Croyle entered Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos, replacing an injured Damon Huard, who was hurt early in the second half after being sacked by Elvis Dumervil. Croyle tried to bring the Chiefs back from a two-score deficit, but couldn’t get it done. Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards announced the next day that Croyle would be the starter for the rest of the season, and that the team now belongs to him.
“You don’t know until you try, until you give a guy an opportunity,” said Edwards. “It’s his turn to have an opportunity. Damon had his opportunity for nine weeks and did a good job. We were able to win four games and stay in the hunt. Now, you just feel like to continue to win some games you go to a guy like this and say, it’s your turn, to try to give you a spark.”
There’s been speculation since the offseason on when Croyle would actually start a game. Ever since former quarterback Trent Green made statements about the competition for the starting job, there were questions - not about whether or not Croyle would win the starting nod, but when. According to Green then, he wanted out of Kansas City because the competition was slanted towards the young quarterback.
Either way, starting Croyle was a move the Chiefs needed to make, especially in the long term. They need to know if their third-round draft pick from last season, their quarterback of the future, was actually the answer. The Chiefs have committed themselves to building a young team, quite successfully, despite their current 4-5 record, and needed to get some experience for their signal caller.
“It’s his turn,” said Edwards. He’s a kid we drafted and a guy we said that at the end of the day we want to find out if he can play quarterback. Well, now it’s going to be his turn. We’re going to find out the next seven weeks.”
Croyle’s got the talent to play. One thing the young quarterback isn’t short on is ability. He can make all the throws, has a lively arm, and the mobility to move around and get away from pressure. The question becomes, “Can he become the first quarterback drafted by the Chiefs to pan out?”
Kansas City’s luck with drafted quarterbacks hasn’t been very good. The best quarterbacks in Chiefs history were drafted by another team. Len Dawson was originally picked by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Joe Montana was a free agent. Trent Green was acquired in a trade with the Rams. Todd Blackledge, the highest-profile Chiefs’ rookie quarterback ever, didn’t pan out, despite his first-round status.
Of course, Croyle can’t worry about that now. The rubber’s met the road, and for better or worse, he’s the guy, and deservedly so, but that’s not enough. Croyle’s has to help improve a Chiefs team that’s scoring only about 15 points a game. The former Alabama quarterback looked pretty good Sunday - he was sharp – the offense just couldn’t put any more points on the board. Edwards is going to give him time, however, to get the team on track.
“I told him every game he has to improve now,” he said. “That’s his job. It’s to improve. He doesn’t have to be a leader. No one is asking him to lead. Just play quarterback. He can’t lead a team until he wins.”