Archive for Sunday, November 2, 2008

Perceptions of Thigpen changing

Kansas City quarterback responds after being thrust into starting assignment

November 2, 2008


— In the eyes of most Kansas City fans, it took Tyler Thigpen only two games to go from being the worst quarterback in the NFL to being the most improved.

Like magic, he seems to have gone from symbolizing all that's wrong with the Chiefs to offering hope for a brighter future.

When the husky, excitable pride of Coastal Carolina threw three interceptions at Atlanta on Sept. 21, coach Herm Edwards was ridiculed for even giving him his first NFL start.

But after Thigpen shocked everyone last week by nearly leading the quarterback-cursed Chiefs to victory over the Jets, Edwards is pleading with fans not to expect too much.

"Let's don't anoint him now," Edwards cautioned.

The truth is, nobody knows which quarterback will show up today when Thigpen makes career start No. 3 against Tampa Bay's fast and savvy defense. Will it be the seemingly helpless kid who flung the ball all over the field in a 38-14 loss in Atlanta?

Or might we see the cool and confident leader who threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns and did not get intercepted at the Meadowlands?

Edwards is sure curious. Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden is wondering, too.

"What fan isn't? What news crew isn't?" said Thigpen. "They're definitely looking to see it happen two weeks in a row."

While the young, rebuilding Chiefs (1-6) are desperate just to get their second victory in more than a calendar year, the Bucs (5-3) are only one game behind Carolina in the NFC South. Gruden, who has molded a few quarterbacks in his day, tends to think Thigpen is getting better.

"Sometimes all a young guy needs is somebody to sustain confidence and sustain belief in him," Gruden said. "And a little success can go a long way. I think that's what (Thigpen) found in New York. Maybe the light went on."

Helping to flip the switch was a bold strategy shift. The Chiefs adjusted their attack to suit Thigpen, going no-huddle much of the time and practically evolving into a college-type spread offense similar to what he ran his senior season at tiny Coastal Carolina.

It caught the ill-prepared Jets off-guard. Now forewarned, the Bucs are not likely to be so unsuspecting.

"Is Coastal Carolina in North or South Carolina?" Tampa cornerback Ronde Barber asked with a chuckle.

Until the Bucs began watching film of Thigpen this week, Barber confessed, "We knew absolutely nothing about him. Didn't know who he was. But he looks real athletic and he can throw on the run."

With his linebacker-like physique, the 6-foot-1, 225-pound Thigpen is a threat to run any time. That's one reason he was successful in the college spread. But the Chiefs have been telling him all week - ordering him, commanding him, begging him - to slide and protect himself.

After losing Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard for the year, the last thing they need is a season-ending injury to Thigpen. Standing behind him is Quinn Gray, a former Jacksonville backup who was signed off the street only two weeks ago.


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