In the fourth quarter of Sunday’s Chiefs-Ravens game in Arrowhead Stadium, embattled Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel unleashed a pass and was promptly decked by 350-pound Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata.As Cassel remained on the playing field, prostrate on his back for several minutes, all the debate over the state of the team began to crystallize down to the last word in every KC Chiefs pre-season debate.
“These Chiefs are going places this season,” one side would say.“With Charles and Berry back in the fold, and Todd Haley out the door, this team will finally reach its potential.”
“There are still question marks on both sides of the ball,” the skeptics would reply.“And Romeo Crennel was awful in his head coaching tenure in Cleveland.”
“The same Crennel who led the Chiefs to victory over the undefeated Packers? With the stars on offense, all Crennel has to do is stay out of the way and let ‘em operate.”
“But somebody’s going to have to distribute the ball. Matt Cassel has proven that he isn’t that dude. They gotta get him out of there before this team can reach its potential.”
“Well, who else are you gonna put in? Brady Quinn?”
Brady Quinn. He who had been a punchline ever since Day One in the NFL, when he sat in the Radio City Music Hall green room for hours before being called onstage. Who had been deemed by league general managers to be 21 first-round slots lower than JaMarcus Russell in value. Who was demoted to 3rd string behind Kyle Orton and the Tebow, two men who have never exactly achieved widespread praise for their quarterbacking abilities. Who wasn’t drafted by the coach he played for. Who didn’t play for the coach he was drafted by.
Romeo Crennel was the coach who drafted Brady Quinn with Cleveland in 2007, but Quinn threw a mere 96 passes for him before Crennel was replaced by Eric Mangini. Quinn started 9 games for Mangini’s 2009 Browns, throwing 8 touchdowns to 7 interceptions, but completing only 53.1% of his passes for 5.2 yards per attempt. Cleveland decided they had seen enough, so Quinn moved on to Denver for two years and no playing time before landing in Kansas City for the 2012 season.
Then Haloti Ngata demolished Matt Cassel, and that brings us to today. Cassel is out for Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay. Brady Quinn is slotted to start. The Chiefs are expected to rely heavily on Jamaal Charles and the running game, like they did last week when Quinn closed the game out after Cassel’s injury. But sooner or later, the Chiefs are going to have to put the ball in Brady Quinn’s hands. And that’s when we’ll see who’s showing up – the Quinn who was a top recruit out of high school and teamed with Charlie Weis at Notre Dame to post impressive seasons and make him look like a legit franchise QB, or the Quinn who completed just a hair over half of his passes in Cleveland before being shoved out the door after one of the shortest auditions for a first-round QB in recent memory. How short, you ask?
Over the 6 years of his career, Brady Quinn has attempted all of 356 passes. For comparison, that’s about half of what Quinn’s replacement, Colt McCoy, was afforded in his first 2 years, and only about 150 more than Browns quarterback-nouveau Brandon Weeden has thrown in just 5 games. It’s also fewer attempts than big shots like Akili Smith and Cade McNown were given in their careers.
The point here is not that Brady Quinn is the magic sauce the Chiefs needed to make this a successful season. It’s likely that won’t happen. The point is Quinn just has to be better than he was in his aborted tenure as QB of the Browns, show that he hasn’t spent the last couple years farting into his couch and learning to wiggle his ears. But he doesn’t have to be amazing to make Chiefs fans thankful – after all, Cassel was only playing a step or two above what Quinn did in Cleveland. The time is now for Brady the Quinn to prove he belongs in the NFL. But hell, even if he does flame out again, it’ll have been an interesting story.