The time is now to see what Brady Quinn can do. Unlike the classless fools who were cheering the fact that Matt Cassel sustained a head injury, I am not happy that he got hurt. However, the fact that he is means that this is the most sensible to move things over to Quinn.
It can be justified by saying that they want to make sure Cassel is fully healthy before putting him on the field and if Quinn plays well, then no further explanation will be needed as to why he is out there. If he struggles, they can put a healthy Cassel back in there in a few games and claim it was the plan all along.
But what are we really going to get out of Quinn? Quinn is a player who has played hot and cold his whole career and played in just 15 NFL games, throwing a total of 356 passes. But, since he threw almost all of those passes in Cleveland, he’s an unknown player for most NFL-watchers.
ESPN’s Scouts Inc. write-up on him notes, “He looks the part and puts up great numbers in workouts as well as the weight room but has struggled to transfer the numbers to the field. He does not have much of a feel for the pass rush and tends to hold on to the ball too long. He struggles to throw the deep ball with accuracy.”
That last bit sounds quite familiar.
One way or the other though I wanted to watch Quinn in a full game before passing judgment. Because we just played the Ravens, I thought it would make sense to go back and watch Quinn against his former division rival to compare him with Cassel. Quinn lost the job to Derek Anderson (which should tell you something) in the middle of the team’s Week 3 game against Baltimore. But, by the time the Ravens came to Cleveland in Week 10, Quinn was back as the starter.
But, after seeing the box score, I decided that game would be a snoozer. The Browns lost 16-0 and Quinn went 13/31 (41.9%) for 99 yards, 0 TD’s, 2 INT’s. Cassel’s line for the day yesterday was 9/15 (60%) for 92 yards and 2 INT’s. In other words, the last time Quinn played the Ravens he threw more and was less effective than Cassel.
But, I figured Quinn deserved a better look than that. So, I decided to go back a game. Cassel was also bad against the Chargers last week, and it just so happened that the Quinn-led Browns played San Diego in Week 13 of the 2009 season.
It turns out that this game was probably the best of Quinn’s career. He went 25/45 (55%) for 271 yards, 3 TD’s, 0 INT’s. While the Chargers were able to march all over the Browns putrid defense, Quinn kept them in this one to the end, eventually falling 30-23.
On the opening drive, Quinn looked sharp and the whole offense had an up-tempo feel. He ended up taking them down for a score and was 6/6 for 61 yards and missile TD to his tight end. It was exactly the type of opening drive that Chiefs have totally failed to muster under Romeo Crennel. With Brian Daboll calling the plays, Quinn in this game continued to look poised and in control, throwing several good 3rd-down passes on his second read.
Watching a game from three seasons ago is a surreal experience and it shows you how quickly things change in the NFL. At the time this game was played, Indianapolis was 12-0. LT was still playing for the Chargers. S Abram Elam, playing for the Browns, allowed an easy TD to Mike Tolbert.
But, as brilliant as Quinn looked in the first quarter, as the game went on he started looking like Matt Cassel more and more. While he managed to not fumble the ball on a 4th-down QB sneak, he allowed himself to be stripped while scrambling on 3rd & Goal. In the end, he finished the first half with 12/20 (60%) for 159 yards, 1 TD, one fumble. All and all, not bad.
Although he managed to get another couple touchdowns in the game, he looked downright bad during large stretches of the second half. Most of his yardage came from YAC after checkdowns. Due to his inaccuracy, at some point Daboll put Josh Cribbs in for an entire drive of wildcat, which Quinn capped off with a short touchdown.
Everyone knows he has guns, but he seemed too eager to show it. All of his throws are bullets, which causes a high amount of drops because the receivers don’t have time to adjust to the ball and it comes in with such a velocity that it bounces off their hands. He beaned his TE in the head on a slant when he wasn’t even looking. Granted, the Browns have had a motley crew of awful receivers for a decade, but he missed several of his guys by a mile. Overall in the game, he missed everything he threw deep and even managed to miss his running backs on checkdowns several times.
And, again, this was probably his best game.
The moral of the story is that the Chiefs need to put Quinn in. Cassel is hurt and hasn’t been very effective. It’s possible that Quinn has improved his game in the last three years. Still though, if his tape is any indication, Quinn is not going to be an improvement over Cassel.
But, I’m not sure he necessarily needs to be more skilled than Cassel, just more efficient. If he can keep the ball moving and not turn it over, than the Chiefs “brawling” (to borrow a phrase from Eric Winston) gameplan can work.
I’m excited to see what he can do, but I think Chiefs fans should have no illusions – this guy is not going to take us to the promised land.