Matt Cassel certainly didn’t flourish in his first season in Kansas City. Considered a prize pickup after his run in place of Tom Brady with the Patriots, Cassel threw for 16 touchdowns, but matched that with 16 interceptions. He wound up with a quarterback rating under 70. This season has been enough to make many forget that season. Through 11 games, Cassel has a rating near 100 thanks to 22 touchdowns and just four picks. And now he’s put together a seven-week stretch that should have people talking. Instead, most of that chatter is about Michael Vick’s resurgence or Brett Favre’s probable final season or just about anyone else it seems — even Phillip Rivers, who is putting up potential record-setting numbers despite trailing Cassel and the Chiefs in the standings.
The numbers for Cassel, though, are staggering. He’s thrown for 18 touchdowns and just one interception in the Chiefs’ last seven games as he and receiver Dwayne Bowe have simply caught fire. Bowe has 13 of those scores, including at least one in each of the last seven games. On Sunday, the two connected three more times as the Chiefs kept their one-game lead in the AFC West. Matt Cassel joinedWHB in Kansas City with Soren Petro to discuss his confidence level right now, what has gotten into Dwayne Bowe, why teams are still trying to cover him one-on-one, the Chargers nipping at their heels, squaring off with former college coach Pete Carroll and why he’s thrown so many fewer interceptions this year.
On playing with confidence:
“We’ve been playing with a lot of confidence, we really have, on our side of the ball and I think the team’s been playing with a lot of confidence. In terms of executing the playbook, I think we’re getting more consistent with what we’re doing. Obviously, Dwayne had another big day … and obviously my confidence has grown in Dwayne and the rest of our passing game. We’re just going to continue to grow and this when you want to play your best football, come December.”
On Dwayne Bowe having a hot hand:
“A lot of times, in what we do from a passing standpoint, it’s dictated by coverage and we had a lot of great matchups with Dwayne all day with one-on-one matchups on the outside and, again, the more that we can go to him, the better, just because, like you just mentioned, he’s got a hot hand right now. … Hopefully that continues.”
On whether he’s surprised teams are still trying to cover Bowe one-on-one:
“We’re kind of putting defenses into a bind right now just considering the fact that we are running the ball so well. They have to make a choice. Do they load up the box and try to lock us down on the outside with one-on-one coverage or do they play more zone coverage and try to put somebody over the top and maybe not load the box as much? It’s just one of those situations where, because of the running game being so effective and so efficient right now for us, it kind of puts the defense in a bind.”
On the Chargers breathing down their necks in the AFC West:
“I think, for us, we can’t worry about anybody else right now. We’ve just got to continue taking care of our business and we’ve got to go one game at a time and just continue to win our games at every opportunity that we have. … San Diego’s playing great football, but that’s the team they are. They always come on strong in the second half of the year and that’s what they’re doing right now. … But we can’t worry about anybody but ourselves.”
On squaring off with his former coach at USC, Pete Carroll, in Sunday’s victory:
“It was so long ago and, at the time, when I was going through the whole situation [of not playing at USC] was it tough? Absolutely, because as a competitor, you want to play. But I have no ill-will toward Coach Carroll and I enjoyed my time playing under him there at SC. I thought he was a great coach and we did a lot of fantastic things there at USC. But, in terms of yesterday, it was about the Kansas City Chiefs and the Seattle Seahawks.”
On why his interception numbers are down so much from a year ago:
“I just think we’re playing good offensive football. I think we have a balanced attack and I think I’m being smart with the ball. I’m not trying to force things that don’t need to be forced. It’s just so far, so good, I guess. It’s just playing better football.”