Kansas City's vertical worry

Matt Cassel has always struggled to throw the deep ball effectively. Thomas Campbell/US Presswire

There is an old football adage that says getting to the top of the mountain is a lot easier than staying there. Just ask Chiefs fans.

In the history of the Kansas City Chiefs, other than a six-year playoff stretch in the 1990s, the team has made the playoffs in consecutive seasons only once.

The reason many of those earlier Chiefs clubs failed to repeat as playoff teams is that they had aging rosters built for short-term success. But that's what they face now coming off a 10-6 season.

The current Kansas City team looks to be a good candidate to break this trend, having taken the opposite approach and stockpiling young talent. Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Derrick Johnson, Eric Berry, Brandon Flowers and Tamba Hali are all quality players at their respective positions, and are all 28 years of age or younger.

But as much as their youthful talent level will work towards a repeat playoff berth, there is one significant weakness that could keep the Chiefs out of the 2011 postseason: Matt Cassel's inability to complete long passes.