When the Kansas City Chiefs meet the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football Brady Quinn or Matt Cassel will be the starting quarterback. If Quinn is healthy, he is expected to get the call, but he has yet to be cleared to practice meaning Cassel is likely to get the call.
If this game wasn’t on national TV against a coach in Todd Haley that was fired by GM Scott Pioli exactly 11 months ago, you have to wonder if second-year signal caller Ricky Stanzi would be preparing for his first NFL start.
The best time to prepare someone as inexperienced as Stanzi would have been during the bye week, but at 1-5, the Chiefs had no interest in admitting the season was a lost cause. After two embarrassing losses — including last Thursday night on the NFL Network against the San Diego Chargers — there’s no more denying things have officially crashed and burned in Kansas City.
With the Chiefs playing on Thursday and then Monday, making the move to Stanzi would have once again made sense this week. Those extra days would have been invaluable for the former Iowa star.
However, like most decisions made by this franchise, vanity has been put ahead of what could actually be better for the team in the long run. Pioli already knows Haley, the Steelers offensive coordinator, would like nothing more than to hang 50 points on his former team. That sort of performance would almost have to be the final nail in the general manager’s coffin.
Putting Stanzi up against a defense that is best in the NFL against the pass and seventh in the run game, would make it easy for Pittsburgh to score early and often. A more cynical person would argue Quinn or Cassel will be just as bad as a second-year quarterback with zero career attempts, but Pioli and head coach Romeo Crennel are clearly betting on one of the veterans being able to at least keep the game from getting out of control.
The funny thing about the team’s refusal to turn the page to Stanzi and see what they have is that he could be the one player capable of saving Pioli and Crennel’s jobs.
If Stanzi were to impress in a second half of the season that includes at least four winnable games, that would give the general manager something to hang his hat on as he tries to avoid getting fired by owner Clark Hunt.
The best case scenario is the Chiefs find a young quarterback to build around. The worst case — and more likely — scenario is the losses continue to pile up the way they did with Tyler Palko running the offense last season and Kansas City locks in the No. 1 pick.
Chiefs fans win either way long term. For Pioli and Crennel, only the best case scenario keeps them employed, but they certainly aren’t getting anywhere with the current plan.
For Kansas City. For America. It needs to be “Stanzi Time”.