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Tribal Warfare
11-21-2011, 12:35 AM
Chiefs head into unknown with Palko at QB
(http://www.kansascity.com/2011/11/20/3277650/chiefs-head-into-unknown-with.html)By ADAM TEICHER
The Kansas City Star

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. | The Chiefs tried to make the transition from Matt Cassel to Tyler Palko as seamless as possible.

They went through their playbook finding plays that fit Palko’s abilities, said all the right things in support of their new leader and even sent Palko to the podium during Cassel’s usual weekly news conference.

None of these actions disguised the fact that life with a new starting quarterback will be anything but normal.

“It’s like a pair of shoes you wear every day, your favorite shoes,” said Bill Muir, the Chiefs’ veteran offensive coordinator. “Then all of a sudden the heel falls off and you have to wear another pair of shoes. Maybe the new shoes are of equal value, but they just don’t seem to have the same fit. Eventually, they will.

“That’s a fair analogy. Things are going to be different for us for a little while.”

It’s been a long time since the Chiefs last went through a quarterback change. Cassel missed one game in each of his first two seasons in Kansas City, but the Chiefs knew each time that his absence would be a short-term thing.

Then, Cassel injured his passing hand in last week’s game against Denver. Now, after having surgery, it’s likely that he’s finished for the season.

For the time being, the Chiefs are Palko’s team, and he makes the first start of his nomadic NFL career tonight against the New England Patriots.

It’s a strange new world for Palko — and for his teammates. They’ve practiced with him and played with him in the preseason, but there’s plenty of uncertainty over how he will respond in real time to his new assignment.

“You’re taught in this business that when somebody goes down, the next guy has to be ready, and we’re trusting that Tyler is going to be ready for this,” veteran tight end Anthony Becht said. “We’re all going to try to help him, but we can’t do his job for him. We have our own roles to take care of.

“At the end of the day, nobody is really worried about it. There was some initial shock that Matt was going to be out. That stinks. He’s our starting quarterback, but it’s over. It’s Tyler’s shot and we’ll see what happens.”

Expectations for Palko, who couldn’t find any playing time at previous NFL stops in New Orleans, Arizona and Pittsburgh, are universally low, at least outside the Chiefs’ locker room. Perhaps they’re low at some spots inside as well.

But amazing things can happen in situations like this. The Chiefs faced a similar scenario in 2008, when they lost their top two quarterbacks, Damon Huard and Brodie Croyle, for the season.

They had to turn to a young, untested and lightly regarded quarterback named Tyler Thigpen … and Thigpen responded with a big season. The Chiefs were awful that year, but it wasn’t Thigpen’s fault.

“Everybody typically rallies around the second guy,” said former Chiefs quarterback Rich Gannon, a backup who inherited the starter’s position several times while he played in Kansas City. “In this instance, look at a guy like Tyler. He never made a start before and his first assignment is on the road against New England, a team that’s been incredible at home. That’s not an easy assignment for him, so it’s natural that everybody around him tries to elevate their game to assist him. People are going to have to play better around him.

“That usually lasts a couple of weeks. You love him, you rally around him, you support him, you help him, you encourage him. But if you go a couple or three weeks and you’re still losing, everybody will start to wonder about the other guy, about this (Ricky) Stanzi kid.

“The thing to remember is that they weren’t playing that great around Cassel. So it’s not going to be easy for (Palko). I can’t imagine a more difficult way for him to start, first against (New England coach Bill) Belichick and (quarterback Tom) Brady, and then against the Pittsburgh defense the next week.”

The fact that Palko is making his first NFL start in conditions considered far less than ideal could earn him more love and support than if things were going well for the Chiefs.

“I’m still waiting to get my first sympathy card about all this,” Muir said. “Nobody else cares that we lost our quarterback. They’re just out there waiting to kick our butt. So you can be an ostrich and keep your head in the sand, or you can realize we’ve suffered a dramatic injury here and we can’t just fall down and let everybody kick us in the face.”

And things could always be worse. Running back Thomas Jones recalled a season when he played for Chicago that the Bears started four different quarterbacks for at least three games apiece.

“It seemed like we had a different guy in there every week,” Jones said. “The way we can help Tyler out is by being behind him. We’ll support him whether he makes a good play or a bad play.”

Wide receiver Keary Colbert also went through a season in which his team at the time — Carolina — started four quarterbacks.

“That was a tough situation,” Colbert said. “Here, everybody is confident in Tyler and what he can do. I think we’ll do just as well with Tyler in there as we did with Matt.”

That probably won’t be anywhere close to good enough tonight against the Patriots, who average about 29 points per game and are one of the NFL’s highest-scoring teams.

The Chiefs haven’t scored 29 points in a game yet this season. In fact, they’ve scored just 13 over their past two games.

“He’ll have to realize he doesn’t have to play like Tom Brady to win,” Gannon said of Palko. “He just needs to play like Tyler Palko. That means doing the things he’s capable of doing and making good decisions. It’s OK to throw the ball away once in awhile. It’s not the end of the world to have to punt, though against the Patriots, you can only do that a couple of times.

“He’s got to be assertive. He’s got to go in there and take control of the situation. He can’t look at it that he’s got Matt Cassel’s job. He has to look at it as his job. The other guys are going to look at him after a bad play or a sack or an interception to see how he’s going to respond. That’s a position of leadership, and they’ll follow if he’ll lead.”

CHIEFS AT PATRIOTS
•WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 tonight in Foxborough, Mass.

•TV/RADIO: ESPN and KMBC (Ch. 9); KCFX (101.1 FM)

BWillie
11-21-2011, 01:08 AM
http://www.panhistoria.com/Stacks/Novels/Character_Homes/HomeImages/S536.jpg

Tyler FALCO? Hmmm. Worked out well for the replacements. To the 'ship!

beach tribe
11-21-2011, 09:06 AM
LOL. Muir said Cassel, and Palko are of equal value.
He must also think Cassel sucks bawls

MahiMike
11-21-2011, 09:07 AM
oooh...the abyss!

SenselessChiefsFan
11-21-2011, 09:22 AM
Reading this article...on the one hand you have Gannon saying that the team didn't play well around Cassel...intimating that it wasn't all Cassel's fault.

On the other hand, you have Muir intmating that the dropoff in talent from Cassel to Palko may not be that much and you have Colbert saying that he thinks they will do just as well with Palko.

I am not a conspiracy thinking kind of guy... but I do wonder how serious Cassel's injury is.... and why the Chiefs wouldn't just come out and say he is being benched. It would strengthen the fans faith in the organization, not diminish it.