The timing must have felt right for Chiefs coach Todd Haley.
Unlike their division rivals from Oakland, Kansas City had at least give Orton a full week and a half of practice to learn the playbook before throwing him into the fray. And, they were in the midst of a scoreless tie on Orton’s former home field.
What could possibly go wrong? How about the play call.
On Orton’s first snap, the Chiefs ran a flea flicker.
The result: a dislocated finger and quite possibly the most expensive single play in franchise history.
When they claimed him off waivers from the Broncos on Nov. 23, the Chiefs took a $2.5 million hit in the wallet.
And when Bears safety Major Wright crashed into Orton’s throwing hand, that $2.5 million check may be worth all of one incomplete pass. Orton will likely play again this season (if, for no other reason, than because the alternatives are hardly pleasing to the eye), but if he doesn’t, that flea flicker could haunt team executives for a long time.
(See video of the play on Arrowhead Pride here.)
Tyler Palko — the former UFL and CFL quarterback who came into the game with six interceptions and no touchdowns — re-entered and remarkably ended up leading the Chiefs to a 10-3 victory over the Matt Forte-less, Caleb Hanie-led Monsters of the Midway.
Believe it or not, the Chiefs are not completely out of the hunt in the AFC West. They’re two games behind the Broncos and Raiders. But their remaining schedule (at the Jets, home to Green Bay and Oakland and at the Broncos) is the more difficult than the division co-leaders. And despite a rare turnover-free performance from Palko on Sunday, it’s hard to see him leading Kansas City to more than one win the rest of the way.
As for Orton? After the game, Haley did not have an update on the newly-acquired QB, and Orton was not seen wearing bandaging on his hand. But Haley also seemed to indicate Orton was not replacing Palko when he trotted out to start the second quarter, but rather running a specific package.
“We had to get him prepared to play,” Haley said. “We had some things to do with him. We had a plan for him if needed. We weren’t making the change there, so to speak, we were getting guys ready to play and get the job done.”
So what are the odds of the Chiefs calling a flea-flicker again this season? Let’s say one in about 2.5 million.
Box score: Chiefs 10, Bears 3