With the news that Matt Cassel returned to practice on Wednesday has come speculation from all corners of the sports world about what would have to happen for the Kansas City Chiefs starting QB to be on the field Sunday in St. Louis against the Rams.
Cassel is currently the only player listed on the Chiefs injury report, getting the official designation “Limited Participation”.
Over the last couple of days I’ve seen two people ask if the Thursday night game between the San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers should determine if the Chiefs let Cassel play this week or not.
The answer to that question is pretty simple: no way.
I completely understand the argument. A Charger loss guarantees the Chiefs a worst case scenario on Monday of a one game lead with two to play. Arrowhead is the destination for the final two weeks of the season for the Chiefs and the Chargers are going on the road, so it seems like Kansas City would still be in a pretty comfortable position.
In the NFL, there is nothing to feel comfortable about until you have that “X” next to your team signaling a trip to the playoffs.
The margin of error over these final couple of weeks would be far too thin to just write of Sunday’s game. What happens if the Chiefs suffer their first loss of the season at home while the Chargers beat up on the lowly Bengals and Broncos? That would present a tie atop the AFC West and with San Diego owning the tie-breaker (better record within the division) all of a sudden Todd Haley and his players would be on the outside looking in.
None of this is to say that starting Cassel in St. Louis will be the cure to all of the Chiefs problems. Hell, this is a team that has an anything-but-inspiring 2-4 record on the road with Cassel under center. But we all saw last week what the Chiefs look like when Brodie Croyle is leading the offense: defeated.
There is no way this “young, developing” team can survive another right cross to the chin and that’s exactly what a repeat of last week’s disaster would deliver.
To make a long point longer, no, the Kansas City Chiefs should not think for one second about giving Matt Cassel an additional week of rest if the Chargers lose to the 49ers. As Todd Haley likes to point out, this is the fourth quarter of the season and his team needs to act with a special sort of urgency no matter what the teams around them are doing.