So here’s the scenario the Browns find themselves in with Brady Quinn. The team is 1-9 with six games to go coming off perhaps the most humiliating loss of the last five years. We’re entering that funny part of the season, where the Browns annually tend to play their worst football. This is when the team is tired of losing and tired of putting in the effort and not seeing any results for their hard work. It’s frustrating for the players and frustrating for the fans. And it’s in this climate that the Browns are now forced to decipher what can be salvaged of Brady Quinn’s career.
On the season Quinn’s numbers look as such: six games, five starts. 80-141 (56.7%) for 812 yards (5.76 yards per attempt). Five TD, five interceptions. That’s a QB rating of 70.4. Not the most inspiring numbers, but also not the black hole of QB play that Derek Anderson has been. But the question is, has Brady Quinn done enough for the Browns to make a decision either way on his future in Cleveland? As of three days ago, I was convinced the Browns should just wipe the slate clean and be done with him. I was probably wrong, though.
A while back, I interviewed Cavalier Attitude’s Amar Panchmatia, and he said something that has always resonated with me. When I asked him about the signing of Little Larry Hughes, he said:
“I tried to envision Laura Hughes as “The Answer” to all the Cavs’ non-LeBron related problems. The injury history was what bothered me right off the bat, and I’m telling you the truth when I say that that’s the very first thing that came to my mind. I was positive and upbeat about it, but to be honest with you, I had to talk myself into it. Usually with moves that make you better, you don’t have to talk yourself into it. Getting Michael Redd or Joe Johnson wouldn’t have required into “talking into it.” Hughes did. That should have been my red flag right there.”
That really makes a lot of sense to me, and I did the same thing when the Browns drafted Brady Quinn. Going into that draft, I was not a Brady Quinn fan at all. I had just seen my Ohio State Buckeyes make Quinn a complete non factor in the Fiesta Bowl, and I had my doubts about just how good (or not) Quinn really was. But when the Browns drafted him, I talked myself into believing it was a good thing. Now, I feel like I was a fool for believing. But perhaps I am making a mistake now in the present in not wanting the Browns to stick with Quinn next year.
In the most recent issue of ESPN The Magazine Football Outsider’s Aaron Schatz wrote an excellent article about the question we’ve all been wondering: When do you know it’s too late for a QB to turn it around [Insider Link]? Well, Football Outsiders has done the research, and it turns out the answer is 2 years. Schatz writes:
“When is it time to give up on your young QB?
The quick answer is: after two years (unless, of course, the guy has spent that time on the bench). If a QB falters badly in those first two seasons, you can pretty much write off his chances of ever amounting to anything.
And that’s why all the fuss swirling around at least some struggling young QBs is premature. Start with Quinn. Browns coach Eric Mangini apparently decided the Notre Dame product wasn’t NFL quality after six career starts, even though his numbers were better than those of his replacement, Anderson. Quinn’s career stats (94 of 174 for 972 yards, 3 TDs, 5 INTs) actually mimic Hasselbeck’s (84 of 172, 1,079 yards, 4 TDs, 5 INTs) and Troy Aikman‘s (90 of 179, 1,209 yards, 4 TDs, 12 INTs) in their first seven starts. Good thing Mangini is rethinking his initial assessment.”
In the article, Schatz gives example after example of guys who validate their findings that a QB needs to be given two years. And this is precisely why, despite my doubts about his potential, Quinn needs to be given one more year in Cleveland to prove his worth.
It’s really a shame that Eric Mangini, and the Cleveland Browns as a whole, have botched up the development of Quinn so badly. Rather than letting Quinn play through some early ineffectiveness and giving him a chance to grow into the starting QB position this season, Mangini instead panicked and pulled Quinn for DA. Now, the question is whether it’s fair to even count this season as Quinn’s first season.
As of right now Quinn has eight career starts. If he starts each of the final six games of the year, that will give him 14 career starts. That’s close to a whole season’s worth. It’s tough to evaluate much in such disjointed and uneven starts spread over multiple parts of multiple seasons, but it is experience none the less.
So if we are to believe what Aaron Schatz and Football Outsiders have found about this subject, and I see no reason not to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one, then it is imperative the Browns let Brady Quinn be the starter from day one of training camp next year and all of the regular season. That’s not to say the Browns absolutely should not draft a QB this offseason (there’s nothing wrong with a little insurance), but it’s time to give Brady Quinn his fair shot and to find out once and for all if Brady is up for the job. We’re not going to learn anything about this team the rest of this season. This season is over. But if the Browns are finally ready to just let Brady have the job and run with it, then next year will be his watershed moment.