CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 04: Tyler Palko #4 of the Kansas City Chiefs throws a pass against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 4, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
It's clear that if the Chiefs could afford to have Palko on a short leash, then they would. Instead, he's all they've got.
The defense has been rock solid. The running game can work at times. It's clear the Chiefs have a talented receiving corps. But there's no way those pieces in and of themselves are going to be able to lead the Kansas City Chiefs to the 2011 playoffs. If the Chiefs are hoping for any real chance of repeating their success of last season and making the postseason once again, Tyler Palko is going to have to utilize his experience and grow right before our eyes if the Chiefs have any real hopes.
Last week against the Bears, the Chiefs showed that it's possible to beat a middling team with a strong defense and a lucky shot down the field on a Hail Mary. But given the teams on the rest of the schedule, that's clearly not going to work. The New York Jets cannot afford a loss this Sunday against the Chiefs, and the Packers are playing historically good football right now. Those games come before divisional showdowns against the Broncos and the Raiders in games that both teams will need as much as the Chiefs. Simply put, a strong defense showing won't get it done. The Chiefs have to put points on the board.
Peter King writes that he's interested to watch the games this weekend and notes sarcastically, "All Palko has to do is beat the Jets on the road (Sunday) and the Packers the next week at home to give Kansas City a legit shot at the playoffs." That's a tall order and everyone knows it, including Todd Haley and likely Palko himself. He lost his job only to gain it back again one play later on Sunday's win over the Bears when Kyle Orton left with a dislocated finger. In other words, it's clear that if the Chiefs could afford to have him on a short leash, then they would. Instead, he's all they've got.
This isn't to say that if the Chiefs don't make the playoffs then it's all Palko's fault. That's not true by any means. This season tanked in the first three games and then again during the recent losing streak that included home losses that should not have happened. Injuries and games where the Chiefs didn't show up have sunk the season to this point. It's just that the pressure now rests on Palko's shoulders to put some points on the board, limit turnovers and let the defense do the rest.
Thus far, Palko hasn't been able to do much of the first two and if that cannot begin to happen immediately against the Jets, the Chiefs will likely start looking toward the off-season.