Quick. Name the hottest young quarterback in the league.
The answer very well might be
"He has been playing really well," said an AFC scout. "They have to be impressed with the way he has stepped up his game."
Thigpen, the Vikings' seventh-round pick in 2007, has completed 66 of 102 passes (64.7 percent) for 710 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions in his last three starts. His passer rating of 104.6 during that span ranks as the league's third-best, and only
With Thigpen playing exceptionally well, the Chiefs' sagging offense has shown signs of life. In the past three games (each lost in the waning minutes), the offense averaged 23.3 points, 351.0 total yards, including 238 yards passing. Compared to the Chiefs' first six games, the offense has improved by more than 10 points a game and over 93 yards a game in total offense.
So why did it take Kansas City so long to put him in the lineup?
The most logical answer is the presence of
Thigpen's sudden emergence has some observers viewing the former cast-off as a franchise-caliber quarterback, and the team appears to building the offense around his strengths.
Thigpen, who starred in a spread offense at Coastal Carolina, has benefited from offensive coordinator
The clever use of run-heavy personnel prevents defenses from substituting extra backs to match up with the Chiefs' open formations. With the linebackers and safeties forced to defend Bradley, Bowe and Gonzalez in space, Thigpen has picked apart coverage with quick rhythm throws. In addition, the spread formation has made it easier for him to identify potential blitzes, enabling him to counter by attacking the vulnerable spots in the defense.
"It just helps the young guy when he can spread the field out," Thigpen said earlier in the season. "Not necessarily a young guy, but any quarterback, it just helps when you can spread the defense out and you can see where the blitz is coming from."
Gailey has also helped his star pupil by increasing the use of their "Red Ball" offense in recent weeks. "Red Ball", the Chiefs' version of the no-huddle, is used to quicken the pace and keep defenses in simpler looks. Defensive coordinators are reluctant to aggressively come after the quarterback with a number of exotic blitzes when the game is moving at a frenetic pace. Thus, Thigpen has been able to attack while working in rhythm, and the results have been so impressive that the Chiefs are expanding their offense to feature more of the no-huddle, spread offense.
"I imagine we will broaden the playbook so we are at the point where everyone can just walk to the line and not huddle," Thigpen said on the team's Web site.
Thigpen's emergence has finally given the team a playmaker at quarterback and Gailey the freedom to open up his playbook. The Chiefs have spent the past two seasons trying to find a solution to their quarterback problem, but it appears an unheralded player from a little known school might just be the answer.
As Pro Bowl votes are cast in the coming weeks, one name that should garner serious consideration is
Drafted 12th overall by the Ravens, Ngata has an unbelievable combination of size, strength and power, and is the ideal interior defender in the Ravens' 3-4. He is stout enough to "two-gap" (play both sides of the center) as a nose tackle, but also possesses enough athleticism to work on the edges when shaded over an offensive guard as a "three-technique." Ngata's presence in the gap forces a double team, allowing linebackers
"We work to hold up guys for linebackers," Ngata told the
Although Ngata has been outstanding against the run, he is more than just a run-stopper. Defensive coordinator
The competition for the Pro Bowl defensive tackle position will be fierce with
While watching the Jets blanket
The Jets unveiled a hybrid "two-man bracket" coverage in the first half that effectively double-teamed Moss and Welker on passing downs. The scheme, which the Patriots used to frustrate
The Jets assigned
Though the Patriots eventually exploited the weakness by having Cassell extensively target