Days since the Tennessee Titans game that decimated half the Miami Dolphins starters, one player in particular remained on everyone’s radar. Looming concerns of quarterback Chad Henne not playing this Thursday’s game against the Chicago Bears became reality sometime yesterday afternoon as coach Tony Sparano confirmed the Fins would be starting third-string QB Tyler Thigpen. Henne is recovering from a dislocated knee injury but will be active as the third-string QB for Thursday behind newly signed Patrick Ramsey. Thigpen is adamant that he is prepared and ready to prove that he should be a starting NFL quarterback. A side-by-side comparison of Thigpen versus Henne may prove him right as Thursday night sits in our backdrop.
A little NFL history on Thigpen: Originally drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 2007, Thigpen was picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs after pre-season waivers and sat behind Trent Green and Damon Huard before becoming a starter in 2008 after the first 2 games of the season, very similar to Henne’s NFL history. He started off 2009 with the Chiefs and was traded to Miami after the acquisition of Matt Castle from the New England Patriots. He played one game in ’09 for the Fins; the memorable Pittsburgh Steelers game when Henne was knocked out and back-up Pat White was concussed. Thigpen completed 4 passes for 83 yards, with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions for a reasonable 87 percent QB rating. Since, he played at the end of the disaster Patriots game this year and this past Sunday with a beautiful 4th quarter touchdown drive.
So how does Thigpen match up against Henne? The stats show Henne is a more accurate passer with an all-time 62 percent completion percentage compared to Thigpen’s 54 percent (Henne 60 to Thigpen’s 54 percent in their 14-game seasons) however, Thigpen beats Henne on the backend. Taking into consideration that Thigpen has played in 7 less games than Henne, he has thrown for 20 touchdown’s all-time, only one less than Henne, with a 4.5 percent touchdown percentage compared to Henne’s 2.7 (Thigpen’s 4.3 percent to Henne’s 2.7 percent in their 14-game seasons). With the touchdown woes of the Dolphins 2010 season thus far, Thigpen can make his mark by putting up touchdowns instead of settling for field goals.
It was brought to my attention early this week that Thigpen has thrown for less interceptions (16) then Henne (25) all-time but has played 7 less games. Henne also has a slightly lower interception percentage at 3.3 percent compared to Thigpen’s 3.6. During their 14-game seasons, Henne did throw 14 interceptions compared to Thigpen’s 12 with a 3.1 interception percentage compared to Thigpen’s 2.9 percent. Henne gets the edge with an all-time 76.9 passer rating compared to Thigpen’s 73.6. Thigpen has a slightly higher percentage at 76 percent for his 14-game season compared to Henne’s 75.2. Their fumbles remain equal at 6 with Thigpen losing 2 and Henne losing 0.
A positive to Thigpen’s game is that he is an out-of-pocket quarterback and has rushed for 406 yards overall compared to Henne’s dismal 50. He’s been sacked 27 times compared to Henne’s 39 all-time. A stat that can be claimed as partial is Thigpen’s longest pass completion, which was 75 yards compared to Henne’s at 67. He also has 4 40-plus yardage pass completions compared to Henne’s 7 and 32 20-plus yardage pass completions compared to Henne’s 47 all-time.
Neither Thigpen nor Henne is the complete quarterback package but it’s clear there is urgency in scoring more touchdowns and completing bigger pass plays, especially with the weapons the Miami Dolphins have this season. If Henne would start and finish every game for the rest of this season, he would be on par to complete 18 touchdowns, the same Thigpen completed in his 2008 14-game season on a 2-14 team with no notable receivers. Thigpen’s ability to scramble and gain yardage outside the pocket will be noticed by freezing defenses and stacking more men at the defensive line, hopefully freeing up the Miami receivers. With a better offensive line than Thigpen is use to, with better receivers than Thigpen is use to; with an overall better team than Thigpen is use to, we might see a sparkle in an unforeseen star.