The Tyler Thigpen Era Begins

tyler-thigpenWith a short week and injuries to both Chad Pennigton and Chad Henne, Tyler Thigpen is in line to make his first start as a Miami Dolphin.

It’s probably safe to assume that most Fins fans don’t know all that much about the team’s newest quarterback.  He’s been the third-stringer behind Pennington, Henne, and (sigh) Pat White ever since he was acquired from the Kansas City Chiefs in September 2009, and had throw only one touchdown and three interceptions for Miami prior to last week.  In his most extensive game action to date, he threw two costly picks in a winnable game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17 of 2009.

A mistake-prone QB going up against the Chicago Bears’ fourth-ranked defense that’s tied for the NFL lead with 14 interceptions on the season isn’t exactly a recipe for success, but that doesn’t mean that Thigpen can’t get the job done.

In 2008, Thigpen wasn’t just good in his final ten games for the Chiefs (we’ll conveniently ignore his first career start) — he was one of the best QBs in the NFL.  No seriously, take a look at these numbers from Weeks 7 through 17 of that season.

Player Comp % Pass Yds Pass TD INT Total TD
Drew Brees 63.5% 3,396 25 11 25
Philip Rivers 67.1% 2,826 23 7 23
Aaron Rodgers 63.8% 2,764 19 9 21
Kurt Warner 66.0% 3,111 20 10 20
Peyton Manning 68.6% 2,700 19 7 20
Matt Cassel 62.8% 2,783 18 7 20
Tyler Thigpen 57.8% 2,292 16 8 20
Donovan McNabb 58.8% 2,620 17 9 19
Jay Cutler 60.9% 3,024 15 14 17
Tony Romo 59.7% 2,080 15 9 15
Chad Pennington 67.0% 2,552 14 5 15
Eli Manning 58.6% 2,010 14 6 14
Joe Flacco 58.8% 2,127 13 5 14
David Garrard 61.7% 2,637 12 9 13
Matt Ryan 64.0% 2,577 12 8 13

Only five perennial Pro-Bowlers and a QB playing with Randy Moss and Wes Welker at his disposal found the enzone more times.  The aggressive Thigpen threw the eighth-most TDs — three fewer than Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers — rushed for 386 yards and three more scores, and even caught a 37-yard TD pass.  Of course, the second-year player made his share of errors, and Kansas City lost 10 of the 11 games he started (though six of those contests were decided by seven points or less).  The spectacular numbers apparenty weren’t good enough for the Chiefs, who opted to trade for the marginally-better Matt Cassel and keep the legendary Brodie Croyle as the backup QB.

Last week, I speculated that Thigpen would get an extended look towards the end of the season to see if he can be the Dolphins latest QB of the future.  Miami hung on to him during the offseason despite getting plenty of offers, and instead cut ties with White, a 2009 second-round pick.  Don’t be surprised if the underrated Thigpen seizes the opportunity and establishes an immediate rapport with Brandon Marshall on Thursday night. 

At the very least, let’s hope he can make it through the game — I really don’t want to have to write anything positive about Patrick Ramsey.

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3 Responses to “The Tyler Thigpen Era Begins”

  1. MJ Says:

    His stats are deceiving. He threw 18 Td’s and 11 picks in his first year starting. He almost beat us in 08. Only half a season I might add starting with 18 tds with no Bmarsh is perty good. Only his 2nd year that year as well. So he’s not known for just making reckless mistakes.

  2. greg z. Says:

    in 2009 thigpen entered in the 4th quarter after henne was out(eye) and pat white got knocked out. the score was 27-10 and the game was all but over. tyler then led the dolphins on 2 long td scoring drives to make it 27-24. tyler then threw a pass to ginn at the pitts 2yd line. there was an obvious pass interference that wasnt called when ryan clark was lying on ginns back way early. pitt was given an interception. later thigpen threw an int. in desperation as time ran out. it was hardly a winnable game when he entered.

  3. Alex Says:

    @MJ: Almost everything I wrote about Thigpen was positive, and I pointed out that he was phenomenal in his first year as a starter. But he before we get too carried away, let’s remember that he threw 12 INTs and lost two fumbles in 14 games (11 starts), and had Dwayne Bowe and Tony Gonzalez, who had over 1,000 receiving yards a piece.

    I really like Thigpen, and I think he’ll do just fine (especially if the Dolphins run a spread offense). He’s certainly not afraid to take shots down the field, but he’s also not the most accurate QB (54% career completion %), tends to force the issue, and commits his share of turnovers. The Bears will be a big test.

    @grez z: It wasn’t Thigpen’s fault that the Dolphins lost to the Steelers in that 2009 game, and he did lead Miami on two impressive TD drives when he came in for White. But both of his INTs came while the team was within a touchdown in the closing minutes — the first one came at the Pittsburgh two-yard line, as you noted — so it was definitely a winnable game that had Playoff implications. The turnovers are what most fans remember from his brief tenure as a Dolphin so far.

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