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Stats Point to Brodie Croyle, Not Tyler Thigpen, as Chiefs Starting Quarterback

Three games and three losses for the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs have scored 10, 13 and 10 points respectively this preseason and much of that low offensive production has to do with the team's inability to convert third downs to first downs.

I really like looking at third down conversation percentage as a measure of how powerful and effective an offense is. If you're able to convert a high percentage of third downs (>50%), it means your team is able to gain yards when it wants to. It means you have a certain element of control over the defense when you're able to "will" your way to a good number of third down conversions. Bottom line - it means your offense is effective.

So far this preseason, the Chiefs were terribly ineffective at converting third downs in two of their three games. Against the Texans, the Chiefs were 3/13 on third down conversions. They improved greatly against the Vikings, going 8/15.

The problems worsened yesterday against the Seahawks though. The Chiefs were 1/10 on third downs. Simply terrible.

So what's the problem? Well, as we always say, it is preseason so don't take anything too concrete away from this. But 4/23 in two games on third down deserves some extra attention, preseason or not.

I've broken the third downs up by game and by quarterback, which as it turns out is pretty interesting. In the great debate of which quarterback should get the starting nod in place of the injured Matt Cassel, in my opinion the following information points to Brodie Croyle as the deserving QB.

Tyler Thigpen has not converted a third down this preseason, which makes me a bit nervous.

Looking at the following third down stats in the context of how every QB has looked so far, I'm strongly in the Brodie Croyle starter camp. I think Jason Cole's report from last night suggesting Tyler Thigpen was the assumed starter was based on a quick glance at Saturday's box score to see who came in after Cassel went down.

After the jump, I take a look at every third down so far this preseason for the Chiefs and see what we can find out.

Let us know in the comments how you think these stats should affect Todd Haley's quarterback decision.

How the Chiefs Converted Third Downs

Overall, the Kansas City Chiefs are 12/38 (31.6%) this preseason. Nine of those first downs came via passes and the other three were on the ground. Two of those rushing first downs were by Dantrell Savage and the other was by Jackie Battle. Larry Johnson does not have a rushing first down on third down this preseason.

The passing first downs were a varied mix of Cassel, Croyle and Gutierrez passes on 3rd and more than 5 yards to get the first down.

Let's take a quick look at each game's third downs.

Chiefs v. Texans (3/13 on Third Down)

Game Play
1 Matt Cassel (1/4)
1 3-11-KC 22 (:43) (Shotgun) 7-M.Cassel pass short right to 81-D.Darling to KC 25 for 3 yards (98-C.Barwin).
1 3-1-KC 29 (12:04) 7-M.Cassel pass incomplete short right to 89-S.Ryan.
1 3-5-KC 24 (10:57) (Shotgun) 7-M.Cassel pass short left to 10-T.Copper to KC 36 for 12 yards (32-F.Bennett).
1 3-3-KC 21 (8:45) (Shotgun) 7-M.Cassel pass incomplete short right to 10-T.Copper. PENALTY on HST-39-A.J.Davis, Defensive Holding, 5 yards, enforced at KC 21 - No Play.
1 3-3-KC 43 (9:25) (Shotgun) 7-M.Cassel pass incomplete short right to 10-T.Copper (41-B.McCain).
1 Brodie Croyle (1/5)
1 3-1-KC 31 (:39) (Shotgun) 12-B.Croyle pass short middle to 83-M.Bradley to KC 45 for 14 yards (27-M.Richardson).
1 3-2-KC 20 (13:36) (Shotgun) 12-B.Croyle pass incomplete short right to 14-Q.Lawrence. PENALTY on HST-36-M.Parson, Defensive Pass Interference, 5 yards, enforced at KC 20 - No Play.
1 3-5-KC 28 (3:50) (Shotgun) 12-B.Croyle sacked at KC 20 for -8 yards (98-C.Barwin).
1 3-8-KC 27 (12:22) (Shotgun) 12-B.Croyle pass short middle to 14-Q.Lawrence to KC 34 for 7 yards (36-M.Parson).
1 3-4-HOU 25 (9:16) 12-B.Croyle pass short right to 29-D.Savage to HST 24 for 1 yard (27-M.Richardson).
1 3-10-HOU 41 (:13) (Shotgun) 12-B.Croyle pass incomplete short right to 14-Q.Lawrence.
1 Tyler Thigpen (0/3)
1 3-22-KC 35 (:33) 4-T.Thigpen pass incomplete short middle to 14-Q.Lawrence (50-C.June).
1 3-14-KC 13 (14:56) (Shotgun) 4-T.Thigpen pass short left to 9-T.Johnson to KC 20 for 7 yards (27-M.Richardson).
1 3-5-KC 25 (2:20) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 4-T.Thigpen pass incomplete short right to 14-Q.Lawrence. Penalty on KC, Illegal Motion, declined.
1 3-5-HOU 5 (6:32) (Shotgun) 4-T.Thigpen pass incomplete short left to 80-J.Webb (27-M.Richardson). PENALTY on HST-27-M.Richardson, Defensive Pass Interference, 4 yards, enforced at HST 5 - No Play.
1 Other
1 3-1-KC 33 (1:01) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 29-D.Savage left guard to KC 47 for 14 yards (40-J.Busing).
1 3-6-KC 27 (1:27) (Shotgun) PENALTY on KC-76-B.Albert, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at KC 27 - No Play.

One third down conversion for Cassel; one for Croyle; and one for Dantrell Savage. Not a whole lot to take away from this except to say that after watching this game, no quarterback had the offense in a real rhythm at any point.

Thigpen got himself into a bit more trouble with some longer third downs that ended up being drive killers for the Chiefs. Croyle did play pretty decently this game, going 12/18 for 145 yards.

This first game is definitely in Croyle's favor as Todd Haley selects a new starting quarterback this week.

Chiefs v. Vikings (8/15 on Third Downs)

Game Play
2 Matt Cassel (2/4)
2 3-10-KC 44 (1:06) (Shotgun) 7-M.Cassel scrambles up the middle to KC 46 for 2 yards (30-A.Allen).
2 3-14-KC 44 (2:13) (Shotgun) 7-M.Cassel sacked at KC 35 for -9 yards (22-B.Sapp). FUMBLES (22-B.Sapp), recovered by KC-[67o] at KC 33.
2 3-15-KC 28 (4:48) (Shotgun) 7-M.Cassel pass short right to 25-J.Charles pushed ob at KC 48 for 20 yards (20-M.Williams).
2 3-8-MIN 36 (8:29) (Shotgun) 7-M.Cassel pass short right to 82-D.Bowe to MIN 23 for 13 yards (20-M.Williams). Play Challenged by MIN and Upheld. (Timeout #1.)
2 Brodie Croyle (2/4)
2 3-10-KC 30 (14:45) (Shotgun) 12-B.Croyle pass short middle to 29-D.Savage to KC 37 for 7 yards (54-J.Brinkley).
2 3-10-MIN 39 (7:39) (Shotgun) 12-B.Croyle pass deep middle to 13-A.Toomer to MIN 23 for 16 yards (24-M.Walker).
2 3-5-MIN 46 (8:25) (Shotgun) 12-B.Croyle pass short left to 83-M.Bradley to MIN 39 for 7 yards (24-M.Walker).
2 3-6-MIN 19 (5:46) (Shotgun) 12-B.Croyle pass incomplete short right to 29-D.Savage.
2 3-9-KC 19 (11:11) (Shotgun) 12-B.Croyle pass incomplete deep middle to 14-Q.Lawrence. PENALTY on MIN-98-L.Guion, Roughing the Passer, 15 yards, enforced at KC 19 - No Play.
2 Matt Gutierrez (2/3)
2 3-10-KC 47 (2:26) (Shotgun) 15-M.Gutierrez pass short right to 9-T.Johnson to MIN 42 for 11 yards (41-K.Paymah).
2 3-4-KC 40 (2:41) (Shotgun) 15-M.Gutierrez pass short right to 14-Q.Lawrence pushed ob at KC 47 for 7 yards (41-K.Paymah).
2 3-4-KC 45 (6:35) 15-M.Gutierrez pass incomplete short right to 14-Q.Lawrence.
2 Other
2 3-1-KC 39 (15:00) 26-J.Battle right end to KC 40 for 1 yard (99-O.Grigsby). PENALTY on KC, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at KC 40. Penalty on KC-43-T.Gafford, Unnecessary Roughness, declined.
2 3-10-KC 33 (4:48) (Shotgun) PENALTY on KC-67-P.Walters, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at KC 33 - No Play.
2 3-1-KC 42 (1:40) (Shotgun) 29-D.Savage right guard to KC 44 for 2 yards (96-B.Robison).
2 3-1-KC 43 (10:20) 26-J.Battle up the middle to KC 49 for 6 yards (54-J.Brinkley).
2 3-1-MIN 1 (:21) 26-J.Battle up the middle to MIN 1 for no gain (61-M.Burnett, 73-J.Kennedy).
2 3-1-MIN 14 (6:44) 27-L.Johnson right guard to MIN 14 for no gain (52-C.Greenway).

Every Chiefs quarterback had success on third downs against the Minnesota Vikings. A +50% conversion rate is solid. There were a couple rushing stuffs on third and short, which seems to be an issue of increasing severity as we further scrutinize this offensive line.

About half of the third to first down conversions occurred because of great plays by Jamaal Charles, Amani Toomer and Dwayne Bowe.

Obviously, based on Thigpen not playing, Croyle again gets a step ahead on the starting job next week.

Chiefs v. Seahawks (1/10)

Game Play
3 Tyler Thigpen (0/6)
3 3-1- (7:15) 4-T.Thigpen FUMBLES (Aborted) at 50, recovered by KC-27-L.Johnson at KC 47.
3 3-11-KC 45 (12:24) 4-T.Thigpen right end to KC 48 for 3 yards (97-P.Kerney).
3 3-13-KC 10 (2:22) (Shotgun) 4-T.Thigpen pass incomplete short left to 25-J.Charles.
3 3-13-KC 37 (3:55) (Shotgun) 4-T.Thigpen scrambles left end pushed ob at KC 44 for 7 yards (27-J.Babineaux).
3 3-1-SEA 49 (1:13) 4-T.Thigpen pass short middle to 82-D.Bowe to SEA 46 for 3 yards (31-K.Lucas). PENALTY on SEA-24-D.Grant, Illegal Contact, 5 yards, enforced at SEA 49 - No Play.
3 3-5-KC 32 (9:17) 4-T.Thigpen pass incomplete short middle to 82-D.Bowe (51-L.Tatupu).
3 3-7-SEA 10 (13:50) 4-T.Thigpen pass incomplete short right to 82-D.Bowe (21-K.Jennings).
3 Matt Gutierrez (1/3)
3 3-10-KC 18 (2:54) (Shotgun) 15-M.Gutierrez pass short middle to 11-R.Wright to KC 34 for 16 yards (52-D.Lewis).
3 3-22-KC 49 (1:13) (Shotgun) 15-M.Gutierrez pass intended for 13-A.Toomer INTERCEPTED by 54-W.Herring at SEA 38. 54-W.Herring to SEA 45 for 7 yards (29-D.Savage).
3 3-9-SEA 18 (12:33) (Shotgun) 15-M.Gutierrez pass short right to 26-J.Battle to SEA 17 for 1 yard (59-A.Curry).
3 Other
3 3-2-SEA 49 (5:27) 27-L.Johnson up the middle to SEA 48 for 1 yard (92-B.Mebane).
3 3-5-KC 23 (3:30) (Shotgun) PENALTY on KC-41-T.Crabtree, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at KC 23 - No Play.

The bottom line right now is that Tyler Thigpen has not converted a third down this preseason in two games of action. That's a bit scary.

What do you say to that? I hope he converts his first third down in the regular season? I don't know.

Even before you mention Brodie Croyle, it's pretty clear right now that Tyler Thigpen is not able to run this offense effectively for two quarters, let alone an entire game. He's reverted to the original Tyler Thigpen we saw early last season against the Falcons. The guy who made you gasp every time he threw the ball over 10 yards.

The clock may have struck midnight for Tyler Thigpen after this preseason.


Make sure you vote in the poll and let us know who you think should be the Kansas City Chiefs' starting quarterback in Week 1 of the 2009 regular season.

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