to get past any one player being the end all or bum of the week. You win as a team (53) and you lose as the team (53). We need every guy to play at 100% when he steps on the field, right now we do not have that (no matter who you like, the entire team is not play at the same level at the same time).

    Well 2010 is here, we shall see what the Chiefs do to change. But for me, I see several more years of turmoil before the ship sails smoothly.

  • January 1, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    el cid says:

    “We need every guy to play at 100% when he steps on the field, right now we do not have that”

    Exactly. I’ve been bitching about this most of the year. There is not one single player on this team that is playing to the level they are capable of. At times…yes. Consistantly…no. It really makes it difficult to judge where this team stands. Is player ‘A’ really that bad? Or can he just not get his head out, and play at a pro level for an entire game or season? Would be interesting to see what kind of game we would play if every single player played their best…on both sides of the ball.

    Great post, el cid. I don’t agree with all of it, of course…but, it was well written and makes some valid points.

  • January 1, 2010  - hertx says:

    In the end it would have made more sense keeping Croyle and saving the money and the draft pick. 3 wins is just not worth it. The money could have been used for the offensive and defensive lines. It was a risk that did not pay off. CHiefs have to develop the lines or expect a lot of 4 win seasons. I still think the Chiefs are as good as Denver and Oakland. SD can be caught but it starts with the lines. The CHiefs are positioning to deal with the new CB agreement. It won’t be as money friendly for the small market teams and they know it.

  • January 1, 2010  - aPauled says:

    “In the end it would have made more sense keeping Croyle and saving the money and the draft pick.”

    That may have worked for 2 or 3 games until Croyle suffered his next injury. (Look at his history. This man cannot play an entire season.) Then we would have been back to Thiggy and the run-and-shoot.

    The NFL is a QB league. Look at the playoff teams. These teams all have solid QBs. Matt Cassel has the potential to be a solid NFL QB that can lead the Chiefs to the playoffs. Croyle nor last off-season’s favorite son, Thigpen, have that potential.

  • January 1, 2010  - el cid says:

    Last game of the year, a bad year, and still people want Croyle or Thigpen as QB. My goodness, if QB was the major problem of this team, it might be worth arguing about. Look at free agents, draft picks, OL, or Defense. QB is important, ok, but with the Chiefs OL, it is such a minor area of concern. This is a losing team not a team with a losing QB.

  • January 1, 2010  - Rick says:

    el cid i finally agree with you. Cassell is not a losing qb. Someone earlier listed his completion %. OK figure if half of the dropped balls are caught what would be his %? if half of them are caught how many yards does that ad to his total? My prediction for next year 8-8 and if we get a couple breaks 9-7. Goodbye pendergast (sp) hello romeo crenell (sp) hello charlie weiss. Happy New Year everyone!!

  • January 1, 2010  - hertx says:

    The Chiefs would be in position to draft a franchise quarterback this year and actually have the line to protect him. They only won 3 games so what was the point paying the big bucks for a slow.. low completion percentage guy? I am not so sure they couldn’t have gotten R.Seymour for the same draft pick and….not have spent the extra money as RS was under contract.

  • January 1, 2010  - ED says:

    Agree with el cid people keep pointing at Matt Cassell as the problem must don’t have real insight on how well the other guys on field need to their job to be successful. The o-line is a major concern can’t give quarterback time to throw and opens very few running lanes for Charles. Its a testiment to how special this kid is to still be doing as well behind that o-line. Next receiver are below NFL level save for Bowe and Chambers. We need more young good receivers that can hang on to the ball.

    Defensively we lack another pass rusher that can create havoc opposite of Tamba to take pressure off of him. We also need a talented nose guard that can be the plug to run a true 3-4 defense. As for Jackson, Dorsey, and Magee they all will continue to get better as time go on. So bottom line Pioli got his work cut out for him fixing this broken franchise. We got the QB now lets put the other pieces in motion to make this a complete team. So 2010 needs to be more about being an all around good team. We had a great Qb in Trent Green with an explosive offense but the defense was the exact opposite of the offense.

    So here’s to the Chiefs in this decade accomplishing 3 things:

    1. Being a great team in all phases offense, defense, and special teams.

    2. Winnning in the playoffs. Not just breaking the losing streak of winning a playoff game but multiple playoff games.

    3. Last but not least winning the Lombardy trophy. Winning a Super Bowl would be the last thing I would love to see this team accomplish this decade. I think we have the right people in the building now to do just that.

  • January 1, 2010  - el cid says:

    ED I assume you mean that the 3 things you want accomplished happen from 2010 to 2020? Good goals but there will have to be vast improvement from Pioli/Haley’s first year. Hope they can do it. One issue is the CBA and how that will effect advancement. Then they cannot swing and miss on free agents and draft picks. All in all Pioli will get another Exec. of Year award if he can put together a team. Haley must step up his game also and get successful play out of what players he is given, the swinging door of players must disappear. ED you may get what you want, this off season will hopefully get on your road to the superbowl.

  • January 1, 2010  - Big Lee says:

    Agree with all of you who note that QB is not a major problem. Croyle is a great guy to have as a back-up, but can’t stay healthy to be a starter. Some wanted Croyle cut before the year started. He’s right where he should be.

    I’m not sure about the future of the CBA, but I know Chiefs could have spent more on this year’s team (salary cap) and been more competitive. Fanbase needs some hope. Money spent on OL would have been prudent, and would not have broke the bank.

  • January 1, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    Big Lee says:
    “…but I know Chiefs could have spent more on this year’s team (salary cap) and been more competitive. Fanbase needs some hope. Money spent on OL would have been prudent, and would not have broke the bank.”

    Like who? Do you know of any good players lining up to come play for the “powerhouse” Kansas City Chiefs?

    Said it before, and probably will again many times before it’s over…finding good players willing to come to our team is going to be a HUGE challenge for Pioli. FA’s that are going to make much impact on a team want to go to GOOD teams…not “rebuilding” teams. Sad, but true.

  • January 2, 2010  - Rick says:

    hertx…why you banging on Cassell yet? Average at best o-line….Below average wide outs….first few games until johnson got cut below average running game….who could have done better????

  • January 2, 2010  - hertx says:

    I like the guy..but why bring in a guy pay him a fortune to beat him up. More teams have have won with average Qb’s than have won with avg to below avg lines. I would have put the money into the lines. It’s possible no line upgrades were available but if thats the case don’t bring in the QB to kill him.

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