KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 12: Quarterback Tyler Palko #4 of the Kansas City Chiefs throws the ball down field against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half on August 12, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
This past week I have really been trying to get excited about the Kansas City Chiefs new starting quarterback for the Monday Night Football game against the New England Patriots. Truthfully, though, it has been pretty hard to do. I don't even really have anything against Tyler Palko. Heck, he was born on my birthday, that alone should make me proud of the guy (or at least want to root for him more.)
Yet, I haven't been anything but negative about the left handed gunslinger that we have affectionately come to know as "Calabaloo Falko." Mostly because he just doesn't yet seem like an NFL caliber quarterback to me. During the preseason his play was uninspired and I pretty much lost hope for the guy.
Thanks to the play of Jack(-ie) Battle this year, it has been hard to trust my own judgment when it comes to potential Chiefs. After the preseason, I thought Battle was a complete waste and needed to be cut immediately. Obviously, I was wrong about him and now it tells me that I need to do more research on Mr. Palko before I start acting like this is the worst thing to happen to the Chiefs since... well, since last Sunday (it was pretty bad.)
When I think about this whole situation, one question pops out in my mind. The question is kind of derived from the fact that Scott Pioli basically brought Matt Cassel with him from New England when he was hired. It is something that we have all probably talked about from time to time on this website and is probably in a recent fanpost/fanshot somewhere around here.
What if Tyler Palko has always been Todd Haley's choice?
It is not shocking to think that Matt Cassel was Scott Pioli's project. The Matt Cassel trade was one of defining moves in the Scott Pioli era here in Kansas City, along with hiring Todd Haley and drafting Tyson Jackson with the third overall pick in 2009. Those three things are his babies.
What we don't know, however, is how the business relationship between Scott Pioli and Todd Haley is actually going. Have they both been in semi-agreement with the Matt Cassel situation this whole time?
Is Tyler Palko really Todd's pet project?
2009 points to Todd Haley not really having his own quarterback project. Brodie Croyle was drafted by the previous regime and Matt Gutierrez was another former Patriot brought in by Pioli. Is this by design? Perhaps Todd Haley was firmly sold on being able to win with Matt Cassel at the helm the whole time?
On March 3, 2010 the Kansas City Chiefs signed Tyler Palko to a contract. To me, nothing about that Palko signing says Scott Pioli. Tyler is a bit on the short side, throws left handed, is slightly unorthodox and it just seems like Pioli threw his hands up and told Todd to pick a quarterback that he liked from the scrap pile.
All of this time, I had just thought that the Chiefs were keeping Palko around to have a left handed QB to practice against, like last Sunday's game against the Broncos. The problem with that theory is that they signed him before Tebow prayed his way into Denver's first round a couple of months later.
Maybe Todd recognized Palko's ability from watching all of that college tape while studying Larry Fitzgerald's game. Who knows? Regardless of how it happened, the Chiefs are in a situation in which Tyler Palko is now going to be the man in Kansas City.
Jim Zorn and sports radio-like speculation
Maybe Coach Haley really sees something in young Calabaloo Falko. Perhaps hiring Jim Zorn had more to do with teaching Tyler Palko than fixing Matt Cassel. Is that even a consideration?
That's a reach, but if you warp your mind like this...
In 2010, Todd Haley starts to really like Palko, Croyle and any other QB over Cassel. Because of this and other philosophical differences, Charlie Weis and Haley argue all of the time, which leads to Weis leaving to go to Florida at the end of the season to go coach his son. In the offseason, Pioli wants to hire Josh McDaniels to replace Weis (if you believe the reports) and continue to groom Matt Cassel. Haley wants Zorn. St. Louis hires McDaniels giving Haley his way before McDaniels has a shot. Pioli then agrees to hire Zorn, but only on the condition that Bill Muir is promoted to offensive coordinator. Once Muir is in as the play caller, Jim Zorn is hired a few days later.
All of that potential nonsense aside, Jim Zorn hasn't done great work with Matt Cassel this season that has actually shown up on gameday. However, what kind of influence has he had on Palko? Also, did Haley think that Zorn was the perfect fit for Palko?
As most of us know, Jim Zorn was a left handed QB in the NFL for 11 seasons. He wasn't the best ever, but I'm sure that he can give Palko a lot of tips on how to be a good lefty passer. After all he was a 6'2" 200 pound quarterback and Palko is 6'1" 215 pounds. Logic might tell you that he would be able to teach someone like Palko better than someone like Cassel.
Looking back on his coaching career, he hasn't really coached any lefties. Maybe he can really make Palko shine.
Todd Haley opening up the game plan
In my delusional state, I am trying to convince myself that this was the backup plan all along. It isn't really working, but let's just pretend for a moment that this has been Todd Haley's hope the whole time. That he has some sort of elaborate offense designed just for Tyler Palko.
When I say elaborate offense, I basically just mean the same exact offense executed the way Haley really wants his QB to work. If Haley has ever felt handcuffed by Matt Cassel, maybe after a few games with Palko we will see what Haley is really trying to do.
The Patriots defense may make Tyler Palko look better than he actually is, as they're at the bottom of the league for a reason. They give up 308 yards per game against the pass, and that's not very good. If Tyler Palko throws for 250 yards, it might be attributed to the fact that the Patriots pass defense is non existent.
For a first timer, this is a decent situation to be in.
The bad news is that the Patriots have Tom Brady on offense and they average 326 yards per game passing. Tyler Palko in a shootout with Tom Brady is not the ideal situation. However, if the Chiefs can move the ball, that's what we'll see.
Are the Chiefs out of the race?
Not if they win this game Monday Night in Foxboro. The AFC West is a wide open division. If the Chiefs get a win they'll be back at .500 and right in the thick of it.
The way this season has gone, I expect the Chiefs to show up and surprise us all with a dominating performance. Would that shock anyone? Not me, the Chiefs were expected to win the past two games and they played terribly. They have no chance against New England on paper but....