BGA: Scouting Brady Quinn

Earlier this week, the Jets signed Brady Quinn to their active roster so they had a little more experience in terms of their depth at the quarterback position. Unlike most of the pickups this year, most Jets fans probably are pretty familiar with Quinn, but I’m going to take an updated look at how he performed this year in preseason and what he could provide the Jets with if called upon.

The 6-3 Quinn has been in the league since 2007, where he was a first round pick (22nd overall) for the Cleveland Browns. The Jets are his 6th NFL team and he has started 20 games in his career including nine with Denver in 2009 and eight with the Chiefs last year. He has never had a season where he achieved a completion percentage above 58% or a passer rating above 70 in his entire career.

After the jump, I’ll briefly review his career so far in more detail and review the footage from preseason to try and evaluate what he could provide the Jets with this year.

Who is Brady Quinn?

The 28-year old Quinn was at one time considered to be a potential number one pick after excelling at Notre Dame under Charlie Weis. However, he dropped to the 22nd pick in the 2007 draft, where he was selected by the Cleveland Browns. He has made just 20 starts over the course of his NFL career with the Browns, Broncos and Chiefs and has also spent time with the Broncos and Seahawks. His career passer rating is just 64.4 and his best season was with Denver in 2009, when he completed just 53% of his passes with a 67.2 passer rating. In 2012, he had a career-best completion percentage of 58% but threw just two touchdowns to eight interceptions. However, he did win the AFC offensive player of the week when he completed 19-of-23 passes and threw two touchdowns to lead the Chiefs to just their second win of the season over Carolina last December.

As regular readers of BGA will know, I don’t do detailed college scouting these days, because I prefer to concentrate on the pro game because it makes for easier comparatives. However, back in 2006-2008 I watched and scouting about 300 college football games for this and another site and Quinn was a guy who I saw a lot of – more than half of his games in his final two years. Here was my take on him at the time (for TJB):

Quinn, meanwhile, who was once the consensus number one pick, looks like he might slide down the draft boards. He thrived running Charlie Weis’ quick passing attack for Notre Dame, but concerns exist over how he performed against top level opposition and also over the fact that a lot of his long completions simply relied on the ability of his large, athletic contigent of receivers to outmuscle defensive backs in the air.

While there was no question about his ability to command an offense and dink-and-dunk the ball down the field with quick passing, I had doubts over his ability to fit the ball into tight windows of hit guys deep in stride. It seemed like a lot of his downfield completions saw guys like Anthony Fasano, John Carlson, Maurice Stovall and Jeff Samardzija – all of whom were at least 6’4″ – and the athletic Rhema McKnight (6’2″) going up to get it over much smaller defenders on balls lofted down the middle.

My sense on Quinn was that he lacked what it would take to become an elite franchise quarterback, but I did think he’d have a career as a fringe starter or career backup. While it would have been a bad pick, that’s not really a bad player to be adding into the mix as your third or fourth option when you have uncertainty at the position.

I’m going to look at how he performed in preseason and consider whether he is the type of player that could do a hold-the-fort type of job or could he even be anything more than that?

Let’s look into some of the footage from preseason…

Week 1 – Cards

In the first game, Quinn was the number two, playing in the second and third quarters. He was 6-of-11 for 59 yards and a touchdown.

- On his first dropback, he hesitated and then was immediately under pressure, so threw the ball away into the ground
– On third and six, he completed a 15-yarder to a wide open receiver over the middle, despite being hit as he threw by a blitzing DB
– Again was hit as he threw deep down the right sideline. The ball was slightly overthrown, safely beyond the CB
– No pressure this time, as he threw deep down the right sideline again. This time, with the cornerback in tight coverage, he underthrew the ball and the receiver almost came down with it
– The next drive began with the ball already in the red zone. Quinn had a receiver open on a slant, but threw slightly behind him and high, allowing the defender to close
– On the next play, he threw an 11-yard touchdown pass over the middle. The receiver was all alone and there was no pressure
– Playfaked and threw a screen on the roll-out. Timing was okay, but the defense was all over it for a short gain
– On third and eight the pocket collapsed and he managed to get it to a receiver underneath under pressure, but the receiver wasn’t able to get to the marker
– Sensed pressure off the right side and slid to his left before throwing a deep corner route with touch over the defender for the tight end to make a diving catch.
– On a dump to the flat, the back was stopped just short of the end zone
– On third and goal, Quinn’s fade route to the left was overthrown

Quinn was under pressure a lot and his accuracy wasn’t perfect, but he did make all the easy throws and didn’t really come close to losing a turnover. The footwork he showed on the touch pass to the tight end was impressive and an indication perhaps of David Lee’s influence (the two worked together privately in the 2011 offseason) so perhaps we can expect Geno Smith and Matt Simms to start showing similar signs?

Week 2 – Broncos

In this game, he was relegated to third string, entering late in the third. He completed 3-of-4 for 13 yards but did have a couple of other completions negated by penalties.

- Play fake and dump to the flat for four was negated by a flag
– Another play fake and dump to the flat this time gained 17 as the back broke a tackle, but again was negated by a flag
– Play fake and quick throw underneath to receiver who couldn’t make any extra yards as he was brought down in the open field
– Sensing pressure off the blind side, he rushed his throw which was low and wide on an out pattern, but safely out of the reach of any defenders
– Nobody open so he checked down to the back who was stopped for no gain
– Threw just behind his receiver on the outside at the marker, but he had enough momentum to get the first down for eight yards
– Closed the game out by taking three knees

Had those two plays negated by flags counted, Quinn’s numbers would have been 5-for-6, 34 yards. That’s not a million miles away from Geno Smith’s first game: 6-for-7, 42 yards. He again was mostly taking what the defense would give him, but avoided mistakes.

Week 3 – Packers

Again working as the third stringer, Quinn entered late in the third and was 5-for-8 for 89 yards and the game winning touchdown pass.

- On his first dropback, he rolled right into pressure and was sacked
– His first throw was a deep bomb down the right sideline where his receiver almost caught it for a touchdown despite close and (overly?) physical coverage from the cornerback
– Picked up seven on a throw to his receiver crossing underneath
– Under pressure, so he smartly threw at his back’s feet to avoid getting sacked
– On third and 13, he was sacked and lost a fumble (recovered by a teammate) but the play didn’t stand because a defensive player was offside
– With the do-over on third and eight he was absolutely nailed as he tried to throw deep. The ball was well overthrown but they got the first down courtesy of a roughing the passer call
– Was flushed out of the pocket and threw safely out of bounds
– Threw incomplete to the flat, but the play was negated by a penalty anyway
– Found a man open underneath for seven under pressure
– Sat in the pocket confidently and threw to a receiver just beyond the marker, although he had to make a diving catch for eight and a first down
– Dumped to his running back under pressure and he had loads of room to run, gaining 25
– That set up the game-winning touchdown pass with just under nine minutes left. Quinn threw a long bomb to the end zone which his receiver was able to outmuscle the cornerback for, even though it was a slight underthrow, for a 42-yard score.

Another solid, unspectacular performance from Quinn with a strong finish. Some accuracy issues, but he handled pressure smartly for the most part, although he was bailed out on that fumble.

Week 4 – Raiders

Quinn saw action in the second half, completing eight of 15 passes for 110 yards.

- Rolled left and threw to the tight end in the flat, turning upfield for eight
– 14 more on the exact same play on third and one
– With nobody open, he took off but gained just one yard
– Immediate throw to his tight end on a quick out was off his hands, although it was a little high and hard
– Threw incomplete on third down. Looking for a back shoulder throw down the field, he was hit as he threw and the ball fell well short of the target
– With time in the pocket, threw deep and the receiver made a leaping 33-yard catch despite close coverage
– Flushed from the pocket, he rolled right and found the same receiver coming back to the ball for 17
– Ran that roll left and throw to the TE play again, for nine
– Was sacked on third and one, but they got the first down by virtue of a defensive hold
– Pass to flat was dropped. The play didn’t count anyway due to a flag
– Throw down middle on 2nd and 22 was off the tight end’s hands. Again it was a little high and hard
– On 3rd and 22, his receiver slipped coming out of his break back to the ball, so the pass was incomplete when the receiver might have had some space to run
– Threw low to a receiver underneath due to heavy pressure
– Back shoulder throw to his receiver was dropped. No idea if that was by design, a good read or just an underthrow
– Threw to back in the flat for six and a first down
– 16 more yards on a pass to the flat, this time to his tight end
– Short pass underneath was dropped as the receiver fell to the ground
– On 4th and 10, he threw a quick screen to his receiver split out wide, but the defense made a good open field tackle to stop him for seven
– Closed out the game by taking three knees.

Quinn was actually pretty efficient in this game once you factor in the plays where his receivers perhaps should have come down with the ball. However, throughout preseason, he was still mostly moving the chains with a diet of short passes and balls thrown up for his receivers to go and get, so the book on him doesn’t seem to have changed much.

His final numbers:

22-for-38, 271 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions.

Before we go any further, let’s compare those numbers to that of Geno Smith:

22-for-37, 246 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions

Interesting, huh? By being careful with the ball and not taking any unnecessary risks, Quinn ended up more productive than Smith and avoided any mistakes. First off, this is perhaps a sign of exactly what you want from your backup (“don’t lose us the game”). However, it could also be seen as a sign of what Smith can achieve if he takes a slightly more conservative approach during the regular season, at least in the early going or until he starts to see the field a little better.

Conclusions

In all probability, Quinn has been brought in as emergency cover and may not see any action with the Jets or last very long on the active roster. However, with the inexperience of the two guys ahead of him, there’s every chance he could be called upon to settle things down at some point.

Can he handle such a role? Based on preseason, perhaps he can. Quinn didn’t move the team up and down the field in preseason and has never shown the ability to do that during regular season action throughout his career (surpassing 200 yards just five times in his 20 career starts). However, he did manage to make a handful of plays, despite not being helped much by his protection or his receivers and when you’re able to lean heavily on your defense, that can win you games as long as you avoid back-breaking mistakes.

I’m not expecting Quinn to become a full time starter here, or even to be particularly fun to watch if he gets into any games as a backup. However, in terms of being capable of performing a specific game manager role, he could be equipped to do that and nobody can really say for sure how close to being ready to do that Geno Smith and Matt Simms are. Therefore, I don’t think it’s a terrible move in terms of giving you a safety net for your worst case scenario (or just injuries, in fact).

Remember, based on last year, the Jets only need competence from their quarterback to be competitive most weeks, not elite play. Maybe that’s not something beyond the reach of a guy like Quinn.