Tyler Thigpen's Solid Play Improves Chiefs' Chances Against Saints on Sunday

Alan LupianiCorrespondent INovember 12, 2008

I picked the Chargers to handle the Chiefs this past Sunday but I knew it would be a tougher game than most thought.

Afterall, the Chiefs easily covered the fifteen point spread.

The Bolts survived with a 20-19 victory at the Murph because of a bit of good fortune.

The Chiefs had missed an extra point earlier in the game, resulting in Herm Edwards deciding to go for a two-point conversion and the win after the Chiefs had scored a touchdown and were down by one point with 23 seconds left in regulation.

The two-point conversion attempt failed, as Thigpen's pass was knocked down in the end zone. However, this play remains as a minor footnote to an otherwise fantastic day for Chiefs quaterback, Tyler Thigpen.

Thats right! Tyler "Thrill A Minute" Thigpen captured the spotlight from start to finish. Thigpen's numbers were All-Pro like this past Sunday, as he completed 27 of 41 passes for 266 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions against the Chargers.

Unknown before this season, Tyler Thigpen has pushed the hapless Chiefs to the brink of victory three weeks running. It all began in Week Eight against the New York Jets on a windy day at the Meadowlands. 

According to CBS analyst Dan Dierdorf, Thigpen appeared to be oblivious to the pressure that goes along with playing on the center stage of a nationally televised game.

The "young gun" eagerly took on the challenge and played exceptionally well, completing 25 of 36 passes for 280 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions.

More importantly, Tyler gave his team a sense of hope in an otherwise meaningless season. The Chiefs almost stole the show from the blundering Jets, as the Jets narrowly escaped, scoring a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, winning the game 28-24.

Tyler Beckham Thigpen, was born on Apr. 14, 1984 in Winnsboro, NC. According to Wikipedia, Thigpen was the first quarterback in Coastal Carolina University history, as the school started its football program in 2003. Thigpen lead the Chanticleers to a 30-8 record in his four years (2003 - 2006) as the starter. 

He earned Big South Player of the Year honors in 2006, his senior year,  after racking up some impressive statistics against the likes of conference foes, James Madison and Furman. He threw for 3,296 yards, completing 217 of 339 passes for 29 touchdowns, and ran the ball 656 yards on 113 carries that resulted in five touchdowns.

After his college days, Thigpen was then chosen in the seventh round (217th overall) of the 2007 draft by the Vikings and picked up by the Chiefs after being released by the Vikings in September 2007.

Thigpen reminds me of another great Chief quarterback, Hall of Famer, Joe Montana, albeit being a more "Robo Joe" version. Tyler stands at 6'1", one inch shorter than the 6'2" Montana, yet he carries much more weight at 224 pounds compared to Montana's 197 pounds.

Overall, it's Tyler's calm and cool pocket presence, gliding footwork, and naturally fluid throwing motion that remind me most of the "comeback kid."

This young quarterback has been nothing short of remarkable in his past two starts, beginning with Tampa Bay in Week Nine: 14-25, 164 yards passing, one touchdown, zero interceptions, and this past Sunday's game against San Diego: 27-41, 266 yards passing, three touchdowns, zero interceptions.

Unfortunately for the Chiefs, both games resulted in heartbreaking losses, but the Chiefs just keep coming back stronger!

A bounce here, a play there, and the Chiefs are looking a 4-5, instead of 1-8. Thigpen gets much of the credit. He has earned the respect of the teammates and this could be seen against the Chargers. 

The Chief offense looked unstoppable on their final drive against the Bolts with under a minute left. Veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez hauled in a great Thigpen pass for a touchdown with twenty-three seconds remaining and the Chiefs looked nothing like their abysmal record might indicate.

This week, the Chiefs take on gunslinger Drew Brees and the 4-5 New Orleans Saints who are coming off a tough 34-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. At first glance, I  believe the Chiefs match up well against the Saints.

For one, the Chiefs talented secondary (six interceptions in the last three games) will be locked in and ready to challenge the pass happy Saints.

Secondly, the Saints look vulnerable after giving up 66 points in their last two games.  Currently, the Saints rank 27th against the pass and 19th against the run. That being said, Thigpen will get ample opportunities to lead the Chiefs to their second win of the season at home this Sunday.

In closing, it will be interesting to see how the Chiefs handle Thigpen's contract situation next year. The Chiefs have Thigpen signed on until 2011, when he becomes a free agent. He will make $370,000 this season, $460,000 in 2009, and $550,000 in 2010. 

Could this be another Tony Romo situation, where the Chiefs make a long term offer to Thigpen next year if he finishes out strong this season? It may be too early to tell, and rumor has it, that the Chiefs will be drafting a quarterback regardless.

The Chiefs will get a shot at a top college quarterbacks with their anticipated high draft position. Could Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel be in a Chiefs uniform next year? That would be a great story. Daniel's size may be a concern, but we all know this guy can play.

Also, Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford or Texas Tech's Graham Harrell will undoubtedly be on the Chiefs draft day radar as well.

Lastly, free agency may play a part in this story as well with quarterbacks Matt Cassel, Kyle Boller, Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman, Jeff Garcia, J.P. Losman, Charlie Batch, and yes, possible MVP Kurt Warner becoming free agents at the end of this season.  

At the end of the day, Tyler Thigpen's story has been a bright light in an NFL season that has seen its share of off the field player problems, fines, suspensions, and midseason coaching changes. 

Will Thigpen be next Joe Montana? It may be too early to tell, but the early signs for Tyler "The Thrill" Thigpen look promising.