Round No. 1 QB Controversy Goes To Palko

From Soldier Field, Chicago

Throughout most of the week leading up to Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears, Tyler Palko had extra baggage he was carrying through practices, meetings and film study.

It was all from last Sunday night, and the four turnovers that killed any chance the Chiefs had of beating Pittsburgh. Plus, there were the three interceptions he threw in his first NFL start in New England.

“When you are a quarterback and you are responsible for those turnovers in the first two games, it stings deep down in your gut,” said Palko. “You have to live with that for the whole week and continue to practice and try to get better and show the guys that you’re unfazed by it. It stings. You basically have the weight of the world on your shoulders when you don’t play well.”

Against the Bears, Palko shed some of that weight. Getting his third NFL start, Palko picked up his first victory in leading the Chiefs to a 10-3 decision in Chicago. It was not a sterling performance in any fashion for Palko, but he got the victory, he put a touchdown on the board, and more importantly, he did not turn the ball over.

And this was all done in the shadow of the addition of Kyle Orton and his presence as a potential replacement. The quarterbacks basically split snaps during three practices, leaving little doubt in any one’s mind that Orton was going to get some playing time, whether he started the game or not.

“If you let it, I guess it could be a distraction, but there are too many things that I need to worry about,” Palko said. This is the NFL; no one cares about your feelings. The bottom line is that you have to win football games. My job is to execute when I’m in there and that’s how I’ve always taken it. You need to set your ego aside on things like that.”

Orton did get in the game, but his stay was short. The Chiefs had a 2nd-and-10 at the start of the second quarter when he ran onto the field to take Palko’s place. The play called was a flea-flicker, where Orton handed off to RB Thomas Jones, who stopped and then lateraled back to Orton. His throw went deep down the left side and was nowhere near connecting with a receiver as Orton ended up with Chicago’s pass rushing S Major Wright in his lap.

When Orton got off the ground, he immediately held up the index finger on his right hand and started walking towards the sidelines. It looked like he was claiming No. 1 status, but the finger was obviously dislocated.

“I don’t know how it happened,” Orton said after the game. “It just popped out. It was bad luck.”

Replay shows he could have banged it against the right shoulder of Wright, or it may have happened when Orton fell backwards after he was hit. His hand and finger appeared to hit the ground first, with all his weight and momentum landing there.

Either way it was ugly. Trainer Dave Price popped the finger back into place, which is painful to watch, let alone have it happen to you. After that, he was declared out of the game.

“I don’t know if I could have gone back in; you’re going to have to ask them,” said Orton. “I was pretty sore.”

And he was unable to grip the football, thus his day was over.

“We had some things that we wanted to think about doing with him,” said head coach Todd Haley. “We had a little plan, in addition to having him ready to play. We weren’t making a quarterback change, so to speak. I want to strategically be careful about what I saw. But I felt good about both guys being prepared to play and get the job done.”

Will Orton be available against the New York Jets next Sunday? “Right now I don’t have much to give you,” said Haley.

By the time the game was over, Palko had completed 17 of 30 passes for 157 yards and the Hail Mary TD pass that proved to be the game’s only touchdown. That’s a 56.7 completion percentage, an average of just 5.2 yards per attempt and 9.2 yards per completion. But there was growth from Palko. He was sacked twice early, but then used his legs to get away from pressure, while not taking off and running when he felt pressure. He went on the move with some bootleg passes. He missed fired on some passes, but almost every one of those was long or high and thus far from being picked off.

Depending on Orton’s availability, Palko faces another week of competing for practice snaps, or he’s back in the No. 1 seat for this Sunday’s game in the Meadowlands.

“You have to earn the right to put your hands underneath center in this league,” Palko said. “If that’s on a week-by-week basis then that’s how it’s going to be. It’s a privilege to put your hands under center; it’s not a right. You just have to keep forging ahead and pushing in practice and see what happens on Sundays.”

4 Responses to “Round No. 1 QB Controversy Goes To Palko”

  • December 5, 2011  - bhive01 says:

    That’s a pretty expensive finger he’s got there.

    I would have liked to see what he could have done. If he hadn’t been rushed, I wonder if he would have made that throw. He’s certainly got a bit of arm. Palko did alright this week, but the offense overall needs to get more points on the board if we’re to get to 0.500 this year.

  • December 5, 2011  - Rick says:

    What happened to Orton yesterday is fitting in light of how this season has gone. Jeeze.

    I’m torn on what we should do next year. On the one hand I wouldn’t mind drafting one of the supposed top tier QB’s in the draft. But then again signing Orton and letting him fight it out with Cassel in training camp makes some sense too.

    If we stick with what we have at the QB position, we could look at linemen in the first round. Should be able to get a good player as high as we’ll be drafting.


  • December 5, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    Palko’s football I.Q. is upper 1%. If that guy could get his body to do what his brain is telling him, we’d have our QB. Unfortunately……

    He’s going to be a damn good coach. I hope he can manage the games without turnovers for the games he plays. I would love to see Stanzi, but as long as they are winning and if Orton is out, I’ll be pulling for Palko. Hard not to.

  • December 5, 2011  - cychief24 says:

    Our best OT is now playing for the Chargers at LT.

    Pioli/Haley have lost my respect as talent evaluators between keeping Palko on the roster at all with his HS arm and now cutting Gaither w/o giving him a chance to play.

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