The Kansas City Chiefs surprised the football world this season taking the AFC West title with a record of 10-6. This was the first time the Chiefs won the AFC West since 2003. Scott Pioli should be credited with some of the resurgence in Kansas City after building a young core in Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Dexter McCluster, Glenn Dorsey, Tyson Jackson and Tamba Hali to just name a few. With that being said Todd Haley and Matt Cassel were looking to bring this team to the next level last Sunday in the first round of the playoffs as they walked into the buzz-saw that is the Baltimore Ravens veteran-laden defense. Overall, the Chiefs should be proud of their 2010 season as the future looks bright in Kansas City. Matt Cassel joined WHB in Kansas City with Soren Petro to discuss how difficult it was to swallow his first playoff loss, on Baltimore dominating the time of possession in the contest, on the difference Ed Reed brings to the Ravens defense, on if in the last two weeks the Raiders and Ravens figured out something defensively to stop the Chiefs that no one else had this season, did the playoff game have a different feel on Sunday than usual, being able to look back at the sense of the accomplishments the Chiefs have made this year as compared to years past, on what the Chiefs need to do to take the next step next year and on does he want a say in Charlie Weis’s replacement at offensive coordinator.
On how difficult it was to swallow his first playoff loss when things really didn’t go the way the Chiefs envisioned had it?
“Yeah this one stinks. It really does. I could hardly sleep last night. You envision it going such a different route and unfortunately it did not for us. There’s a number of different reasons why. I think on my end I just have to do a better job of taking care of the football and keeping us in the ball game especially when you’re going into half at 10-7. We’re playing the ball game we wanted to and it just got away from us in the second half.”
Baltimore dominated the time of possession in the contest. How much did it take the Chiefs off their game plan?
“Well that’s a good point. I think we did a pretty good job throughout the first half of sticking to the game plan and you could see it. There’s play action. There’s running the ball with some authority. We were moving the ball up-and-down for awhile. We didn’t score a lot of points. We were still able to move the ball and move the chains. Then we got to the second half, we had a good sustained drive and from there were just kind of got out of sync. We got ourselves into some third-and-long type situations against good defenses especially with a team like Baltimore. That’s a veteran team. You just can’t put yourself into those type of situations. Then the turnovers happened. We were just not able to get out of that funk.”
On the difference Ed Reed brings to the Ravens defense. How much havoc does he bring?
“He does just because you have to know where he is. I think that they do a great job especially on third down schematically speaking they bring their overload blitzes. They really try to challenge your protection up front. But in terms of the secondary itself I think they all focus. You have to have focus on Ed Reed. It (Ravens defense) runs on what he calls. He puts them all in position and he’s the “wild card” back there. That’s the best front seven in football in terms of stopping the run. That’s a big physical group. Their built to play the run. That allows their secondary to do what they do which is just play more zone coverage. They did a great job of rolling up on Dwayne all day and trying to play safety over-the-top of him. They were able to create a “2-shell” over the top of that defense all day to just try to take away the pass because they thought they could handle the run with their front-seven.”
If in the last two weeks the Raiders and Ravens figured out something defensively to stop the Chiefs that no one else had this season?
“You know I think the Raiders game just from a defensive standpoint was completely different than the Ravens game because the Ravens came in with the mentality that they were just going to play more “zone” coverage. There a zone scheme and try to play split-safety coverage and take care of the run with the front-seven. In terms of the Raiders their all “man” coverage. You know against the Raiders we just did not do a good job of winning against man coverage and obviously I did not do a good job of taking care of the ball against the Ravens yesterday. It came down more to the second half, more so than the first half. I thought we played the game like we wanted to in the first half and then we just got ourselves into some bad situations.”
Did the playoff game have a different feel on Sunday than usual?
“You the know funny part is it really feels like there’s so much hoopla going into it, but once you get out there on the field you realize it’s just another game. We’re at home not a lot had changed. We played there seven times during the year. It was a great, great atmosphere. When you ran out of the tunnel and you see all the fans. You know the craziness of it was awesome. When it’s all said and done, it’s still just football.”
On being able to look back at the sense of the accomplishments the Chiefs have made this year as compared to years past?
“Well I guess just because of the playoff loss being so fresh in my mind right now, I haven’t been able to sit back and reflect to say this is an outstanding accomplishment this year for where we came from last year, where we were just yesterday. I think we made a tremendous amount of progress as a team, as an organization and hopefully this is just a stepping stone and helps us to build in the right direction as we move forward into the future.”
What the Chiefs need to do to take the next step next year?
“I think we made big strides this year and obviously we have a ways to go. I just think that we’ve got a group of guys, core guys now, that will hopefully just come back and continue to build on the success we had this year. Every year teams change, coaches change, and all that in the NFL. For us I think it’s the ability to just stay focused and keep the core guys here and move forward.”
Does he want a say in Charlie Weis’s replacement at offensive coordinator?
“I absolutely would like to have a say in what’s going on, but then again it’s not always up to me. Actually, it’s probably not up to me at all. I’m sure Scott (Pioli) and Todd (Haley) will make the decisions to bring in someone who going to give us the best opportunity to win and continue to grow offensively.