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Palko discusses first start, plus other notes from MNF

Posted Nov 22, 2011

Palko's first start, Jones' spark, offensive play-calling and more...


FOXBOROUGH, MA – Following the first start of his NFL career, Chiefs quarterback Tyler Palko couldn’t get the three interceptions he threw out of his head.

Though each of the interceptions was off-target, two were tipped into the air by Chiefs receivers before landing in the hands of NFL interception leader Kyle Arrington. Regardless, Palko shouldered full responsibility for each of the three turnovers.

Palko would finish his starting debut going 25-of-38 for 236 yards with 3 INTs and a 49.9 quarterback rating.

“You can’t run away from them; they’re interceptions,” Palko said. “They were turnovers and you can’t run away from those things. You have to learn from them, but move forward as well. At the end of the day, you go back, watch the film, evaluate, and move forward. You can’t do anything about the past and obviously it was disappointing.”

Despite the interceptions, Palko’s teammates walked away optimistic that the inexperienced quarterback has ability to take control of the team’s offense.

“I thought he handled himself great,” RB Thomas Jones said. “He was poised. He ran the offense well. The guys responded to him. I thought he did a pretty great job especially this being his first start. There is a lot of pressure put on a guy like that. He handled it well and I’m very proud of him.”

Coach Todd Haley echoed Jones’ sentiment.

“You know, the interception late, I wasn’t crazy about that decision,” Haley said. “But I thought overall Tyler did a terrific, terrific job with handling the offense, the tempo. We obviously, we were trying to altar the tempo and create some energy for our side and at times we were able to do a good job, but other times we weren’t.

“But I thought, overall, Tyler did a lot of really good things. You know, interceptions are things that can happen, and sacks at inopportune times can happen. But I think it is something to build on and he will get better.”

Though Haley didn’t directly answer the question in his post-game press conference, it appears Palko has earned another start at quarterback.

Rookie Ricky Stanzi served as Palko’s backup Monday night, but didn’t see any action. He didn’t begin warming up at any time either.

Cassel’s Season Officially Over

The Chiefs made an expected move shortly before kickoff by placing QB Matt Cassel on injured reserve. Cassel underwent surgery on his throwing hand last week.

Placing Cassel on injured reserve officially ends his 2011 season.

 “We just put a lot of thought and time into it as an organization, with our doctors, obviously, and just made the decision that we thought was in the best interest of us and him,” Haley said. “You know, it’s the right hand of a right-handed quarterback, so we just tried to do what we think was best. And it’s going to take some time anyways. “

Cassel did not travel with the team to New England and Kansas City promoted WR Jeremy Horne from the practice squad to fill the open roster space.

Horne was active for Monday night’s game playing primarily on special teams. In addition to notching a tackle on kick coverage, Horne returned a kickoff for 24 yards in the fourth quarter. He also received a handful of offensive snaps and ran a reverse for five yards.

Jones Shows Spark

Veteran RB Thomas Jones was an early sparkplug for the Chiefs offense, averaging 6.0 yards per rush.

Most of Jones’ carries occurred when the game was within reach and it was easily Jones’ best showing of the season. He appeared to run with increased foot speed and brought high energy with each rushing attempt.

“Thomas is just a great professional and all those backs, they want to be carrying it every time,” Haley said. “And I just can’t say enough about Thomas and how he handles himself as a pro and that’s what we’re trying to build and develop here.”

Jones’ 26-yard first quarter carry led to Chiefs only points of the game. He’d later rattle off a 14-yard carry that was called back because of a holding penalty.

The 14-yard run would have given the Chiefs a first down in field goal range with the Patriots trailing by three points. Instead, the Chiefs were eventually forced to punt.

Jones finished the game with 48 rushing yards on eight attempts, but took no pleasure in his increased production.

“I can’t feel good about a good run on a couple good plays if we didn’t win, it doesn’t make sense,” Jones said.

Haley Denies Calling Plays

A decision to move offensive coordinator Bill Muir from the coaches’ box to the sideline prompted much speculation that Todd Haley had taken over play-calling duties for the Chiefs offense.

It was the first time since last season that Muir had been on the sidelines, but after the game Haley said that no changes had been made to the Chiefs play-calling structure.

“It was no different than what we normally do,” Haley said.

“We just made an alteration with having Bill down. We just thought, I just thought that we were at a point here, at this point in the season, that in order to try to get a little change, he talks to the offense all week and I just felt that being up in the box right now wasn’t the best place for him. So, we brought him down, but we were still status quo with how we operated.”

Regardless, the social media world was abuzz with the surprise in-game development. Quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn remained on the sideline alongside Haley and Muir.

Gronkowski Burns Chiefs

Kansas City has struggled to defend opposing tight ends throughout the 2011 season and that trend continued Monday night when Rob Gronkowski broke free for touchdowns receptions of 19 and 52 yards.

Gronkowski went on to lead the Patriots with four catches for 96 yards while fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez was the Patriots’ second-leading receiver with four catches for 44 yards. In total, QB Tom Brady targeted tight ends on 14 of his 27 pass attempts.

“He’s a big guy, but he’s not a quick guy,” LB Derrick Johnson said of Gronkowski. “He did a great job tonight, he ran his routes and a couple of times he was open.  You have a small margin for error when you play the Patriots and Tom Brady did a good job when he got his opportunities.”

Gronkowski’s 52-yard TD catch was a career long and he now has 20 touchdowns since the start of the 2010 season, which is the most among all NFL tight ends during that time.

Last season, the Chiefs used Eric Berry to cover pass-catching tight ends. Berry was lost for the season with a knee injury on the first defensive series of the 2011 campaign.

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