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Miami Dolphins: What's to be gained by playing Chad Henne? Start Tyler Thigpen.

MIAMI - NOVEMBER 14:  Quarterback Tyler Thigpen #16 of the Miami Dolphins passes against the Tennessee Titans at Sun Life Stadium on November 14 2010 in Miami Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
MIAMI - NOVEMBER 14: Quarterback Tyler Thigpen #16 of the Miami Dolphins passes against the Tennessee Titans at Sun Life Stadium on November 14 2010 in Miami Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
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First, let me say that I don't usually post twice in one day, but consider this a sort of "olive branch" to the folks that are still too fired up and angry about the season to find the humor in my regular Wednesday post this morning.  They were looking for something more "substantial" as we head into the last week of OUR season, so here you go!

Now, to the point, we all know the season is over, and most of us have seen enough of Chad Henne to draw the conclusion that we can't rely on him being the quarterback of the future.  So why not take a good look at Tyler Thigpen in this last game?  I doubt it will happen, but what would we have to lose?

Living in AFC West country, I watched Thiggy play when he was on the Chefs. He is pretty good, with the biggest knock on him being his happy feet. He would look downfield and then take off if he didn’t see anything, instead of waiting a couple seconds longer for something to develop. Of course, Thigpen had Dwayne Bowe as his only real deep threat to look for, and he was often double covered.

Now supposedly the Miami Dolphins have been working with Thigpen on staying in the pocket and looking to pass first, instead of just take off. He definitely has the arm. If he can develop into more of a passer, he could be a dual threat, like Aaron Rodgers. But he needs consistent work with the first team Offense to find out what he can do. That hasn’t happened here yet. He did pretty well in KC when he had that shot.

Given Tony Sparano’s Big Chicken Dance he does whenever someone proposes the idea of change, I doubt we will see Thigpen get a prolonged shot until Sparano is gone. This is the main reason I wouldn't expect to see Sparano pull Henne.  But with one game left, the QB position an issue, and when talent evaluation should be the priority, he should!

It’s amazing to me that the people who want to give Henne a chance to develop, believe that Thigpen is already done.  Most of those that I hear saying Tyler Thigpen has had his shot, point to the Chicago Bears game..... really?  You think that was a fair evaluation of his abilities?

The Chicago Meltdown

Thigpen didn’t even get a back up Center. He got Richie Incognito – moving over from Left Guard – playing Center. Incognito is good, and I think the Fins should keep him at Center, but in that game he was not ready.  As noble an effort as was made, if you watched the game you notice Thigpen trying to pick up a good number of snaps off the turf, and getting pass rushers coming at him right over the Center and Guard spots. And because Incognito moved to Center, we had a backup playing the LG spot, with Jake Long trying to take on Julius Peppers with one arm tied behind his back.

That O-line gave up SIX sacks. Oh and did I forget to mention that out of the 39 yards rushing by the Dolphins, Thigpen had 27 of those yards? So he took six sacks, and probably avoided another six by scrambling. With no support of a running game to speak of.

No, there is no way that Thigpen got the benefit of playing behind the same normally crappy O-line that Henne had the benefit of playing behind most of the year – Thigpen got his one start behind the backup-backup crappy O-line. I doubt Henne would have faired much better.


Thigpen Has Potential

Thigpen played pretty well in KC with an inferior supporting cast. And by all accounts this year, he has improved as a pocket passer. But the one game against the Bears was hardly a fair opportunity to judge his progress.

Thigpen has had only 1 partial season to start, and a total of 21 games he has gotten playing time in, compared to 2 seasons and 30 games for Henne, and yet Thigpen is done, but Henne still needs time to develop? Really?

The one season TT played for most of the year in KC, he racked up 2608 passing yards, 386 rushing yards, 18 TDs against 12 INTs for a QB rating of 76%. He started one game in Week 3, then came in Week 8 and started the rest of the season.

Thigpen may not be "the guy", but he has certainly not been proven a failure at this point in his career.

I have seen Thigpen detractors take a number like career comp % and base their entire argument on that one number, without understanding what that number represents. That number might be reasonable measurement for a player with 60 starts under his belt, but is a much less significant indicator of performance for a player with 10 or 15 career starts.  It also will tend to be lower in a Quarterback that takes more shots downfield, and uses less checkdown passes.

If you don’t understand the significance of this number, I can see how you would just look up his total stats on a web page and latch on to this as the complete indicator of his talent. But if you take a look at what makes up that number, you realize that with a limited number of games, this number can fluctuate drastically based on 1 or 2 performances.

Unless the guy has played several seasons and has enough consecutive starts, picking out any one stats can be very misleading.  And "Passer Rating" tends to be a better overall measurement of a QB’s effectiveness than just completion percentage, because it takes into account other factors like passing yardage, TDs, and INTs.


So if you REALLY want to look at Thigpen’s performance indicators, and aren’t just looking for rocks to throw, then try looking at the one season in which Thigpen had a chance to rack up 10 consecutive starts – 2008.

The one season TT played for most of the year in KC, he racked up 2608 passing yards, 386 rushing yards, 18 TDs against 12 INTs for a QB rating of 76%. He started one game in Week 3, then came in Week 8 and started the rest of the season.


A Comparison to Chad Henne



In the 10 consecutive games he started from Week 8 on that year, he threw for 2216 yds, 16 TDs to 8 INTs, and ran for another 325 yd and 2 TDs for a total of 2541 yds and 18 TDs, with 19 sacks. He had a comp % of 58.7 and a Passer rating of just over 84%.

Wouldn't you just LOVE to see Chad Henne's stats look like this over his last 10 games?  This is a good indicator of what Thigpen can accomplish when given a consistent opportunity to work with the same starting group over an extended period of time.

And during those 10 games, the Chiefs Offense put up 21.6 points per game. The Chiefs LOST that season because the Defense was horrible, allowing an average of 27.5 points/gm.



Henne, by contrast, in his first 12 starts of this season, for a total of 2712 yds, 13 passing TDs, 15 INTs, no rushing TDs, 24 sacks, with a completion % of 59.6 and a Passer rating of 76.7%.

(I didn't add in last weeks Detriot Lions numbers yet, so you could add in a TD and a couple of INTs, but it won't change the point)

 Henne has a slightly higher completion %, but Thigpen has the better passer rating, because he played much more efficiently than Henne.

During these 12 games, the Fins Offense has scored an average of 17.5 points per game, and the D has allowed 19 points/gm.

Based on just this comparison, I would have to conclude that Tyler Thigpen has potential to be better than Henne.

Is he? Who knows. Not me, not you. Not Sparano.  And THAT is the problem!

I am not suggesting that he is. Only that without giving him a chance to run with the starters, behind a reasonably solid O-line, for a few weeks, it is hard to get a good read on his ability. He definitely has potential, and he has had less opportunity than Henne to develop.


The plan was always to develop Thigpen after we acquired him from the Kansas City Chiefs.  I wrote this back in early March of this season:


Say it with me.... Tyler Thigpen....  The name just sorta rolls off of your tongue, doesn't it?  No?  Well, it doesn't really matter what it sounds like because T² is the new number 2!

According to the Herald, Thigpen is the backup to Henne, and CP10 is third string.

When Pennington met with Bill Parcells on the day after his conversation with Warner, they came to the mutual decision that Pennington would likely enter training camp as the third quarterback in the rotation for repetitions behind both Henne and Tyler Thigpen.

It's a move that will allow Thigpen to continue developing as a No. 2 quarterback (he'll get more repetitions in camp), while also allowing Pennington to make a full, patient recovery from last year's shoulder surgery.

Personally, I think this is good news, because Henne will be able to focus on being "the guy", and Thigpen actually has potential that I would like to see explored.  But the most interesting aspect of the lineup isn't about who is third.... it is about who is out.  Pat White will be the 4th guy, which in general football terms mean "extra".

I will be very curious to see what this means for White.


Well, Pat White is gone, Chad Pennington is gone, and we have concluded that Chad Henne might be gone - to not evaluate Tyler Thigpen is grossly irresponsible on the part of the coaching staff, and is a good reason that THEY should be gone as well!