Chiefs' Orton to get crack at starting QB job
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kyle Orton finished dressing after the Chiefs' loss to the Steelers on Sunday night, and then turned to face reporters for the first time since he was claimed off waivers from the Denver Broncos.
At the very same moment, Tyler Palko brushed past the scrum that had gathered around Orton, on his way to a sparsely attended postgame news conference, his four-turnover effort having contributed largely to a 13-9 loss that gave Kansas City a four-game losing streak.
It was a telling image about where the Chiefs' future lies.
Embattled coach Todd Haley said Monday that Palko, the West Allegheny grad, remains the starter, but he acknowledged that Orton will be given every opportunity to win the job before Sunday's game at Chicago.
"Tyler's the starter," Haley said, "but as we do every week and with every position, if we feel Kyle or Ricky (Stanzi) gives us a chance to win, we'll make that determination."
The Chiefs have been scrambling to find a replacement for Matt Cassel, who joined Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry and All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles on injured reserve after hurting his throwing hand late in a loss to the Broncos on Nov. 13.
They chose not to bring in an experienced backup during training camp, electing to stick with Palko and Stanzi, their fifth-round draft pick. The former Pitt standout Palko was given the reins of the offense last week at New England and threw three interceptions in a 34-3 loss. And when Orton didn't arrive in Kansas City until Friday, the team had no choice but to start Palko against Pittsburgh.
The journeyman quarterback, who was once cut by a UFL team, wound up fumbling a snap and throwing two interceptions in a span of three offensive plays. His third interception happened in the closing seconds as Kansas City tried to march downfield for a go-ahead touchdown.
"Tyler knows he cannot be careless with the football," Haley said. "That being said, throughout the game, a lot of the things Tyler did gave us a chance to win that game."
The things he did were also the biggest reason they lost.
"It's just execution," Palko said afterward. "Four turnovers today and how many last week, three• Seven turnovers in two games is unacceptable. We're shooting ourselves in the foot."
Haley refused to say whether Orton could have learned enough of the offense to be available to run the two-minute drill, but he did say that the former Broncos and Bears starter will be able to get up to speed in time to compete for the starting job this week.
"I don't think that's an issue, really. When you talk about Kyle, you talk about a really bright football guy," Haley said. "That won't be an issue. More along the lines of who can run the offense most efficiently given how we're built."
Orton said that his goal is to help the Chiefs (4-7) reach the playoffs, something that is still possible in the weak AFC West, incredible as that sounds. But he won't be able to do that unless he's able to grow comfortable with the personnel and playbook in just a few days' worth of practice.
"Yeah, it's difficult. Not only just trying to learn the offense but trying to get the timing with everybody and get the familiarity with everybody," Orton said. "I'm just going to take whatever role I have on the team and try to do the best I can."
Orton said he's committed to helping the floundering Chiefs, who have a brutal stretch of five games remaining, despite the fact that he'll be a free agent after this season.
The Chiefs certainly thought enough of his ability to help out that they were willing to assume the roughly $2.6 million left on his contract for a stretch of games that includes trips to the Bears and Jets, home games against the defending Super Bowl champion Packers and AFC West-leading Raiders, and the regular-season finale at suddenly perky Denver.
"I don't expect anything but to work hard and learn the offense and try to fill any role that I can," Orton said. "It's just a matter of trying to get to know my teammates and get to know the system as well as I can and help any way that I can."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers free safety Mitchell is still settling into role on defense
- Rossi: Middling Steelers must make a statement
- Steelers’ Adams delivers in pinch against Texans
- Steelers notebook: Young players provide big challenge for special teams coach
- Starkey: Century mark beckons for Ben
- Steelers’ defense on pace for fewest sacks in 16-game season
- Steelers’ Pouncey, brother won’t be charged in July fracas
- Nearing season’s midpoint, Steelers still have issues to sort out
- Rookie Bryant sparks deep passing game for Steelers in victory
- Steelers notebook: No-huddle gets limited use vs. Texans
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin bringing officials to practice