Quarterback controversies seem to be all the rage these days in the NFL, especially with teams like the Denver Broncos.
Former Notre Dame standout and first-round-pick Brady Quinn left one dissension at the position behind in Cleveland after being shipped to Denver via trade for a sixth-round-selection in April’s draft, a 2012 conditional pick, and oh yeah, Peyton Hillis. (Whoops?!)
On the “low-risk” trade last March, ESPN’s Bill Williamson stated, “Denver did not give up much for the former No. 1 pick…”
I’m sure Williamson would love to have those words back and Josh McDaniels still cries himself to sleep at night, but hey, you live and learn. And while Quinn has found himself in some new Mile High mayhem, his future is much brighter than the first overall selection in that 2007 NFL Draft, JaMarcus Russell.
The once part-time Browns starter is currently listed on third on the official Denver Broncos’ depth chart. With the current lockout in place, teams are unable to add or trade away players to help themselves improve.
For the Broncos, it appears they’re ready to go in a different direction and deal starter, Kyle Orton, whom was 11-17 under center in two years.
If recent media statements are true that the upper brass is not sold on Heisman Trophy winner, Tim Tebow under center, then that leaves Quinn as the de facto starter for Denver.
Why make the case for an inaccurate and inmature border-line bust, who has failed to live up to the 2007 pre-draft hype? You can thank the lack of talent and dysfunctional front office of the Cleveland Browns for making a case for Brady Quinn in Denver.
While the 27-year old Dublin, Ohio native was originally projected as a top-five pick in 2007, he slid all the way down to No.22, only to be drafted by his boyhood team. Quinn didn’t exactly endear himself to then coach, Romeo Crennel by holding out during training camp. He would eventually sign a five-year deal worth $20.2 million, with performance incentives that would push the deal to $30 million if he took 70% of the snaps under center.
Fast forward to 2009, and enter new head coach, Eric Mangini. Quinn was the projected starter for Mangini during training camp, but would be yanked in favor of Derek Anderson after going 6-for-8 for a meager 34 yards and throwing an interception in a 34-3 rout at the hands of Baltimore.
Quinn would show some flashes of promise by having his best game as a pro, throwing for 304 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-37 loss to the winless Detroit Lions.
He finished the 2009 season in Cleveland by throwing for 1,339 yards, eight touchdowns , seven interceptions for a QB rating of 67.2 and completing only 53.1 percent of his passes.
The highlight of his career was leading the Browns to a 13-6 upset over the defending Super Bowl champion, Pittsburgh Steelers. In that game, Quinn would go 6-of-19 for 90 yards. Is it honestly fair to blame Quinn when he was the victim of a inept rookie offensive coordinator in Brian Daboll? Quinn suffered from a lack of talent in the skill positions as the Browns traded Pro Bowl wide receiver Braylon Edwards to the New York Jets and tight end Kellen Winslow to Tampa Bay.
Starting running back, Jamal Lewis was on the wrong side of 30 and with the exception of Joshua Cribbs and Mike Furrey, Cleveland had two rookies at the wide receiver spot in Brian Robiskie and Mohammed Massaqoui.
Enter new Browns President, Mike Holmgren in 2010, as the aforementioned Quinn is traded to the Broncos. Now in Denver, Quinn would boldly proclaim himself the starter over incumbent, Kyle Orton. Quinn would suffer more tough luck when Denver decides to draft Florida quarterback, Tim Tebow.
Seemingly in the wrong place at the wrong time, Quinn had to sit on the bench and watch Orton throw for over 3,653 yards and 20 touchdowns.
He would also have to witness “Tebowmania” envelop Denver without getting a chance to step on the field. While Denver seems to have a more competent front office in general manager, Brian Xanders, and Hall-of-Fame QB, John Elway as vice president of football operations running the show, it appears that Quinn’s tough luck from Cleveland followed him west.
The coach that traded for him, Josh McDaniels gets fired after leading the Broncos to a 4-12 season and the man he was traded for, Peyton Hillis rushes for over 1,100 yards and 13 touchdowns, and lands the cover of Madden ’12 cover.
Now, it appears that Quinn may be on the move again—up the depth chart of quarterback.
With Denver shopping Orton around during the lockout and new head coach, John Fox hinting that Quinn has a shot at being the starter, Quinn will finally have a valid and fair chance to become a true starter in the NFL.
Unlike Cleveland, Denver has talent to surround and help Quinn in Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckwalter at running back and much better talent at wide receiver in Eddie Royal, Jabar Gaffney and DeMaryius Thomas.
With the exception of San Diego, Quinn does not have to face two hard-hitting Super Bowl heavyweights in Pittsburgh and Baltimore in the division every year, either.
For all of Quinn’s critics, myself included, Quinn may have questionable arm strength and accuracy issues, but he was also the victim of constant upheaval and a weak supporting cast in Cleveland and would be a great fit in Denver based on being around better talent and a weaker division.
Those who choose to dismiss Quinn’s chances of being the starter for the Broncos, may soon come to realize that he is a legitimate dark horse in a two-way race.