Neither team was given the chance, thanks to Kansas City. Whereas both Houston and Chicago will wait a few more days to see if their backups are either serviceable, dreadful, or somewhere in between, the Chiefs already found out the answer to that question Monday night. That’s when Tyler Palko threw three interceptions in his first career start.
That inept display of quarterbacking led to a 34-3 drubbing, and it was all Todd Haley needed to see of Palko. Kansas City claimed Orton using its 13th position on the waiver priority, and in doing so general manager Scott Pioli re-inserted a respectable and experienced quarterback into his offense.
Let’s not get dizzy with delusions of grandeur, though, because Orton isn’t vaulting the Chiefs back into the playoff race in the AFC West, even if they’re only two games back of the division-leading Raiders and currently hold the tiebreaker after defeating Oakland 28-0 in Week 7.
Finding an improvement over Palko is easy, but finding a sizable improvement over Palko isn’t. Orton is still the same quarterback who fell to the third spot on Denver’s depth chart, and threw nearly as many interceptions (7) as touchdowns (8) in four-and-a-half games earlier this year. Kansas City’s remaining schedule (vs. PIT, @CHI, @NYJ, vs. GB, vs. OAK, @DEN), is daunting defensively with the exception of Oakland, and the Raiders and Packers will provide the only opportunities for Orton to develop any kind of passing rhythm.
Whatever hope remains for Kansas City’s playoff aspirations lies in Orton’s ability to re-capture his heavy-armed touch from last year when he averaged 281 passing yards per game. That kind of throwing presence will give Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston, and Jonathan Baldwin the arm strength and accuracy in the pocket sorely missed during the Palko era that lasted one game.