Sports with Shook: Something strange brewing in Kansas City

Nick Shook

Nick Shook

Nick Shook is a junior news major and sports columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

The Kansas City Chiefs named a new starting quarterback this week, following an injury to their starter and a subsequent mediocre performance by their backup.

The news wasn’t exactly surprising; after all, starter Matt Cassel was playing worse than Spergon Wynn in Cleveland, Kordell Stewart in Pittsburgh, Quincy Carter in Dallas, Kyle Boller in Baltimore, etc. But the humorous (and point of interest) part of this is his replacement is just as bad.

While writing that last paragraph, I Google-searched “worst NFL quarterbacks,” because I came up with Wynn, Stewart and Carter on my own, but I needed a fourth and drew a blank. I came across a slideshow on Bleacher Report that listed the 50 worst NFL quarterbacks ever. Who was No. 29 on the list?

Brady Quinn.

And who is Cassel’s replacement and the new starter for the Chiefs?

Brady Quinn.

We have a conspiracy on our hands, folks.

The Chiefs’ head coach is Romeo Crennel, a large, round man who many Browns fans not-so-fondly remember for his time serving the same role in Cleveland. Some say he is mostly known for his corny Donato’s commercial, where he supposedly takes the D out of Donato’s in reference to his Browns defense. But, really he just attracted the widely used joke of “Romeo ate the D in Donato’s!” because he was, and still is, rather obese.

Where is the connection, you ask? Well, in 2007, Crennel had a part in drafting Quinn – but not for the Chiefs. The highly touted Quinn entered the NFL Draft out of Notre Dame and it was during this draft that he would enter NFL immortality for all the wrong reasons.

Quinn, projected to be a top-10 selection, if not the top-overall pick of the draft, was all smiles through the first five picks of the draft. Yes, his childhood favorite Browns passed on him to take Wisconsin left tackle Joe Thomas third overall, but the Miami Dolphins were about to be on the board at No. 9, and they needed a quarterback.

But when Miami shocked the world and selected Ohio State wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. with the ninth pick, Quinn entered free fall. Luckily for him, the Browns made sure he was strapped with a parachute that thankfully opened with the 22nd pick, when Cleveland surprised the NFL, traded back into the first round and selected the quarterback.

General manager Phil Savage and head coach Crennel were heralded for a franchise-changing first day of the draft. April 28, 2007, would go down as the turning point in Browns history.

Cleveland was fired up about landing a franchise left tackle and a franchise quarterback. I was pumped, too; the man broke 36 records at Notre Dame. Thirty-six! But his rise to fame never happened.

Quinn followed the poor advice of his greedy super-agent, Tom Condon, and held out of training camp, missing valuable instruction time. Charlie Frye won the starting job, played so atrociously in a Week 1 loss to the Steelers that the team traded him to Seattle the next day, and turned to backup Derek Anderson.

The “Moose from Scappoose” led the Browns to a shocking (and fluke) 10-6 record, barely missing the playoffs, thanks to a meltdown in windy Cincinnati late in the season, and Tony Dungy benching all-world quarterback Peyton Manning in favor of backup Jim Sorgi, giving the Tennessee Titans a Week 17 victory and effectively knocking the Browns out of the playoffs.

The Browns won its final game of the season, too, 10-6 over the San Francisco 49ers. Quinn replaced the injured Anderson in that game and went 3-for-8. Whoopee.

Quinn started the 2008 season as Anderson’s backup, but the Browns got off to a disappointing 3-5 start. Anderson was terrible, and chants for Quinn echoed throughout Cleveland Browns Stadium.

The quarterback got his shot on a Thursday night. I can remember it vividly, driving to the stadium with my father, my cousin Curt and my close friend Carrington. The pregame show was buzzing with the news that Quinn would be starting for the Browns, and he did impress us.

Two touchdown passes to tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. had the stadium rocking, but Denver ended up coming back to beat the Browns, 34-30. Cleveland finished 4-12 that season.

Crennel was fired following the conclusion of the season, Quinn was tossed in and out of the starting lineup by new head coach Eric Mangini in 2009, and was dealt away to Denver for running back Peyton Hillis in the offseason.

Quinn was first stuck behind incumbent starter Kyle Orton in Denver, and then was supplanted by Tim Tebow. In two seasons with the Broncos, Quinn didn’t appear in a single game.

How is he starting now, you ask?

Crennel was promoted to interim head coach following the firing of Todd Haley in Kansas City last season, and basically earned the removal of the interim tag because his Chiefs somehow stumbled upon a miracle victory over then-undefeated Green Bay Packers.

Crennel undoubtedly played a role in signing the free agent Quinn this past offseason. And much like Anderson in Cleveland, it took an injury to Cassel for Quinn to get his first taste of action, and once he got that taste, sweet or bitter, he would remain on the field.

Quinn did not perform well in his first start for the Chiefs. He completed 22-of-38 passes for just 180 yards and two interceptions. He finished with a passer rating of 48.1. Those are not starter-quality numbers.

That’s not to say Cassel was playing any better, but Crennel is one to succumb to fan pressure. He did that in Cleveland, and he’s doing it now in Kansas City. Brady Quinn will not help the Chiefs to any more victories than overpaid Matt Cassel would. But Crennel relied on his gut to make the decision.

“I’m not saying Matt Cassel is the reason we are where we are,” Crennel said. “We need to coach better and we need to play better, and if we do those things, we can be better, but my biggest deal was my gut was telling me we need to impact that team by changing that dynamic.”

I have reason to believe that Romeo Crennel sought out the services of Quinn in the offseason because he knew Cassel might not perform as well as expected, and that former backup Brodie Croyle was absolutely awful. And I also have reason to believe that once the tides started to turn (or maybe even before), Crennel was prepared to make the switch.

Remember, Quinn showed flashes of brilliance in Cleveland. An impressive fourth quarter performance in a preseason game against the Detroit Lions in 2007, the loss to Denver in 2008, and a come-from-behind 29-27 win over Buffalo on Monday Night Football are examples of that.

But then again, in the victory over the Bills, Quinn was 14-for-36 for 185 yards and threw an interception that resulted in the touchdown that gave the Bills a temporary lead. Quinn completed two passes, both to Winslow, to move the Browns on the edge of field goal range on the ensuing drive.

He threw three consecutive incompletions before Phil Dawson used every last bit of his Texas Longhorn mojo to bang a 56-yard field goal through the uprights for the win.

After further review, Brady Quinn is simply not a good NFL quarterback. But Crennel seems to have a comfortable dynamic with the mediocre signal-caller.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Crennel just made the move out of panic, and the backup just happened to be Quinn. But either way, we are about to be subjected to another painful exposition of the Crennel/Quinn dynamic duo. I’m just as excited as the fans of the 1-5 Chiefs are. Hooray.

Agree with Nick? Think Brady Quinn will lead the Chiefs to the promised land? Tweet him @NickShookDKS or email him at [email protected]

Be sure to tune into Sports With Shook, Black Squirrel Radio’s top sports-talk show, every Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. Follow the show @SportsWithShook.