St. Joseph, Mo. If Kansas City Chiefs fans could make a wish, they should probably plead for Matt Cassel’s continued good health.
Behind their Pro Bowl quarterback, at least early in camp, are two potential backups with a grand total of four NFL completions between them. And one guy has all of those.
Risky? No doubt. And there’s no guarantee the Chiefs won’t eventually bring in an experienced signal-caller to compete with rookie Ricky Stanzi and Tyler Palko, who has attempted just six passes since entering the NFL in 2007 as a rookie free agent out of Pittsburgh.
“We obviously think about those things across the roster, what-if scenarios,” head coach Todd Haley said. “And you can go all day talking about what-if scenarios.”
As the Chiefs get deeper into camp, they show no outward interest in bringing back Brodie Croyle. Winless in 10 starts for the Chiefs over the past five seasons, Croyle also had injury problems. When Cassel went out due to an emergency appendectomy last season, Croyle didn’t help his cause when he hit only seven of 17 passes for 40 yards and got sacked four times in a 31-0 loss to San Diego.
So for now at least, it’s Stanzi and Palko. But for sure, front-office eyes will be scanning the horizon for other possibilities as camp moves on.
“We’ve got to develop players, and if we can do that, I think good things will happen,” Haley said. “Then we’ll be able to make good decisions off the information that we have. If at a point we feel like it’s too risky, then it’s up to us as an organization to do what’s necessary to try to improve the team. I don’t think we’re at that point right now. We’re working hard.”
Stanzi was drafted in the fifth round out of Iowa, whose coaching staff has a close relationship with Haley and some other members of the Chiefs. He has a strong arm and was 18-4 as a starter. His senior year, he hit 221 of 345 passes for 3,004 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Palko has the distinction of throwing for more yards at Pittsburgh than hall of famer Dan Marino did as a Panther. He was out of football entirely in 2008, then was picked up by Pittsburgh in 2009. He was listed as the Steelers’ third QB in one game, but still got released.
The Chiefs signed him in 2010 and gave him what is so far his only NFL experience. He appeared in two games and hit four of six passes for 35 yards. He also carried twice for five yards.
This may be his last and best opportunity to gain a foothold in the NFL. Not only is his competition a rookie, but his new quarterback coach, Jim Zorn, was a left-handed passer just like him.