The League

Jim McCormick
Blitz Magazine Publisher

Jim McCormick

The editor and publisher of Blitz Magazine

Atlanta Redux?

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In an increasingly fantasy football-driven climate, perception can change in just a few weeks in the NFL.

Despite a sorry record under center for the Chiefs last season, Tyler Thigpen went from a league-wide joke to a respected and gutsy scrambler. LaDainian Tomlinson's reputation as the league's premier tailback eroded despite posting 1,600 total yards and 12 touchdowns. The difference in perception of these two players mirrors the difference in expectations placed on them both in real and fantasy contexts.

Thanks to an inspired late stretch of elite play no player's stock improved as much this past season as Matt Cassel's. From career backup to celebrated starter in just a matter of months, the question remains whether his productivity was the result of being in New England's fertile offensive system or if his talent is truly transcendent.

While Cassel showed considerable mobility and moxie in leading the New England offense, the reality is that he was given the keys to a Ferrari. Sure, it takes talent to drive one well, but let's not discount the engineering. Forgive the murky details of how Cassel landed in Kansas City and instead consider how difficult this transition will be for the relatively unproven QB.

When a quarterback, whether a Canton-bound vet or a recent upstart, goes from a team that has two Pro Bowl wideouts, a solid offensive line and a brilliant schemer like Bill Belichick to a team that has won 21 fewer games the past two seasons, is home to a patchwork offensive line and has overseen a massive personnel and identity overhaul, isn't a precipitous drop-off for that signal-caller to be expected?

Then again, we must also consider the impact of the renovation we witnessed in Atlanta last season that saw them dramatically turn their fortunes around. Legitimate contention is undoubtedly years away for the Arrowhead faithful, but with talented and capable targets in Dwayne Bowe and Tony Gonzalez and an offensive guru heading the team in Todd Haley, it's not absurd to expect Cassel to help restore the Chiefs to competence.

By Jim McCormick  |  March 2, 2009; 11:42 PM ET  | Category:  Kansas City Chiefs , New England Patriots , Quarterbacks Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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