Long Wait Ending For Palko … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

It’s not that Tyler Palko has a bad memory.

Not at all. He can tell you that his West Allegheny High School team beat Montour 7-6 in his first high school start as a freshman.

But he can’t tell you anything about his first college start at the University of Pittsburgh, other than the opponent and stadium. He left that game with a concussion.

“It was at Heinz Field against Ohio U.,” Palko said Monday afternoon in the Chiefs locker room, surrounded by the Kansas City media horde. “I wish I could give you details, but I do not remember much about that game.”

It was September 11, 2004 and the Panthers ended up getting a 24-3 victory. As a redshirt sophomore, Palko started and completed six of 19 passes for 49 yards, with a 7-yard TD pass to Greg Lee and an interception.

Coming up on Monday night in Foxboro, Palko will make his first NFL start, replacing the injured Matt Cassel as the Chiefs face the New England Patriots on national prime-time television.

Chances are that if the Chiefs offense doesn’t improve its ability to protect the passer, Palko may find himself with a foggy memory after this game as well. But that’s not likely, given how long he’s waited for the chance that will come to him against the Patriots.

“I’m really close with Matt,” Palko said of the Chiefs starting QB with a right hand injury that will require surgery. “He’s meant a lot to me and helped me with my progress. You never like to see anybody go down like this, but it’s football. You have to be ready.”

Palko is ready. He was a four-year starting quarterback at West Allegheny, playing for his father Bob and earning All-America and Pennsylvania player of the year honors, along with a state championship. He landed at the University of Pittsburgh where in his final three seasons of eligibility, he started 35 games for the Panthers. The last one was in November 2006.

Since then, not a single start, including no starts in his stops on the rosters of the Saints, Cardinals, Steelers or Chiefs over the last five years.

His NFL stat line reads like this:

4 games played … 9 of 13 passing, for 82 yards … 0 TD passes, 0 interceptions … 3 rushes for 13 yards.

That’s it for five years and time with four franchises. But despite the lack of real game experience, Chiefs head coach Todd Haley expresses confidence in what Palko will be able to do stepping into the starting job.

“I think Tyler has a high, high football IQ,” Haley said. “He grew up in football. His father is a high school coach in western Pa. He’s a very competitive person and that translates into his quarterback ability. That competitiveness is a very good trait to have. He’s athletic and has the ability use his feet to make plays … it can increase your margin of error at times when you have an extremely athletic quarterback.

“I just think what we’ve seen since he’s been here is he’s got natural leadership ability. I think the guys, whether it’s the show team, or pre-season you recognize leadership ability. All those things are reasons why we are optimistic that we have the right guy in place to step in and get things done.”

Haley says that Palko’s stepping into the starting job for the first time in his career will not lead to a simplified offensive game plan. “He’s into football, he’s a great preparation guy, that you will find in here most of the time,” said Haley. “He’s a great resource whether on the practice field, or on the sideline during games.

“He’s left-handed, but I don’t foresee that will have to make major alterations to how we play. We will play to everybody’s strengths as best we can.”

As far as Palko is concerned, he’s anxious to roll into the facility on Tuesday and find out what the coaching staff has put together for this game.

“I can’t wait to see what the mad scientists come up with for New England,” Palko said. “They are all in there, they look like zombies, and they are in there from dark to dark.”

Will the circumstances of his first NFL start – on the road, Monday night, against a team like New England – be in any fashion intimidating for Palko?

“There’s so much that goes into playing quarterback to studying all week, to understanding what every guy has to do on every play, that in my mind I don’t have any time to think about it,” Palko said. “When we get up there and the lights are on, you will have a ‘wow this is really happening moment.’

“But there is so much for me to worry about right now; I don’t have time to think about stuff like that.”

12 Responses to “Long Wait Ending For Palko … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • November 15, 2011  - johnfromfairfax says:

    Ah yes, it’s all coming back to me. Is that New England coming up next or Moon Township? Strap em on Tyler, you’re wild ride is about to begin. Good luck and give it your best shot.

  • November 15, 2011  - Chuck says:

    Iam not anti-Chiefs by any means, but Iam now fully convinced that we finish the season 4-12 and picking somewhere around the 5th or 6th pick in the first round. Monday night will be ugly.

  • November 15, 2011  - Mike says:

    I’m 100% in agreement with your comments, Chuck. Also, Pioli’s 2012 draft will need to lights out if this club is to become a “real” contender, and he hasn’t shown an ability to do that in 2 of his 3 drafts with the Chiefs.

  • November 15, 2011  - aPauled says:

    Frankly, I feel a fresh breeze blowing thru with Palko at QB this week and some possibility of getting Stanzi on the field this season. Let’s face it we were going no where with Matt Cassel; Receivers weren’t good enough, Running game wasn’t good enough, OL wasn’t good enough. Some truth to all of those at times…but also true that Matt Cassel isn’t good enough because he needs a #1 receiving core, #1 running game, and #1 OL to succeed.

    Some ability to hide weaknesses (that every team has) has to come from the QB. Palko is more mobile, so he can roll out of pressure rather than sit in the pocket. At least on Sunday, he was making quick decisions and putting the ball on the money which hadn’t happened all day preceeding his appearance. I look foward to seeing what we have in Palko and later in the season what Stanzi brings and see if either can bring some life and consistency to this offense.

  • November 15, 2011  - James says:

    With Barry Richardson protecting your blindside, may the lord be with you.

  • November 15, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    I’m curious about Gaither not getting a chance to replace Richardson. When healthy, Gaither is a very good tackle.

  • November 15, 2011  - el cid says:

    I believe you will find Palko is more mobil because he will not stand in the face of pressure and with our OL, he will run for his life.

    Gaither is an interesting subject. What is wrong with him? He is getting a pay check, isn’t he? We agree we need help on the OL, yet he mostly stands on the sidelines, why?

  • November 15, 2011  - aPauled says:

    The Ravens listed Gaither’s injury as a “thoracic disc injury”. It apparently didn’t require surgery, but has been lingering for over a year now.

  • November 15, 2011  - harvey says:

    Tyler has a chance if he can throw a bootleg pass and finds that oft times rare pocket the oline makes. Probably gonna see a lot of blitzing and get the added bonus of having the opportunity to get acquainted with Mr Wilfork. That said, I am more concerned about our D. We have issues.

  • November 15, 2011  - ED J says:

    Im with you james this kid is dead in water with barry protectimg his blindside whatever Gaither health it will be better production than barry

  • November 15, 2011  - Johnfromwichita says:

    Look, I’m 68. If I was told that I had to play one quarter Monday night and I had a choice of right tackle or quarterback I pick RT. I can get out of harms way just as quickly as Richardson seems to. If I did get run over the guy might trip over me. Instant upgrade. As a QB my survial instinct would cause me to, getting the ball, to go down to a knee and sometimes I have a problem with GOING down to a knee. God help Tyler because his line probably won’t.

  • November 15, 2011  - el cid says:

    John bet your knees are as bad as mine. We can see and the heart, but not much left physically.

    Harvey, bootleg pass, huh? If you were OC, might work but not to sure the “bootleg” is in the Chiefs playbook. I expect a lot of handing off to whatever RB Haley throws out there, hopefully not McCluster.

    Afraid if Palko was the second coming, with the guys around him there is not much hope.

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