With a little less than two minutes remaining in their eventual 17-10 loss to the Broncos, the Chiefs' offense took the field with Tyler Palko in at quarterback and starter Matt Cassel on the bench. Palko wound up doing well, leading the Chiefs to a field goal to make it a one-score game, but the move was not made to see how the backup would handle the Denver defense. It was because Cassel, who had been sacked nine times and hit on 21 other plays over the past two weeks, was in too much pain to continue playing. Head coach Todd Haley said as much after the game, saying Cassel, "was beat up there at the end; he was unable to go physically."
It looks like because of a hand injury, Cassel will be unable to go again in the Chiefs' next game, at New England next Monday night, meaning Palko will get the start. With the way the team has blocked for him recently, that might be welcome news to Cassel.
The PFW Spin
NFL players and coaches like to talk about how there are no easy games in the league, and that on any given Sunday, any team can win if it plays its best. While there are certain degrees of truth to that, it is also accurate that both coaches and players know which games on their schedule they have to win and which ones are going to be difficult.
The Chiefs have just competed a two-week stretch of games that they should have won, first against the Dolphins and then the Broncos; instead K.C. lost both. In both matchups, the offensive line's inability to protect Cassel was the primary reason the Chiefs ended up losing — not the only reason, mind you, but a primary one. An offense can't move the ball too well if its most important player is being thrown to the ground every time he drops back.
There is enough blame to go around, from OLT Branden Albert, who was beaten repeatedly by Broncos DE Elvis Dumervil, to TE Leonard Pope, who was pushed around like a rag doll by rookie OLB Von Miller. Even Cassel, who has been criticized by some for holding on to the ball too long, is worthy of a fair share of the blame. No matter who's at fault, the problems must be fixed soon if the Chiefs are going to recover from their recent two-game skid.
With the toughest part of their schedule now beginning — five consecutive games against 2010 playoff teams who have a combined 32-13 record this season (before the Packers' Monday-night contest) — and a backup quarterback now in, the Chiefs are in massive trouble. The team already lost its best playmaker, RB Jamaal Charles, to a season-ending knee injury in Week Two. Now with a shaky line, a huge drop-off in quarterback play and a murderer's row of upcoming opponents, it's difficult to envision the Chiefs returning to their winning ways the rest of this season, thanks in large part to the failures of the front five.
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