Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley has been beating the “Tyler Palko is our starter” drum for most of the week now.
But should we believe him?
Haley is suffering daily questions from reporters about who his starter will be. He keeps saying that “Palko is the starter” but he also keeps saying that the team is getting Kyle Orton ready to play as fast as possible.
“Like I said Monday, Tyler [Palko] is our starter; we are getting Kyle [Orton] ready to play,” Haley told reporters yesterday. “He’s not like a guy that’s been here for a couple of years. It’s a different situation that way so we are getting him ready to play. 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 and then the week after this it’ll be a similar deal.”
So is Haley just saying that Palko is the starter for now so that Palko will keep working hard? After all, it would be kind of disheartening if you were Palko, and Haley was at the podium raving about Orton and Palko has been benched for a guy who has been with the team for under two weeks. Might that send a bad message to the team?
Haley is fond of saying that he will always “play the players that give us the best chance to win.” I believe him. I don’t think he is always right about the players that give the team the best chance to win (see Jones, Thomas, Williams, Demorrio and Mays, Corey) but I do think he has shown he isn’t afraid to bench a guy for someone who is playing better.
We know Haley is concerned with his players thinking they are getting a fair shake. Remember when he first arrived in KC he was trying to convince everyone that Tyler Thigpen actually had a chance to beat out Cassel for the starting job. That is just how Haley rolls.
If I had to guess, right now, I’d say Palko starts the game in Chicago but that Orton definitely plays. The fact that the QBs are splitting snaps in practice leads me to believe that while the Chiefs probably want Orton to start, they don’t believe there is enough time, even if he takes 100% of the snaps, to get him ready in time. My hunch is that they are preparing Orton with a very limited and very specific set of plays. A group of mostly passes that Orton can master this week but not enough plays that he could run that game plan all game long because the Bears would eventually start seeing repetition.
That means Haley needs Palko as well because Palko has a much greater grasp on the playbook. Since Palko is a risk throwing the football, the Chiefs may send him in on lead drives that rely a little more heavily on the runs and simple screens. The Chiefs have a lot of creative running plays that use misdirection to make up for their depressing lack of Jamaal Charles. Learning all of this might be a little too much for Orton at the moment.
Tyler Palko has demonstrated a pretty cool head and he seems to run the offense pretty well in the huddle. He is getting the team up to the line quickly and efficiently. He just lacks the ability to throw the ball down field without being a major risk.
Rather than overloading Orton and setting him up for failure or sending Palko out there on third and long to throw interceptions, perhaps Haley’s plan is to split the difference.
Haley is a creative guy. An offensive guy. He is smart enough to know that his job is probably on the line. Who is to say he won’t bust out Wild Cat runs with the athletic Palko and deep bombs with Orton?
This may be the game Haley pulls out all the stops. This is just a hunch, but in a season as strange as this, anything is possible.
What do you think, Addicts? Will we see a trick-tastic offense Sunday featuring Palko and Orton or just one or the other?