Romeo Crennel doesn't like quarterback controversies.
So why did he create one?
The Kansas City Chiefs coach announced this week that Matt Cassel had been cleared to return to non-contact practice work with the team after missing a week because of a concussion. In doing so, Crennel made sure everyone understood that Cassel and last week's starter, Brady Quinn, would split the snaps in practice during the bye week.
"What I've told them is I'm rotating the quarterbacks," Crennel said. "They will get equal reps; both will work with the first team."
Take a comment like that, add in two average to below-average quarterbacks and a 1-5 record, stir and presto -- quarterback controversy.
At this point of what is rapidly becoming a lost season for Crennel and the Chiefs, so what? Maybe a controversy at the game's most important position is the way to go? Coaches generally run as fast as they can away from quarterback controversy. At 1-5, Crennel is running full speed into one with his announcement.
"Cassel will get work, and then we'll evaluate it and next week we're going to get ready for game week, then we will make a decision and go from there," Crennel said.
Cassel and Quinn say they understand the situation and are prepared to continue to move forward.
"This is a time to evaluate everybody on the bye week, try some different things and see where we're at," Cassel said. "I'm going out there to get better each and every day and do what I need to do to get better."
At Tampa Bay on Sunday, Quinn got his first NFL start since December 2009. He understands the lay of the land with the No. 1 QB injured and ready to come back.
"Right now, everyone's just trying to get better on offense, and I think as a whole we feel like there are some things that we're leaving out there on the field that we want to try to be better at, regardless of who's in there," Quinn said.
Cassel admitted that he had a previous concussion, but none since he's been in the NFL. The fact he was cleared in one week for non-contact practice is an indication that his concussion wasn't particularly serious, if a blow to the head could ever be declared as not serious.
It's safe to say that 10 years ago when the NFL wasn't so intent on dealing with concussions, Cassel almost assuredly would have played last Sunday against Tampa Bay.
"The decision wasn't up to me; as a player, you always feel like you can play," Cassel said. "But the doctors and medical staff are there to protect you against yourself a lot of times. While I was frustrated with it, it is what it is, and I accepted that."
What Cassel spent the last week doing was taking test after test from doctors to gauge his recall, short-term and long-term memory, decision-making ability and reflexes.
"I've taken I don't know how many tests," said Cassel. "I've taken more tests this last week that I did all of college."
This Monday, if not sooner, Cassel will undergo more testing, and he should be cleared to resume full practice and playing time. That's when Crennel will have to make a decision whether to continue the quarterback controversy to the next step.
"I decide who plays, I decide who's active, I decide who is inactive," Crennel said. "I will evaluate the situation, and I will make the choice."
There's nothing like adding to a quarterback controversy another element: pressure from above on which quarterback should play. It's a legitimate question given the ties that bind general manager Scott Pioli and Cassel. Crennel insists he's the man who will make the decision, but not until there's a decision that must be made.
"When we get ready to play the game, then I'll make a decision, so that's next week," Crennel said "That's when we play."
A quarterback controversy occurs when a team does not have a dominant performer at the position.
Crennel has seen that before. When he was head coach in Cleveland, Crennel had a very mediocre collection of quarterbacks. In four seasons, six different quarterbacks started games for the Browns: Derek Anderson (27), Charlie Frye (19), Trent Dilfer (11), Ken Dorsey (three), Brady Quinn (three) and Bruce Gradkowski (one).
"It's distracting because everybody is wondering who the guy is going to be and those things," Crennel said. "Then what happens is some guys on the team kind of favor one guy over the other guy, even though everybody has a job to do, and they will do their job. It's a distraction."
How much of a distraction the whole thing becomes for the Chiefs is up to Crennel. What he sees and what the quarterbacks show him in practice should make the decision on the starting quarterback for the Oakland Raiders game on Oct. 28.