There’s nothing in Matt Cassel’s football background that could possibly prepare him for what he’s faced this season as the Chiefs quarterback. There may be nothing in the background of any quarterback, past or present, that could be proper training for what is rapidly approaching history.
The situation got worse for the Chiefs in Sunday’s 26-16 loss to Oakland, their sixth consecutive loss to the Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium. Starter Brady Quinn was knocked out of the game with a possible concussion, so the Chiefs had to go back to Cassel.
Cassel over the last three games has himself been sent to the sideline with a possible concussion, had that misfortune cheered by at least some fans at Arrowhead, was benched in favor of Quinn and then was reinstated as quarterback of a team that went 12 quarters without scoring an offensive touchdown until Cassel threw 10 yards to Dexter McCluster for a score in the fourth quarter on Sunday.
The Chiefs trailed early on Sunday and briefly tied the game late in the first half before falling behind for good. Despite being 1-6, they haven’t led during a game, the first time that’s happened through seven games since 1940, according to the CBS telecast.
Now, in all likelihood, he’ll have to lead one of history’s most forlorn teams through a short week and into Thursday night’s game against the Chargers in San Diego.
That appears to be a hopeless prospect but Cassel, publicly at least, declared himself up to the challenge.
“I don’t think like that,’’ Cassel said when asked whether the Chiefs were just plain cursed this season. “I’m a positive person. As hard as it is, we have to turn the page. San Diego is going to be here before we know it. It’s going to be Thursday night and we’re going to be playing.
“There is a lot of football season left. The one thing I don’t this group or any of us are ready to do is give up. That’s not even in our vocabulary. So we’re going to continue to go out there, work hard, fix the things we need to fix and hopefully we’ll finally get a different result.’’
But that prospect continues to look even bleaker with each passing week. The Chiefs committed another four turnovers Sunday with Cassel being responsible for a fumble and an interception. That gives him 16 turnovers in the six games he’s played.
That’s 25 turnovers for the Chiefs this season, the most through seven games since New Orleans coughed it up 28 times in 1997.
Even Cassel acknowledged he’s never been part of a season where so many things have gone this wrong.
“I’ve said this before and I know it sounds like a cliché, but I’m going to be the same guy,’’ Cassel said. “I’m going to continue to work hard. I’m going to prepare and be diligent about what I do. At the same time, we as a team -- again I’m going to say this over and over -- we do a lot of good things out there but we’ve got to quit shooting ourselves in the foot. We’ve got to quit making mistakes, and until we get that stuff cleaned up, (this) is going to be the result.’’
Cassel’s fumble came when he couldn’t handle a snap from center Ryan Lilja, the second time that’s happened this season.
“That should be the easiest play in football,’’ he said.
Coach Romeo Crennel said he wasn’t sure who would be the quarterback against the Chargers. He said the job would be Quinn’s if he’s healthy enough to play, though that seemed unlikely.
“First of all, we have to see about Brady and what his situation is and whether he can go or not,’’ Crennel said. “Then we’ll evaluate Matt and his situation and also we’ll evaluate (Ricky) Stanzi.
“I’m not ruling out anybody. I have to look at everybody. I know time is a constraint that I have to work under, but the first thing that has to be done is to see where Brady is. If he’s not available, then I need to see about the other two and then make a decision.’’
Cassel took some big hits Sunday, including one where he was thrown violently to the ground by Oakland’s Richard Seymour. He stayed in the game, but there’s some doubt whether he will be available against the Chargers.
“Anytime a guy takes a hit like that, even though they show some toughness by getting up and playing, they do have to come in and see the trainers and see what they have to say,’’ Crennel said. “He has to be evaluated like everybody else who gets nicked up.’’