Around The Web: Gannon On Cassel-Weis, Free Agency Grades, Big Apple Marty Ball

When Matt Cassel gets under center next season he will be getting his plays from a new offensive coordinator.  According to Rich Gannon, Kansas City’s starting quarterback will benefit the most from having Charlie Weis around.

Gannon, now a CBS analyst who called several Chiefs games last year, said he saw a developing quarterback who needed the day-to-day nurturing that only regular and plentiful contact with the offensive play-caller can provide.

“All the good quarterbacks spend so much time with the play-caller, they can finish each other’s thoughts,” Gannon said.

Cassel was more muted about the issue than Gannon, but in agreement just the same.  He said at one point during the season he didn’t get enough meeting time with Haley.

“Now that Charlie is here, it will be great to have a guy who can concentrate totally on the offense,” Cassel said.

Weis left the Patriots for Notre Dame in 2005 just a couple of months before New England drafted Cassel.  But Cassel said he heard plenty about Weis over the years from Brady.

“I know he loved him as a coach,” Cassel said.  “He talked about him all the time and would always tell me what a huge impact he had on his career.  He tells me he’s a great leader and a great coach and he provides great direction.”

“Todd Haley is the head coach,” Gannon said. “He’s got all these other responsibilities.  You can never get enough time.

“Todd told me at one point during the season that he liked the road games the best because he could sit next to Matt on the plane and they could go through everything, all the different game situations and the first 20 plays and third downs and all of those things.  That’s because he was trying to catch up from what they missed during the week.”

I’m very excited to see how Cassel responds to the extra work he will get in with Weis every day.  Any questions I have about Haley being able to hand over the reigns of the offense will be answered with a quick start by the Chiefs quarterback at the beginning of the season.

With Scott Pioli and Haley in full-on draft mode, it’s important to remember that free agency will be just as important for the Chiefs.  Bob Gretz looked back at all of the players that Kansas City acquired last year and the grades aren’t impressive.  Just take a look at who tops the list of free agents.

WR TERRANCE COPPER – Signed for his special teams work, Copper played in all 16 games and made only a limited contribution to the offense with four catches for 68 yards.  His 50-yard play in Denver that opened the Chiefs first possession was one of the better and longer passing plays of the season.  Copper was second on the team in special teams tackles with 16, finishing just one behind team leader, rookie LB Jovan Belcher.  GRADE: B

In summation, that was 16 signees with an average grade of D-minus.  There were no grades of A given, and only two Bs (Copper and Vrabel).  Holding a mark of C were Cassel, Mays and Brown.

As the Chiefs personnel department begins a second season, they are going to have to show better results in signing players with experience.  Improvement in that facet of the personnel puzzle will help produce more victories.

They definitely swung and missed on a lot of players this time last year.  However, I think you need to give Pioli a lot of credit for doing a great job in the undrafted free agent market.

Belcher turned out to be a great pickup and definitely belongs in the league.  Given, on a better team he is more special teamer and backup LB than starter but you can’t deny the potential is there.

Dion Gales and Pierre Walters were also UDFAs that spend some time on the active roster.

Marty Schottenheimer’s son Brian has always been a guy known to throw the ball around the field.  This season with the New York Jets his offensive game plan looks a lot like something drawn up by his father.

Schottenheimer will direct the NFL’s top-ranked rushing offense in Sunday’s AFC championship game at Indianapolis.  And with a win over the Colts, Schottenheimer’s Martyball offense would reach the Super Bowl, the game that eluded his father for 21 years.

“He’s shown this year how flexible he can be and tried to utilize all the talents that are around him,” said Jets head coach Rex Ryan of Schottenheimer’s adopting a smash-mouth approach.  “That’s a mark of a great coach.”

Schottenheimer’s success with the Jets — through the air during 2006-08 with quarterbacks Chad Pennington and Brett Favre and on the ground this season with rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez and running backs Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene — led to his being a hot candidate for some open head-coaching jobs.  He turned down a chance to interview with Buffalo.

But his situation in New York was too good to leave at this time.

“If anybody understands how tough it is to get a head-coaching job, it’s me,” said Schottenheimer, 36.  “I’ve been close a couple of times.  I grew up in a family with a head coach.  At the time he was a head coach, there were 28 teams, now there are 32.  A lot of thought went into it.

“The biggest thing for me is the fact I’m happy.  I haven’t always been happy.  I love the direction of this team.  I think there are a lot of good days ahead.”

“We knew we were going to play with a young quarterback,” Schottenheimer said.  “One of our goals was to lead the league in rushing.  I think the best way to play is to be balanced.  I’m smart enough to realize that you want to call plays that give you the best chance to win games.

“When you are calling runs and you’re making seven, eight, sometimes 12 and 15 yards, you’d be crazy to come away from that.”

“When you ask these offensive coordinators to play a certain style, like the Jets are playing, it’s almost like asking a shooting guard, well, ‘We know you’re our shooter, but could you cut your shots in half?’ ” CBS analyst Phil Simms said of Schottenheimer’s adapting to a run-oriented offense.

“To me, the hardest thing to do in the NFL is to run it. It takes more design, more time, more coaching, and a heck of a lot more toughness to get it done. The Jets have got it done. Brian Schottenheimer has done a good job teaching it.”

I am intrigued by both of the games this weekend, but specifically the Jets-Colts.  Not only because of the drama surrounding the Colts pulling their starters and giving up their chance at a perfect season last time these two teams met, but because Jim Caldwell knows — like the rest of us — the Jets are going to run, run, run.

How much are the Colts willing to dare Mark Sanchez to beat them?  Without Bob Sanders sitting back there I would be nervous about giving the kid too much room to work with, even though he has been average at best this year.

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