Just Barely A QB Controversy … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

It might be one of the most unusual quarterback controversies in the NFL over the last decade.

Just three weeks ago Tyler Palko and Kyle Orton were mired in very similar situations with very different teams. Palko was with the Chiefs and he couldn’t get on the field because the snaps all belonged to starter Matt Cassel. Orton was with the Denver Broncos and he couldn’t get on the field because the snaps all belonged to the greatest phenomenon in recent NFL history, Tim Tebow.

On November 13, that all changed. Cassel broke his right hand and Tebow led the Broncos to a victory over the Chiefs. A day later, Orton asked the Broncos for his release and Palko became the Chiefs starter.

Now on the first day of the new month, Palko and Orton are together, splitting the snaps with the first team offense and essentially in a competition for the last five quarterback starts of the 2011 Chiefs season.

“Tyler is our starter; we are getting Kyle ready to play,” Haley said again on Wednesday. “Kyle’s not like a guy that’s been here for a couple of years. He might have to play and he might not, but we’ve got to get ready to win a big game. We’ve got to do it by whatever means possible and if it takes playing three quarterbacks and going wildcat 20 plays, we’ve got to do that. Then the week after this, it’ll be a similar deal.”

Palko has the edge despite his 0-2 record as a starter and his seven turnovers that were such important factors in both defeats. Orton will get his second full practice on Thursday, and while there is ground to make up, his 66 previous starts for the Bears and Broncos allow him to catch on very quickly.

“For me it’s a race to see how fast I can understand the nuances and little difference of this offense,” Orton said after Wednesday’s practice. “I’ll go in and do my role as best I can, whatever that role is. I don’t make the decision on whether I play or not, I just go out and prepare and try to play well on the practice field.”

The chore for Orton is two-pronged: he not only must learn the offense, but he must learn his new teammates. One doesn’t work well without the other, and learning the playbook is the easy part.

“It’s the ability to understand the offense number one, and how we speak in the huddle, how we speak at the line of scrimmage,” Haley said. “A smart guy like Kyle, that game plan is something that he probably had close to memorized and figured out here pretty quick. Even if you know the game plan and how the runs and passes go together, again that’s not the issue.

“He has to understand his personnel because that’s always a little bit of a trick. It’s getting in sync with the guys you’re playing with and as we’ve seen that’s a difficult task around the league. Anytime you see some of these new guys step in, especially new guys that haven’t been around the team that they are on, it takes some time to get a feel for what guys do well

“It’s very, very important. It’s not something that just happens overnight. All these quarterbacks have the ability to throw the football. It just comes down to where the ball needs to be and who responds to what type of throws, and how this halfback runs our strong-side zone play. They’re all a little different and it takes time.

“Understanding the personnel as a quarterback I think is a critical, critical factor to being successful and understanding what each and every one on your team, their strengths and weaknesses, and that includes everybody on offense. That’s one of the more difficult things. There’s the center-quarterback exchange; each center is different. Those are all different variables. Each halfback, fullback is different, all of those things come into play and makes for a pretty difficult job, especially for somebody that’s coming into a new situation with all new variables.

“He’s a bright guy, he’s on it and I don’t think learning it will be an issue.”

But the question the media and fans want answered is whether or not Orton will play on Sunday against the Bears.

“It’s a great challenge to integrate any player into your system, let alone a quarterback in a short amount of time and have him in a position to play football or run the offense for you,” Haley said. “We’ve got to have him ready to go in any capacity.”

As for Palko, he continued on the same course that he’s driven the last five years of knocking around the league, trying to find an opportunity to get on the field and play the position that’s been his dream.

“I was the practice-squad quarterback, the third-string guy who didn’t dress, the backup and the starter for the last two weeks,” Palko said. “I was never a silver spooner who the job was ever handed to me. It’s one of those things where you have to keep fighting. There are things that I can’t control right now. I have enough to worry about as far as continuing to try and to get better every day in practice and try to focus on what the coaches are asking me to do and really try to execute the game plan. All that other excess stuff on the outside I can’t really worry about that, I don’t have enough time.”

But Palko was a starting quarterback for seven years in high school and college, so he knows where he stands with Chiefs fans at this point of the season.

“Other than probably having a lot of people in Kansas City that are mad at me for turning the ball over seven times, I really haven’t changed that much,” Palko said. “There’s a sick feeling in your gut because you know you didn’t give your team the best chance to win turning the ball over that many times. It’s a learning experience and you just have to continue learning from it.”

Tyler Palko is the starter; Kyle Orton the backup – but neither of those roles is chiseled into stone. They could change at any moment.

That has all the makings of a quarterback controversy.

16 Responses to “Just Barely A QB Controversy … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • December 1, 2011  - RW says:

    What controversy? Or did I miss something with Palko and all his INTs and turnovers the last couple of weeks? Maybe Haley sees something most of us do not in Palko? Maybe then, does Haley have a death wish? Because that’s where his choice of riding this flawed horse into another week of the season seems to be gathering steam.

    Then there’s the plays that can’t get in on time, poor clock management, communication issues abound and, and, these Chiefs are a Godawful mess.

  • December 1, 2011  - Tim says:

    If Carson Palmer can do it, Orton can. Haley may be right citing all these things he does, but its all bs. What we know, is that Palko turns the ball over & has no arm. Does he make some throws – of course he does…just not nearl enough good ones. You play Orton at the first sign of trouble from Palko, otherwise all the talk about being in it is crap. Then he could likely compound his (Haley’s) mistake by playing Orton the rest of the year instead of getting Stanzi some playing time once we’re out of it.

  • December 1, 2011  - ED J says:

    Agreed. Tim. I think Haley is having his coach speak. Not wanting to tip his hand in who he is starting to Bears. But i must agree.Tim if we are out it after next 2 or 3 games I think its important to get Stanzi on the field get him some reps and evaluate him

  • December 1, 2011  - ED J says:

    I do think Orton will start. We are not paying him 2.5 mill to ride the bench

  • December 1, 2011  - aPauled says:

    Orton played with Wiegmann in Denver in 2009. They have probably had more center snaps than Palko/Wiegmann. Worst case they fumble an exchange…Palko’s done that.

    Orton may throw an interception because he doesn’t read the Receivers…Palko’s done that…numerous times.

    Orton may not get a handoff in the ideal spot….not rocket science and he’s handed off to many RBs in his career.

    Orton may not know the personnel/packages. Not really his job…Muir/Haley have to ensure the right guys are on the field for the play…just do your jobs.

    I just don’t see the downside here or what advantage Palko’s “experience” brings.

  • December 1, 2011  - Ernie Barney says:

    As Len Dawson commented to Haley at the end of their post Steelers game interview: “You dont need more lessons you need victories”. Well said Lenny!!

  • December 1, 2011  - Niblick says:

    I sure hope that starting Palko is just coaches talk, and that he will start Orton. I just don’t see any downside on starting Orton. He doesn’t have to know the whole offense. If Pioli has any doubts about keeping Haley, I would think playing Palko would be the final straw. I think Haley is probably gone regardless.

  • December 1, 2011  - Chuck says:

    I think EdJ above sums it up quite well. Don’t know why Haley likes to play these little games with the media.

  • December 1, 2011  - rufus says:

    expect to see all three QB’s this week – Palko, Orton & Arenas. heh.

  • December 1, 2011  - cychief24 says:

    This has to be coachspeak about Palko starting. I agree with most above there is no down side to playing Orton. As far as Stanzi…he can’t beat out pitiful Palko, enough said.

  • December 1, 2011  - ED J says:

    Stanzi didn’t play Sunday due to being injured. Mitch Holthes mentioned it yesterday on between the lines. And 610 Nick Wright confirmed it on his radio station and on his twitter page here’s the link: https://twitter.com/#!/getnickwright/status/140859014539001857

  • December 1, 2011  - ED J says:

    So cychief before you just go blabbing off that Stanzi wasn’t good enough to beat the guy out don’t assume do your homework.

  • December 2, 2011  - cychief24 says:

    “Interesting developments for the #Chiefs… Orton not expected to suit up tonight, but Stanzi hurt his ankle in practice this week…
    27 Nov via web”

    There’s your twitter edj- can you read? It says hurt his ankle in practice THIS WEEK. So why couldn’t your boy boy Stanzi beat out pitiful Palko all year long?
    Feel free to spend 2-3 posts “blabbing” your dvr delayed answer.

  • December 3, 2011  - ED J says:

    cychief24 aka mattcassel lil brother#07 I’m no longer entertaining you stupidity. I know you have man crush on Cassel we all know that. And you the same cat spreading rumors about Stanzi couple months ago about what your boy heard about Stanzi. So nothing I’m going to say about him going convince you. So its a waste. What I will say is everyone know Palko got 2nd job because he was here last yr we didnt have training camp or OTAs so Chiefs staff went with more experienced guy not the more talented guy.

  • December 3, 2011  - el cid says:

    OUCH!! A little civility please. Remember the Chiefs may have reached the level of drunk living in the gutter but we can conduct ourselves at a level of common courtesy toward each other, Santa’s keeping any eye on you, lots of coal coming to KC.

  • December 3, 2011  - cychief24 says:

    Congrats on keeping your name calling insulting response to a single post ;)

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