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Chiefs Shouldn't Discount Thigpen

The Kansas City Star has a new statistically-oriented sports blog, and Bradford Doolittle -- you may recognize the name, he writes over at Basketball Prospectus -- uses FO stats to try to analyze whether Tyler Thigpen is Kansas City's quarterback of the future, or just a placeholder. He even uses a pretty complex similarity scores system that includes DVOA. Doolittle's conclusion seems pretty close to mine: Who the hell knows? Is Thigpen enough of a sure thing that the Chiefs should pass on Matt Stafford or Mark Sanchez if they feel one of these players is worth the third pick overall? No. Is he clearly so bad that they have to reach for one of these players or desperately go sign a veteran quarterback? No. However, the Chiefs do have to figure out why on earth Thigpen got so much worse with each successive quarter. His fourth-quarter numbers are atrocious.

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23 comments, Last at 27 Jan 2009, 9:14am

1 Re: Chiefs Shouldn't Discount Thigpen

In the numbers at the end, why do all those QBs have identical back-to-back seasons? Is the DYAR/500 rating for their entire career?

2 Re: Chiefs Shouldn't Discount Thigpen

FO quality post, kudos to Mr. Doolittle for writing it and Aaron & FO for bringing it to us- both in terms of producing FO stats in the first place and for posting it on XP.

3 Re: Chiefs Shouldn't Discount Thigpen

Dr Doolittle is right, the completion percentage jumps out at you. Thigpen did not reach his PFP projection, which was already pretty dismal. You don't have to be a Lewin fundamentalist to wonder if that spells trouble.

I guess his higher-than-projected DVOA stems from a low interception percentage. Could that be the David Garrard Effect?

Looking at Thigpen's conventional situational stats, the first-half/second-half split isn't so obvious. If anything, it's a first-quarter/rest-of-the-game split. Also, in his defense, Thigpen threw less than 25 percent of his passes while his team was ahead. Comparative stats can't take into account the sheer pressure that falls on a green QB required, game in game out, to rally his team from behind.

Still, he appeared to get worse in December. And the low interception rate could very well be due to five games against the units masquerading as pass defenses in San Diego, Denver and Oakland.

For some reason, among all the names on Doolittle's similarity score list, the one that sprang out was Damon Huard.

4 Re: Chiefs Shouldn't Discount Thigpen

I think Thigpen is good enough to be a place holder. Whether or not he's starter material remains to be seen but he should be good enough to let the Chiefs start rebuilding their defence.

6 Re: Chiefs Shouldn't Discount Thigpen

Just an amateur fan's 'scouting' report here, but I did see a number of his games.

I don't think I have ever seen a QB performance as atrocious as his against the Raiders early in the season.

The rest of the year, surprisingly decent. I think he actually could be a decent mid-tier starter, and might even have a year or two as a low-level star. He's better quality than usually ends up having a career as a backup.

8 Re: Chiefs Shouldn't Discount Thigpen

Experiment: If you were to start your expansion team today, would you take Matt Leinart, Vince Young, Tarvaris Jackson or Thigpen?

I'm leaning towards Thigpen...

9 Re: Chiefs Shouldn't Discount Thigpen

Anyone else think that a pattern of decline during games -- and over the course of the season indicates an inability to adjust?

Now maybe that can be cured with intensive coaching -- but there's no one in KC right now willing or able to do that. Thigpen could be a poor man's Derek Anderson -- someone that regresses to his natural level, once people take the time to figure him out.

So if Sanchez or Stafford is available, take him! And if the question is which of the four above -- Leinart; there's still much more upside with him than Thigpen.

10 Re: Chiefs Shouldn't Discount Thigpen

I would take Leinart first, Thipgpen second, Young 3rd, and I would rather line up two RBs and just run than play with T-Jax.

Leinart - The cards would be stupid to let him go unless it was for a really sweet deal. The guy dealt with a crap team, numerous coaches including the absolutely insane Denny Green. His rawness caught up with him this year, and he lost the job because of it. I personally think after watching Warner light up the league, that the light for Matt will absolutely turn on. He has watched how Kurt studies, interacts with team mates, takes care of himself etc. Dont give up on the guy yet, he has the talent and he has been shown how its done. I say the guy bounces back. Look I love Warner as much as anyone and barring something crazy I have no doubt that AZ re-signs the guy. But after watching his wild swings in ability I think you need a very good #2 if Kurt is your #1.

Thigpen - How could anyone win with this team? Gonzo is a stud and Bowe has great potential, but man they are bad. Herm screws up almost as much as Childress, and their defense is brutal. Thigpen has some wheels on him and adds a great element to the Chiefs offense. Granted some of these numbers scare me, but for what they had to work with I think Thigpen is the second best of this group.

Young - Huge mistake from day 1. The fact that the Titans brought in USC's OC Norm Chow should have GUARANTEED Matt Leinart. I heard that Chow and FIsher wanted Matty, but their GM wanted Young. Ugh. Look Young was incredible in the rosebowl, no doubt he had the game of his life. But let me ask you a question? Have you EVER seen a game where Young has looked like he is a guy who can drop back and be a true QB? Then there was the wonderlic fiasco and ah, just an atrocious pick from the Titans. I still think that had they taken Leinart this league would be very different today, Leinart would be Cutler and Cutler, well he would still be Cutler. Just how immature is VY? You mean to tell me that IF his head was in game shape that FIsher would not have had a package where Young comes in? Jeff knows what he is doing, and if he trusted Young even one iota they would have a Wildcat or Suggs package. But no, Vince was a terrible pick and I dont think he ever starts for a team again.

T-Jax - You thought I was hard on VY? This guy is not an NFL QB. Sorry, he sucks and that is the bottom line. Best running game in football and a top 5 defense. Jax one hopes more throws than any other QB in the league. Add to this that Childress is the worst coach in the league and its a disaster. 2 WR's left and a tight end on the right, play action left and QB bootleg with the TE running a simple slant out. Two recievers on the left and the fact that AP is running means that the offense would absolutely have both safeties accounted for; one for AP and the other for the WR's. Jackson is fast enough that the Vikes should be able to run, run, play action boot and have a short completion or a QB scramble. For those who remember football think Jake Plummer in his big year in Denver. This is ALL they did, and they did not have the running game or the defense that Minny does. It worked for them and the only reason it wouldnt work for the Vikes is that T-Jax stinks. I dont know who the QB will be in Minny next year, but they cant have the same crap platter at QB. Warner? Maybe, Collins? Doubt it. Cassel? Could see it happening, maybe Derek Anderson? Bottom line is T Jax will not get the job done, and the Vikes would be FOOLISH to let him be more than a #2.

11 Re: Chiefs Shouldn't Discount Thigpen

Does "huge mistake from day 1" include the season where Young was NFL rookie MVP?

And are you sure that off-field / depression / mental health issues related to enormous pressure are signs of "immaturity"? If so, I'm about level with a foetus.

12 Re: Chiefs Shouldn't Discount Thigpen

"Does "huge mistake from day 1" include the season where Young was NFL rookie MVP?"

Well, if it doesn't, it certainly should do. VY was awful that year, but was a well-known QUARTERBACK on a winn^H^H^H^H not massively losing team.

By passer rating (normal rules apply), VY was better than exactly one other QB that year

This in a year with Addai, Reggie Bush (yes, not good runner, good receiver) and MJD amongst other

Not that I'm still bitter about this award, or anything...

16 Re: Chiefs Shouldn't Discount Thigpen

Good points, allthough I don't agree that Leinart would've been Cutler if he was drafted by Tennesee. If you, as a QB, can't put MVP (or at least pro bowl, like Cutler) numbers when throwing to Boldin and Fitz, you have no chance with McCareins and Scaife. I don't care how good your groundgame and defense is - you're toast, T Jax is basically Exhibit A in that discussion.

Mistake from day one is a bit harsh, I think, on the TEN-organisation. I thought "McNabb" was the absolute floor for VY comming out of Tennnesee.

13 Re: Chiefs Shouldn't Discount Thigpen


So if you owned the Titans would you be saying "Sure we have invested over $20 million in VInce Young, but hey at least he won Rookie of The Year!".

These signing bonuses and contracts are huge, so you absolutely have to do your homework. Its a huge investment, not the same as picking which five dollar footlong to have for lunch. If I am going to write someone a check roughly equivalent to the GDP of a small country, he had better be mature. So yeah getting a 6 on the wonderlic shows me the guy is immature. If his agent cant convince him to study for a test BEFORE he gets paid, what faith as an owner would I have that this guy will put his film time in once he gets a guaranteed contract? (BTW I think the correct spelling of "fetus" was an actual question on the wonderlic, is Ammek actually VY writing in to FO?)

Also pointing out that VY won rookie of the year just proves what an immature clown he really is. From a physical standpoint VY has it all; he's a big tall guy with top notch speed and a howitzer for an arm. This puts him at an advantage compared to most QBs in the NFL not named Mike Vick. (Fortunately VY doesn't have a hobby that mixes WWE and K-9s). Despite all his potential VY has not shown one ounce of improvement. So yeah I think we can absolutely say that VY was a bad investment, but thank you Ammek (VY?) for helping me prove my point.

15 Re: Chiefs Shouldn't Discount Thigpen

I don't follow college football or the draft, so I have no opinion on Young's pre-draft talent or lack thereof.

I don't, however, place much faith or importance in the Wonderlic as a test of a player's NFL future. Pre-draft reports and opinions said the top QB in the draft was a toss-up between Young and Leinart. NFL teams knew more about Young on draft day than we did (or do now), and were aware of the obvious risks, eg "maturity" / motivation. Your accusation that the Titans (like Young) didn't do their homework is easy to level with hindsight; but at the time, and especially during his rookie season, it didn't seem so clear-cut.

The vitriol that some fans feel for young high-profile 'busts' is almost scary. If Young had gone ahead and topped himself, would you blame it on his Wonderlic score? His immaturity? None of us can know how we would react under the pressure of being the multimillion dollar future of an NFL franchise. Some, though, are clearly more interested in the "investment" side than anything, say, human.

Oh, and I'm a European, so my spelling of foetus/fetus is just fine, thank you.

17 Re: Chiefs Shouldn't Discount Thigpen

Looking at Harris' list, I'm amazed at the anger and happiness towards the failing of the two minority quarterbacks, while at the same time making excuses for the two white quarterbacks.
You know what? It's not Tarvaris Jackson's fault that he was drafted in the second round and anointed the future starter by Childress. Rarely do I feel the net to contribute to messageboard threads, but for some reason I always need to defend T-Jax. He's stuck in an awful offense with limited skill possession players. Matt Cassel (and I'm a Pats fan) gets almost immortalized in the media for throwing 10 smoke screens to Wes Welker a game, but rarely is he taken to task for his inability to hit Moss deep or complete the ball more than 10 yards down field. The Vikings have one pass play - roll out to Shiancoe. If Childress had the ability to design a better offense, and they had WR's that could do something besides running fly patterns, I have no doubt that Jackson could at least be league average. I don't understand everyone's rush to throw him under the bus. AP has nothing to do with the passing game, and their offensive line is overrated (in fact, when Jackson got benched the first time around, he was playing without McKinnie). I agree that the Vikes need a better QB to make a Super Bowl run, but that's the fault of the FO and Childress, not Jackson.
VY - Yes, he seems immature, and Collins played a lot better than him this year. I have no qualms saying he hasn't lived up to his vast potential yet. However, he could use a legitimate wide receiver.
Thigpen - I was kind of impressed by him when I saw him this year. He made some NFL quality throws into tight spots and didn't seem like a 7th rounder who had been in the league for only a year. He makes some dumb throws, has a lousy completion percentage, but he's not an embarrassment to have as a starter.
Leinart - to me, he is worst of this group. He seems like a guy that was used to have wide open WRs in college, and didn't adjust to having smaller windows in the pros. The difference between Warner's performance and Leinart's is so massive that I think we have to question Matt's ability to be a starter in the pro's. He has some of the best skill talent in the league, but he can't get the ball to them. The decision making and pocket presence - everything draft guys we're lauding him for before the draft - is non-existent for Leinart in the NFL.

That's a longer post than I hoped it would be, but I see no reason to make an excuse for why Leinart hasn't been successful, and not allow the same for T-Jax and VY.

20 Re: Chiefs Shouldn't Discount Thigpen

Not saying you hate black QBs - you just make no argument as to why they have no chance of succeeding in the NFL while the white QBs do have a chance to succeed. It's an odd assessment, and one I see in the media all the time. If you could clear this up, I'd appreciate it. What's more, do you have the same anger for David Carr that you do for VY "the immature clown"? It's just weird the way you have so much anger and vitriol in your words for someone you've never met.

21 Re: Chiefs Shouldn't Discount Thigpen

I don't follow the Chiefs, but it seems like Thigpen got much better as the season went on, his stats for the first 4 games were horrific
38-90 (42.2%) 392 Yards 2 TDs 4 INTS (4.36 YPA)

But his last 10 games
192-330 (58.2%) 2257 Yards, 16 TDs 8INTs (6.84 YPA)

While I don't think one should completely discount the first four games. I do think there's something to be said for a QB to show improvement through a season, especially on a team with poor offensive skill players (Though, he did have Tony Gonzales, which is certainly great for a rookie QB)

If Thigpen was drafted in the first two rounds, would that even be a question? I'm really asking the question, I only saw him in limited action, maybe he hasn't shown as much as it seems. But those are pretty good numbers for a QB on a bad team in his first season, especially the 2nd half of the year. I would think management would be thrilled if their 1st/2nd round draft pick who had these numbers in his 2nd season (I know the Jets would have been last season).

22 Re: Chiefs Shouldn't Discount Thigpen

Snack Flag;

Fair enough, I suppose adding "clown" to my post was over the top. A retort if I may.

- I think Cassel is awesome. The guy has not started a game since HS, he probably thought he would sit on his ass behind Brady again and sign as a backup again somewhere else next year. He had a few rough games, but he stuck with it and ended up putting up very solid numbers. Also the Pats had a way better defense last year, and Cassel was forced to throw to win games. (Unlike last year when Brady did it to run up the score.) The biggest reason I like Cassel is that he improved game to game. Yes you can absolutely make the case that he has the best coaching staff working with him, but still he did what he had to do and won 11 games.

As far as T-Jax, well I really think he sucks. Dont forget that Berrian put up respectable numbers with Grossman throwing to him, so you cant completely blame Jacksons inability on his receivers. Also AP/Chester have a huge impact on the passing game. You have to keep 8 guys in the box to defend AP, which means one less guy in pass coverage. I also have no doubt that Childress hinders him, but thats kind of a chicken-egg argument, only if chicken and eggs were awful instead of delicious.

As far as VY goes, well I wont lie, I really don't like the guy. I see him saunter on the sidelines and it just seems like he has no interest whatsoever in the game. Athletically he should be far better than he is. Typically QB's start to turn the corner in their 3rd year, and my biggest issue with VY is that he has shown no improvement at all. Its not like Chilly is coaching the Titans, they have one of the games best coaches in Fisher. Also when you hear statements from Fisher and Adams about how they "expect VY to put his full effort into the off-season workouts"; if you read between the lines they are really saying that he isnt trying hard enough. This doesnt sit well with me, I love playing football (I was ok, I tried out for the CFL and didnt make it. Apparently the demand for short Canadian white guys that play RB isn't what it used to be.) and anytime I see a guy wasting his talent, well it makes my blood boil. Right or wrong, thats how I feel.

To contrast VY; take a look at Troy Smith. He very well could have been the Ravens starting QB, but the cards didnt fall that way for him. But he still is an asset to their team and they successfully implemented a "Suggs" package where Smith plays QB. Now VY is a way better athlete than Smith, and I think if VY had his head on right that Fisher would have certainly had a similar package. And come lets be honest, every sports fan has a player that just rubs them the wrong way, Vince happens to be mine. I happen to feel the same way about JP Losman, what a waste. Snack Flag you have one too right? Spill it, who is it?

I think the David Carr experiment could have gone either way. I kind of soured on him when the whole "wife makes me keep my wedding ring on when I play" thing came out. Not having Boselli and a good Veteran to learn from really hurt his chances. The guy was a pinata for 2 full years. I did think he would be awesome with Carolina, but he proved to be a guy that really hasnt improved either. He still is in the league though, probably a workout warrior who looks great in practice.

23 Re: Chiefs Shouldn't Discount Thigpen

Brett Favre is mine. I can't stand him even more now that PK wrote he hasn't been to a full offseason in something like 16 years. There's a guy who hasn't lived up to his potential. And I'm serious - he won one super bowl, and he's a deity. He's lost more playoff games than won, imo.

Regarding VY - Maybe he's just not that good. It's not like Vince was Peyton Manning with 4.5 speed coming out of college. He was a very raw product whose talent constantly won out on the field. Now that his talent is equal to the rest of the league, his flaws are just magnified more and no amount of teaching or practice is going to help that. He's always been able to run out of trouble and make plays on the run, so he never had to make quick decisions or move around in the pocket. To learn that for the first time in the NFL I imagine would be a very hard thing to do. Sure, he could probably handle failure better and not sulk, but we're also talking about someone who's not emotionally prepared to deal with that either. Every player has flaws, they're just more apparent in qbs and, therefore, we harp on them more.

I could argue about T-Jax all day, but here are two things I think:
1) From what I've heard about AP from Vikes fans, he's not much of a pass blocker, and Taylor's a better receiving option. Which means that maybe defenses have 8 in the box when AP's on the field, but it's also more than likely a run.
2.) If he was able to sit on the Pats bench, like Cassel, for 3 years and step into this offense, he would have had comparable numbers to Cassel. That's obviously only my opinion and a total hypothetical, but I think there's potential for T-Jax to be an average-above average qb in the right offense. Maybe you could make that case for anyone...