The Final Word on Quinn Spin

First off, bashing Quinn is not only mostly a knee-jerk anti- Notre Dame response, it’s also a great way for writers/talking heads to get attention for themselves. Don’t expect it to stop. There was a lot of built up resentment about the attention Quinn was getting pre-season and that has colored most of the views on Quinn.

But the arguments are mostly ill-thought out and lacking in any real analysis.

First, Quinn didn’t struggle in big games. He was fantastic against Penn State which most considered the biggest early game on the Irish schedule. Quinn won the Georgia Tech game and led the two big comebacks against Michigan State and UCLA (which looked like a weak win until they knocked of USC.) He completely outplayed the Heisman Trophy winner in the biggest game of the Weis era and engineered what should have been the winning drive.

He also looked at the top of this game early against LSU. Replay it. Dropped passes and penalties are the only things that stopped the Irish early on. LSU was able to get the Irish back on their heels and Quinn sustained a knee injury and he was ineffective later in the game, but no quarterback would have been effective under those circumstances.

Here’s the real headline: Quinn didn’t have great games against defenses that dominated Notre Dame’s offensive line and played tight on our receivers. That’s really a duh, point. By this same ‘bash’ thought process JaMarcus Russell struggled in ‘big games’ against Florida and Auburn… in fact, he pretty much lost the Florida game early on. Troy Smith looked abominable when he was pressured and forced to play without Ginn. Same has been said of Manning.

Now, JarMarcus Russell looked very good against Notre Dame, but… he didn’t throw for the highest number of yards this year, he didn’t put up the highest passing efficiency rating nor did he throw for the highest number of touchdowns against Notre Dame’s defense.

Reality check. Most top offenses, especially those with a lot of weapons, looked very good against Notre Dame’s defense. Purdue’s never been able to replicate their second half against ND against another team (Quinn was outstanding in the first half of that game.) There’s a reason Minter was let go this year.

And the thing is, as Tim Brown points out, Pro quarterbacks play in a timing system, just like Quinn did. Russell’s performance against Notre Dame is in no way representative of what he’ll face in the NFL, his performance against Florida and Auburn was. Russell’s big, but that’s not going to matter as much, he’s not that mobile and he’s not going to have the time to sit back and throw strikes to receivers running open.

Having a big arm is nice, but not the top factor in quarterback success. You just have to be able to make all the throws. It does open the available window a crack if you can jam the ball in there, but Quinn’s got a gun and can do that. Zibby and Jeff S. both had stronger arms than Quinn, but they weren’t playing quarterback for a reason. No one has any clue on Russell. He can make the throws when he has the time, but so can a gazillion quarterbacks. Drew Brees can make them too, but the trick is he also does it within an NFL offense.

And I really don’t get this Russell has a higher ceiling argument. Exactly where does that perceived ‘higher ceiling’ manifest itself? The key isn’t size or arm strength, it’s playmaking ability. That’s what separates the top quarterbacks and there’s a fair argument that Quinn’s performance in the clutch against Michigan State, UCLA, and USC from last year, showed a higher ceiling for that ‘separation quality’ than Russell has. I haven’t seen Russell do this.

Now, I like Russell as a QB and personally, I don’t care which Quarterback goes higher, but the Quinn bashing gets distorted by those who really want Quinn to fail and can get some air time or column space. There are some valid criticisms, but they get lost in the clamor.

Here’s the delicious irony: they’ve (the Quinn Spin group) made him more popular and a bigger name than if they just ignored him. In the quest to harpoon Quinn, they’ve given him an exponentially large platform proving his endorsement worth and making him rich long before the draft and Quinn has shined in the spotlight . In other words, all of that hard work to tear Quinn down has made him so much bigger than he would have been to this point and actually created a undercurrent of support for him.

If they spent their time lauding Russell instead, it would have had the opposite affect. They didn’t and I’m not sure they could have. So Quinn’s face time soared in relation to Russell.

I didn’t say they were bright.

Thankfully, we can move on after Sunday.

~ The Rock


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