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Juan Thornhill says Chiefs see Jarrett Stidham as a ‘gunslinger’

In Week 17, the Las Vegas quarterback looked much improved from when Kansas City last saw him.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Las Vegas Raiders Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs narrowly achieved a 30-29 win over the Las Vegas Raiders on GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 5’s edition of Monday Night Football. Few lessons of the win, however, likely apply to Saturday’s matchup — when the Chiefs travel to Sin City to close out the regular season.

For the first time since 2013, quarterback Derek Carr will not suit up for the rivalry. The longtime Las Vegas starter was benched for Week 17’s contest against the San Francisco 49ers. Carr has since been excused from the team for the remainder of the season.

Backup Jarrett Stidham took the reins against one of the league’s best teams, playing unexpectedly well in the Raiders’ 37-34 overtime loss. Against an elite 49ers defense, Stidham completed 23 of 34 passes for 365 yards with three touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.

Speaking after practice Wednesday, Chiefs safety Juan Thornhill made it clear that Kansas City defenders have taken notice — and that Stidham cannot be approached as a typical backup.

“He’s a really good quarterback,” Thornhill said of the passer. “We see him as a gunslinger. The guy — he’s super confident. You would think that since he was a backup, he’ll come in and be a little shaky. But I watched the game last weekend, and he stepped up and played a heck of a game.

“I think he played one of the best games, probably, that they’ve had all season. I think he can control it — he can move the ball — and we just have to focus in and show up to play. Because the Raiders are a really good team.”

New England Patriots v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Chiefs last faced Stidham in their 26-10 victory over the New England Patriots in Week 4 of the 2020 season. The former Auburn Tiger entered the game in the third quarter in relief of Brian Hoyer — already making a spot-start for the Patriots because Cam Newton had been sidelined by COVID. Stidham completed only five passes with a touchdown and two interceptions — with former Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu returning the first pick 25 yards for a touchdown.

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