A Sensible Move … Turkey Day Cup O’ Chiefs

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The Chiefs addition of QB Kyle Orton to their roster through the league’s waiver wire really comes down to mathematics:

  • Kyle Orton’s starts in the NFL – 66.
  • Combined starts for Chiefs QBs Tyler Palko and Ricky Stanzi – 1.

It was a move the Chiefs had to make after losing starting quarterback Matt Cassel for the rest of the season. If they don’t make the move it’s a sign they’ve thrown in the towel on the 2011 season and there’s no hint or evidence that’s the case or will be the case. Winning means too much to simply give up with six games to play.

There was no guarantee that by putting in a waiver claim they were going to be awarded Orton. But they had to put their card in the hat and when it got pulled out ahead of the Bears and Cowboys, it was a good thing for the 2011 Chiefs.

Orton is not a great or franchise-type quarterback. His record as a starting quarterback is 32-34. He was 20-13 with the Bears before they sent him to Denver in the trade for Jay Cutler. With the Broncos, Orton was 12-21 as a starter.

So 32-34, that’s a .485 winning percentage, with 79 career touchdown passes and 55 interceptions. That’s a 79.4 passer rating.

For comparison, Cassel has started 55 games, with a 28-27 record, .509 winning percentage with 76 touchdown passes and 45 interceptions. That’s a 82.5 passer rating.

Essentially there’s not a lot of difference between Orton and Cassel at this point in their careers.

But then, this is not a long-term move. Orton is a free agent after this season and here at the end of November, it appears doubtful that the Chiefs would desire to re-sign him if Cassel is still around and his hand is completely healed.

There’s debate on just how much in salary the claim will cost the Chiefs. Some reports peg his unpaid balance at $2.58 million. Other reports say it’s $1.5 million that’s still due Orton. Either number is irrelevant to anybody but the Chiefs accountants and the IRS. The team has more than enough room under this year’s salary cap to absorb either number, and if there was hesitation about signing an experienced quarterback in this situation because of money, then there would be no chance for free agency to help rebuild this team.

Yes, there are other veteran quarterbacks on the free agent market that could have been brought in. But consider the names – Daunte Culpepper, Marc Bulger, Todd Bouman and the like. Orton has played this year. He lost his starting job to a football freak in Tim Tebow.

If there are any real questions about the move, it would be this – what took them so long? Why did GM Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley think they could get through the 2011 season without a backup quarterback with at least some NFL starting experience?

A defending division champion – which the Chiefs were last year and a team that’s coming off a trip to the playoffs, should never go to training camp with only one of three quarterbacks that had actually started a game in the NFL. That Cassel was going to pick up an injury during the season was inevitable. He did in 2009 and he did in 2010. Those were not serious injuries, but they cost him a start each time.

An inexperienced starter like Palko might work as a one-game band-aid. The minute Cassel was placed on the injured-reserve list the Chiefs had to make a move. Had that move been made in training camp, that experienced quarterback would have been in the offense for more than three months.

Do the Chiefs now have a quarterback controversy? That will depend entirely on Tyler Palko and what he does with his second start this coming Sunday night against the Steelers. If Palko shows improvement and if he can somehow drag improvement out of his offensive mates, Orton’s spot will be on the sidelines next to rookie Ricky Stanzi.

But having him there will make the Chiefs a better team for the next six weeks.

19 Responses to “A Sensible Move … Turkey Day Cup O’ Chiefs”

  • November 24, 2011  - bhive01 says:

    Bob, Happy Turkey day to you and yours. I hope your harvest this year was bountiful.

    RE: Orton, I agree that it was a good move. If he were to be put as the starter how long from today’s practice would he be on the sideline before playing.

    Shame about Keary, although, we’ve got 3 quality WRs right now and he was unlikely to see much play time in the near future. Can’t blame the guy for coming back and getting on the field again.

  • November 24, 2011  - Warner says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Bob. Appreciate your reporting and insight. Thank you.

  • November 24, 2011  - ED J says:

    Qb controversy Cassel with Palko Lmao. I got better chance of making this team than Palko does in creating Qb controversy. Bottom line Bob the guys that were available in offseason werent any better than Palko was the problem. And the ones that were better wasnt coming here to backup Cassel. Guys like Hasselback or Alex Smith wasnt coming here. Neither was Garrard his agent said he wanted to start.

  • November 24, 2011  - Tenand6 says:


    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Much appreciation for all your hard work and great insights.

  • November 24, 2011  - Milkman says:

    It remains to be seen if this was a good move. If It would have been 2 more games into the season and we had 2 more losses, the division championship would not have been a factor. With nothing to lose, we could have inserted Stanzi in the line-up and seen what he could do with the first team. Then we would know if we need to spend a first round pick on a quarterback next April. It is good though to see they are still trying to win this year. I just think even after bringing Orton in there are just too many holes for that to be realistic.

  • November 24, 2011  - RW says:

    I wouldn’t be too fast to dismiss Orton at the end of the year, especially if he shows well these final half dozen games. Cassel needs competition and pushing from another QB capable of taking his job. Let’s see how this plays out, literally.

  • November 24, 2011  - Tim says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Bob! I agree this is a short-term move. The primary question you’ve posed is indeed the right one: what took them so long? Palko clearly is not the caliber of QB (talent-wise) that can get it done. He simply doesn’t have the arm which causes teams to crowd the line & suffocate us. If the opponent makes a mistake, maybe he’ll be able to take advantage, otherwise forget it. They should’ve had an experienced backup to Cassel this season to allow Stanzi to learn…

  • November 24, 2011  - el cid says:

    This may have been the sharpest move Chiefs management has made since signing Pioli and, guess what, Orton does not have to step on the field.

    It returns to the fans the thing missing since the bad playoff run of last year, hope. This team with bad move, lockout, crazy plan training period, injuries with no replacement bodies, questionable coaching, and fan anger with Hunt, Pioli, and everyone but the water boy. All that is on the back burner because the Chiefs got a free agent to show us the rest of the season was not a french battle plan. Brilliant, plain brilliant.

  • November 24, 2011  - Dave71 says:

    I am still not at all sold on Cassel as the QB who can lead us far into the playoffs, let alone the super bowl. He is too inconsistent and TOO INACCURATE with alot of his throws. Very rarely hits a deep ball. I think Orton, even though he has had mixed results as a starter, is a better pure passer. The thing that worries me most about the chiefs, and i dont know how the rest of you feel, is that after 2-1/2 supposed years of drafts & rebuilding we still have a pretty fair amount of holes to fill before we can be really up there with the great teams. (GB, PITTS.,etc.)WE have major questions at QB, OL, & DL, and also major depth issues.

  • November 24, 2011  - johnfromfairfax says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Bob to you and your family. Although you don’t need us telling you that your analysis is spot on I will say it anyway. This was a good move any way you slice it (unless of course you want to see the team struggle and fail). Orton is no savior and not even a replacement for Cassel but is a good get for this year and we’ll see how it goes from there. I hate to disappoint the haters, suck for Luckers and others but I would put my money on Cassel being back as our starter next year regardless of who in the stands and cyberspace doesn’t like him. I saw his struggles and mistakes like the rest of you but he had a much better season last year with less talent. I just don’t think it’s fair to put it on him for this years debacle with the weakness on the line and lack of a defense to keep us in games. We fell behind to a ridiculous degree game after game when we were ineffective on both sides of the ball. That took us out of our game plan in most games and set up an impossible situation given what we are as a team. Just one man’s opinion. Have a safe and restful happy Thanksgiving to everyone in Chiefs nation.

  • November 24, 2011  - david says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Bob and everyone. Time will tell if it is a good move or not. If the Chief lose these next 4 games as expected though they have to give Stanzi a chance to play and see what he has. There are to many qb’s in this years draft class not to know if Stanzi is a starter or backup in the league. IMO Cassell is not the answer

  • November 24, 2011  - aPauled says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Bob and bobgretz.com fans. I like this move as opposed to cashing in the season. That could have set the franchise back another couple of years.

    Orton may not be the savior, but he is every bit the QB that Matt Cassel is. Hopefully, Orton comes in and makes a tough decision for the Chiefs next year. Cassel clearly regressed this year in addition to (not just because of) the OL and running game. We can’t go into the next year of turning this around without some QB competition and improved QB play.

  • November 24, 2011  - Niblick says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to Bob and all the fans on this website. I think this is a very good short term move. This move has nothing to do with whether Orton is better than Cassell. It’s about Orton being better than Palko and Stanzi. The move may not amount to any more wins but at least the Chiefs have not given up on this season. I think it’s a win /win situation for the Chiefs. He’s pretty costly for six games but so many on this site says Hunt and Pioli won’t spend money. This shows that they will spend in the right situation.

  • November 24, 2011  - ED J says:

    Agreed apauled. I would be all for bringing in Orton if he plays well when he get his chance. If he plays at good level and we win few games I’m all for it. If he sucks then we need to give Ricky a chance to start at least 3 games this season. Serioulsy like some of you said no need going into next yr draft and not know if Stanzi is someone that can push Cassel for starting position next yr and maybe drafting left tackle. If he flames out as well at least we know and maybe we can get a Matt Barkley, Jones, or my fav RG3 (Robert Griffin III), either way at least we’re interesting and that’s going make next few games fun.

  • November 24, 2011  - cychief24 says:

    Joe Montana couldn’t survive behind our O-line.

    Our draft needs haven’t changes from last year. RT, C, pass rusher, inside LB (or switch to the 4-3), in that order.
    We have a QB that has already gotten us to the playoffs. Can he win a playoff game? Not with the 4 gaping holes I mentioned.
    What you haters are missing is why isn’t Clark/Pioli building the Chiefs the Patriot way? It must be more important to stay $30 million under the cap than to sign competent mid-range free agents to fill the 4 holes we all agree upon. In addition we have 3 star players go down at the beginning of the season and yet do nothing to replace those important players. NOTHING.

    Orton was signed to sell tickets and limit the no shows.

  • November 24, 2011  - chewbone says:

    Bob if I remember right Cassell is due a pretty heft bonus. Maybe Orton serves as important leverage? Cassell for sure doesn’t deserve any big $$$’s.

    Also if Orton doesn’t report he is out the remaining dollars on his contract and the Chiefs get nothing as well, right?

  • November 24, 2011  - Niblick says:

    Most of Cassell’s guaranteed money has been paid. I heard we have paid him 42MM of the 62MM of the six year contract. Most of his guaranteed money of 30MM has also beeen paid. If Orton does not
    report he does not get the 2.5MM for the remainder of this contract.

  • November 24, 2011  - Chuck says:

    I think the move cries of “desperation” to win a couple of games out of the final 6. Really dumb and expensive move.

  • November 24, 2011  - cychief24 says:

    If our QB situation isn’t desperate for the rest of the season how would you define it? Palko is awful and Stanzi can’t beat him out.

    When you’re $30 million under the cap $2.5 is nothing.
    If Clark/Pioli hadn’t made this move they would have made it obvious they have given up on this season.

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