Matt Cassel Gives Kansas City Sports Fans Something To Cheer About For A ChangeI’ll be the first to admit that I thought the Kansas City Chiefs would fade during the second half of the NFL regular season and miss out on the playoffs. To their immense credit, the Chiefs have not only held on to their lead in the AFC West and qualified for the playoffs in just year two of the Coach Todd Haley era, they’ve also actually improved dramatically as a team down the stretch. Most notably (and importantly), Matt Cassel has elevated his play during the second half of the season. After not doing much during the early stages of the season, Cassel has turned it up several huge notches this past few months. Can Cassel and the Chiefs compete with the likes of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger come playoff time? We’ll see. Perhaps not,
but I’m done sleeping on the Chiefs after seeing how they’ve handled their business the past few weeks.Cassel joined WHB in Kansas City to talk about clinching the AFC West crown on Sunday, if he watched the Chargers loss to the Bengals closely after the win, how the Chiefs will approach their Week 17 matchup against the Raiders knowing that they’ve secured a playoff spot, if he’d prefer to play next Sunday as if everything was still at stake, on getting a home playoff game, on how he feels physically a few weeks after his appendectomy, if the Chiefs are ahead of where he thought they would be in their rebuilding, and if Todd Haley’s message has changed since they’ve clinched the playoff berth.
On if he kept a close eye on the Chargers game following their win over the Titans:
“Well after the game, like you said, we knew we took care of our part of the bargain in terms of trying to continue our drive to get to the AFC West champions. And then I kept close updates and kept hearing close updates on the Charger game, I wasn’t able to watch it. But when it came down and those last seconds ticked off, there were quite a lot of happy people screaming and yelling in my household last night.”
On how they’ll approach this next week of preparation for their Week 17 game against the Raiders knowing that there’s not much at stake:
“Well I think from a preparation standpoint, nothing really changes, especially from my standpoint. I think that there’s a lot of work still to be done, we can still get a lot better, and we can use this week to get better. The Oakland Raiders are a division opponent, and we’re not going to take them lightly by any means. We’re going to go out there and get ready to play, and hopefully get another victory and get us to 11 wins.”
On if he’s the type who would prefer to play next week rather than risk disrupting his rhythm by sitting out part or all of the Chiefs’ finale next week:
“Absolutely, we play this game to be out there on Sundays, and every opportunity I get I want to be out there with the team, I want to be out there with the guys, so I’m planning on playing until they tell me I’m not playing.”
On if he felt better physically this week than his first game back after the appendectomy:
“I did. It continues to get better each and every day, and I felt great yesterday and hopefully that continues.”
On getting a first round home game at Arrowhead Stadium during Wild Card Weekend:
“Oh man it’s exciting to play at Arrowhead, and especially at that time of year because we’ve had such a good run this year, the fans have been terrific and guy shave really responded well playing at home.”
On if he thinks the team is ahead of where he thought they’d be:
“You know, I don’t want to say that because we set high goals for ourselves and we had high expectations this year. We didn’t know exactly where this team was going to go, but you could see such a great turn around and such great enthusiasm and energy during the offseason work-outs, and I felt like this year was going to be different for us. But I can’t say I’m not a little surprised about what an unbelievable turnaround it’s been for us this year.”
On if Coach Haley’s tone or message has changed now that the Chiefs have wrapped up a playoff berth:
“Not really to be completely honest. After the game it was just putting us one step closer. Again, we didn’t know that San Diego was going to lose, so we didn’t know what our playoff shot was. All we knew is we were going to have to play one more game for the playoffs. So his tone hasn’t changed – it’s been consistent throughout the year, and I don’t see that changing at all as we move forward.