July 23, 2016

Partly sunny

Quinn’s talent never matched hype

A lot of people need to fig-ure out what to do with their No. 10 Brady Quinn Browns jerseys.

That seemed unimagin-able just months ago.

Quinn was the latest greatest hope to rescue the Browns. National and local media flocked to Berea for his first rookie minicamp practice in 2007, where he stood in shorts and threw to guys whose NFL shelf-life was shorter than Danny DeVito on bended knee.

How the mighty have fallen. Quinn isn’t even a Brown anymore, as he was shipped Sunday to Denver for backup running back Peyton Hillis and two future draft picks. Not much of a haul for a supposed big-time quarterback.

Quinn’s stay in Cleveland lasted less than three full years. If only the production had matched the hype.

The national spotlight was nothing compared with the excitement around Cleveland. The acquisition of Quinn and left tackle Joe Thomas, who was drafted at No. 3, was supposed to signal a turning point for the franchise. The two most important positions on offense had been addressed, and then-general manager Phil Savage’s plan was starting to come together.

Savage was gone two years later, and Quinn a year after that. You’ve got to love it when a plan gets blown up.

Quinn was the NFL’s highest-profile rookie after a career at Notre Dame that earned him weekly televi-sion exposure, enough votes to be a Heisman Trophy finalist and a visit to New York for the draft, where he waited not so patiently for his name to be called and ESPN tried to chronicle every minute. Before he slid down the first round and became available for the Browns at No. 22 after a trade that sent Dallas a second-round pick in 2007 and a first-rounder in 2008, he was already making national commercials.

The Browns front office didn’t view Quinn as the savior, comparing him in the draft room to weak-armed, yet tough and cere-bral Chad Pennington. The fans didn’t have the same restraint. They wanted Quinn to start right away, and when he didn’t, they couldn’t wait for him to get his chance.

Quinn wasn’t the No. 1 overall selection or first pick of the expansion franchise, but he ranks right below Tim Couch on the bust meter. Neither proved to be the answer at the most pivotal position.

The Quinn lovers —and there are a lot —will point to his lack of playing time. They have a point.

Quinn didn’t see any real action until midway through his second season. He looked good enough in three starts before getting injured that then-coach Romeo Crennel named him the starter for 2009.

Crennel was fired and didn’t get to make that decision, but Quinn beat out Derek Anderson in a less-than-inspiring preseason competition. Quinn finally had the starting job and the opportunity to show what all the fuss was about.

He was back on the bench 10 quarters later.

The Browns were on their way to an 0-3 start, the of-fense’s only touchdown was in garbage time and Quinn failed to take advantage of plays the coaching staff believed were there to be made. He returned to the field later in the year after Anderson was even worse, but the best thing that can be said about Quinn is he did a good job managing the no-huddle offense.

He finished his stint in Cleveland with a 52.1 completion percentage, 10 touchdowns, nine intercep-tions and a 66.8 rating. He went 3-9 as the starter.

But are 12 starts enough to fairly judge him a bust? President Mike Holmgren, general manager Tom Heckert and coach Eric Mangini shouted, “Yes!” with the trade.

They’re willing to turn over the position to a 35-year-old coming off a brutal year (Jake Delhomme), a career backup who’s 5-foot-11 (Seneca Wallace) and whatever rookie follows in the draft. That’s clearly an indictment of Quinn’s talent and potential.

Quinn was never the biggest, most athletic or best thrower —he was the most chiseled —but was supposed to make up for any deficiencies with all his intangibles. No one inside the Browns organization ever questioned his work ethic, but he never became the leader that most top quarterbacks are.

He might’ve tried too hard to command the huddle, or lost a popularity contest to the laidback Anderson, but it always seemed like half the team didn’t like Quinn or didn’t think he should be playing.

Quinn and Anderson were opposites throughout their tenures, and it didn’t stop in their departing words. Anderson said the fans don’t deserve a winner, while Quinn thanked them for their support. They sure loved him, but that can be a curse.

Bernie Kosar ruined it for every little boy who sleeps in Browns pajamas and dreams of playing on the lakefront. Charlie Frye was an Ohio kid who wanted to be Kosar. So was Quinn.

The fans bite hard on the sentiment, then are even more disappointed when the Buckeye goes bust. The fan reaction to the Quinn trade will be interesting. Holm-gren is the real hope for the future, and he put himself in the line of fire.

The fear that will keep Cleveland fans up at night is that Quinn lives up to the hype elsewhere. That he goes to Denver and beats Cleveland on the way to the Super Bowl.

That could happen. He’s only 25 years old and could use the change of scenery.

But after watching Quinn for three years, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

Contact Scott Petrak at (440) 329-7253 or spe-trak@chroniclet.com.