Chiefs make the right call at QB

December, 14, 2011
12/14/11
2:30
PM ET
Earlier Wednesday, we broached the Kansas City Chiefs' chances of making a move at quarterback.

Orton
Palko
The fact that the Chiefs are beginning the post-Todd Haley era without starting quarterback Tyler Palko makes perfect sense. Interim coach Romeo Crennel said Kyle Orton will start Sunday against Green Bay if he is healthy. If not, 2011 fifth-round pick Ricky Stanzi will get a shot. Thus, the Tyler Palko era appears to be over.

There were rumblings that Haley’s insistence on sticking with the struggling Palko for four starts was one of the final straws in the Chiefs’ decision to fire him Monday. Palko took over for the injured Matt Cassel, who is out for the rest of the season with a hand injury.

Palko started two games after the team claimed Orton and the remaining $2.5 million on his contract in November. Orton was in for one play -- a flea flicker -- in his second game. He injured a finger on his throwing hand and hasn’t played since. However, the Kansas City Star reported Orton was throwing the ball well in practice Wednesday.

So, expect Orton to get the nod for the rest of the season if he doesn’t suffer a setback. Stanzi will be his backup.

I thought Orton should have started against Chicago in his second game with the Chiefs. He is the best quarterback on the active roster and he gives the team a chance to compete.

This is the right call.

It also sets up an intriguing revenge game for Orton. The Chiefs play at Denver in Week 17 on New Year’s Day. The Broncos, who replaced Orton with Tim Tebow after five games, may need to win that game to claim the division title. You think Orton wouldn’t be motivated that day?

Also, Orton is a free agent at the end of the season, so this three-game stretch gives him a chance to audition to both the Chiefs -- as Crennel is doing -- and other teams in the league.

If Stanzi gets a chance to play, it will further help him make a push to be the No. 2 quarterback next year. Expect Palko’s days as a Chief to be over. He threw two touchdown passes and seven interceptions this season.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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