Is Quinn overrated?

FootballWith last Saturday’s crushing defeat at the hands of USC, has it been determined that Brady Quinn is not the legend the media hyped him to be? A fine quarterback – perhaps. But is Quinn worthy of the number one pick in the NFL draft?

El Kaiser and I were talking about this yesterday. Where, exactly, does ND actually fit in as far as strength goes? They’re ranked 12th this week, but who really knows how tough the Irish are? They either play the best of the best or the cellar dwellers. There’s no team in the middle to “benchmark” them against.

For example, we can benchmark OSU and UM, because they have played each other. We have a hunch that LSU against Wisconsin would make a good game — even though they’ve never played each other — because of how they matched up against similar opponents. Same for Oklahoma and Auburn. Etc., etc.

But where does ND fit in? We know that ND’s past three losses have been to the top three teams in the country: Ohio State, UM, and USC, and they were completely blown out in those games. So clearly, the Irish are not among the country’s elite. We also know they’re better than most unranked teams, based on their performance against the weaklings in their schedule.

The same goes for Quinn. Mention Troy Smith’s name to a Quinn fan, and they’re quick to point out his statistics, some of which are slightly better than Smith’s. But what does that really tell us? Quinn’s “legendary” career at ND has been built on 400-500 passes a season against the service academies, where Smith’s legendary status has been built in his clutch performances during the biggest games.

Phillips at Rumors and Rants does a decent job of analyzing Brady Quinn’s career. Among other points, he writes:

In four years at the helm of Notre Dame’s offense, Brady Quinn is 29-18 as a starter. Not too bad huh? Well, when you take out Stanford, BYU and the service academies that record changes to 17-18. That’s legendary?

…which is an excellent point. If we were to use points like this to “benchmark” Quinn against Smith, consider that Smith is 25-2 as a starter, and one of those two losses was in a game that he technically started, but did not finish. Furthermore, Smith is 10-1 against ranked opponents, 3-0 against his rival Michigan, and 1-0 in bowl games; all numbers to which Quinn could only dream of aspiring.

So what say you? Who would you rather see in a Cleveland Browns uniform: Brady Quinn or Troy Smith?


  1. I hate that Brady CHOSE to go to Notre Lame. I think that anyone born inside of Ohio state lines should feel like a Buckeye from birth. I dont think Brady Quinn is as overrated as the ENTIRE Notre Dame program is. I dont believe it is because they have tougher Req. either.

    I think Brady is a 1st round QB, I dont think he is a top 5 pick.

    I KNOW Troy Smith is a better QB. I dont think size matters. I also dont think the Browns will draft either of these QBs.

    Brady will make a good NFL QB, but Troy will be a better one.

    Personally I truly believe that Notre Lame is done as a true powerhouse school for football. The best way to describe this years team was done by Colin Cowherd of ESPN radio when he started to call them ” Notre ‘Ame because they are Notre Dame without the “D” ”

    As a fervent Cleveland Browns hater, lets hope they draft another D-Lineman from PSU or Miami with thier first pick.

  2. Not to be critical, here; you offer fantastic points about Quinn, but uou are a tad factually incorrect about Smith. You state that in his two losses as a starter, one came in a game which he “technically started, but did not finish.” I assume you are referring to the Texas game, but Justin Zwick actually started that game. His two losses came last season against Penn State, which I’m sure you remember, and in 2004 at Purdue. You may remember that in the game Smith had a fantastic running touchdown in which he appeared to be caught up at the two, but managed to spin out of it and get in the endzone. He almost led the team to a comeback victory, but he had a turnover late in the game to spoil it.

    I definitely agree with your post, though. A lot of naysayers out there are saying that Troy Smith is undeserving of the Heisman because of his statistical inferiority to Quinn. However, I think you definitely proved them wrong.

    Oh, and I wouldn’t want either of them as a Cleveland Brown. All that drafting one of these two will do is just add another year to our misery. Assuming that if the Browns draft either Quinn or Smith, and he starts right away, there’s no chance that they’re going to be any more effective than Frye. Sure, Frye has been awful at times this season, but with another year with Bentley back at the line and (hopefully) a playmaker like Adrian Peterson at Running Back, I think he will make some great progress, and would be much more effective than any rookie.

  3. Brady Quinn in a Browns Jersey, please god let that happen.


  4. Thanks for the correction, Pfef. You’re right… I was thinking about Texas, not Purdue. I had forgotten all about that game. Wasn’t that when Kyle Orton “heroically” came in from a hip injury in the last quarter to win the game?

    Man… it seems like so long ago. Hard to believe the Smith era’s over.

    As for Cleveland, I was only half-joking… I’d love to see Smith stay here in Ohio, and playing for his home crowd would be tons of fun to watch.

    I know that Frye would be a more “safe” choice at QB, but I just can’t see him being the future of Cleveland football. Bringing a player like Smith in, someone you can build a team around and groom, is the step the Browns need to take. Whether or not it’s a QB or a stud RB, it’s what they need to do.

    Look at Romo at Dallas. Brees at New Orleans. Smith is that “type” of QB. Sometimes just having an athlete at QB is good enough to make the difference between a last-place team and the playoffs, especially when you have an inferior O-line.

  5. Who’s excited to see Brady’s sister in a half Brown’s and half Packer’s jersey?

    I know Brent Musburger is…

  6. I really like Troy Smith, so I do not want the Browns to draft him. Why wreck his future by forcing him to be employed by the Browns (or Lions)?

  7. I hope Brady Quinn goes to the Raiders … karma for leaving Ohio for school.

    I hope Troy Smith goes to the Bears … they need a new QB.

  8. What is the point in removing the less-than-stellar teams from Quinn’s overall record? Stanford wasn’t horrible until this year. Navy, Air Force and BYU would probably finish in the middle of the pack in the Big 11 every year. I see no shame in beating those teams.

  9. I’m an ND fan, and I’d like to congratulate you guys on a great season so far.

    That said, in my opinion, the stats you’re pulling out to prove your point are specious. True, a QB has larger impact on his team’s performance than any other player on the field. But the way you’re valuing win-loss records, it’s as though Smith and Quinn are playing singles matches in tennis. In point of obvious fact, there are 21 other guys playing along with Smith and with Quinn. I don’t think any rational person would dispute that OSU has been much deeper and more talented than the Irish in the top four years, so this begs the following question:

    If Quinn were the OSU QB for the last three years and Smith were on ND, how would the teams have performed?

    Again, congrats on a great season so far.


  10. There’s probably a lot of things you say about Troy Smith vs. Brady Quinn (I’m not why a OSU site should care about Brady Quinn and I’m sure this will bring up a lot of howling):
    1. How would Quinn fare behind the OSU Offensive line.
    2. How would Quinn fare having Ginn and company to throw to.
    3. How would Quinn fare with another year under Weis (as he played as a true freshman under Willingham).
    4. How would Quinn fare under Tressel as a coach for four (or five) years.
    5. How does Smith fare if you take out the MAC and the also rans of Big 10 teams.

    Troy Smith has turned into a incredible talent under a great program and he (and the team) torched the Irish last year in the Fiesta Bowl. He has certainly come up big in big games and will win the Heisman no contest.

    On the other hand, Quinn spent his first two years under Willingham without a great deal around him. Rather than demeaning Quinn, why don’t you compare apples to apples. That should happen next year when they both end up in the NFL. Hopefully, they’ll get to a team where they can strut their stuff (I’m not sure the Browns would be good for either one of them). The interesting question will be whether Smith will be doing it under center, as wide receiver or on the other side of the ball.

  11. Thanks for the comments, everyone. Welcome to MotSaG!

    >>5. How does Smith fare if you take out the MAC and the also rans of Big 10 teams.<< I'll answer number five here: he'd be undefeated. His two losses came (1) in his first season (his fourth start) against a decent Purdue team when Kyle Orton made a heroic comeback, and (2) last year to an awesome Penn State team that ended up ranked second in the country. He's undefeated against any other measure, good teams and bad (actually, 10-1 against ranked teams). Hal: >>If Quinn were the OSU QB for the last three years and Smith were on ND, how would the teams have performed?<< Having watched Quinn since he was a young-un in high school (he's from Columbus, and the town was crazy about him), I feel I can answer that question pretty well. I think Smith would have been better than Quinn at ND, and I think Quinn would have been worse than Smith at OSU. Both differences are not huge, but definitely there. I'm not saying Smith could take ND to the championship, and I'm not saying Quinn would lose all the big games at OSU. But having watched both for a long time, I have no doubt that Smith would probably outperform Quinn in most venues. I agree that Smith has had more weapons at OSU _this year_ than Quinn has typically had. However, Smith made his reputation back in 2004-2005, when OSU didn't have those weapons or line. (The 2004 OSU team went 8-4). Still, he was able to pull off big performances and wins together, even though he spent the season trading snaps with Zwick. Take Smith's first two UM victories (especially his first in 2004). Smith won those games with his mobility... I think it's safe to say Quinn would not have rushed for 145, and ended up with almost 400 all purpose, yards in the 2004 game. OSU won that game because he was hard to tackle, didn't make mistakes, and found open receivers. Hard to think that Quinn could have led the Bucks to victory in (at least) those two games. As for his third game against UM (2006), consider Smith's and Quinn's performance against UM this year, since it is apples/apples. Quinn's five turnovers against UM weren't all because of a poor ND line, just like they weren't all because of a great UM defense. He simply had a bad day. He made a lot of bad decisions and didn't protect the ball. These are things that fourth-year starters shouldn't be doing - regardless of the quality of their O-line (and ND's O-line is not that bad). Again, I think Quinn is a fine QB. I think he'll make a decent pro player. But I think Smith is at a different level.

  12. Scratch my above sentence:

    >>I’ll answer number five here: he’d be undefeated.<< Don't know why I said that. What I meant to write was “his record would be just as impressive.”

  13. Troy Smith won’t be anything in the NFL. He’s simly too small to have a large impact. Quinn will definately be the better long-run QB. As for his stats, if he had played BYU this year, he would have lost. That team is a top 15 team and better than Notre Dame. Again, this doesn’t mean he’s overrated. As the USC game proved: you need a strong offensive line and quick receivers if you’re going to beat the best in CF.

    And I’d just like to ad how much I hate Ohio State. Are there worse, more annoying fans?? Is there a more smug coach than Tressel? He thinks since he won that bogus title that he’s this great coach. Does he know that his championship is the only to have an asterik next to it?

    I hope USC drills them. And that what’s probably going to happen, seeing as most of OS’s wins this year were against teams that belong in AA -or already are(northern illionois.)

  14. Bo's shawdow says

    Quinn’s 19-5 in the last two years.

    ND’s lost to USC (#2 last year), OSU (# 2 or #3 team last year), UM #2 team this year, and USC (#2) and a last second mistake game to MSU. Four loses to top 4 teams!

    That’s pretty freaking good coming from a Ty Willingham 6-5 season and zero recruiting his last 2 years. I wouldn’t write ND off…ever.

    By the way, ND’s Strength of Schedule is #23 according to CBS Sports. Ahead of OSU’s…

  15. Barrett:
    >>Troy Smith won’t be anything in the NFL. He’s simly too small to have a large impact.<< This argument makes no sense. Smith is 6'1", 215 lbs, and that's before he goes to the NFL next year and (probably) starts on the 'roids all the other QBs are on. That's bigger than Drew Brees (6'0", 209), who has had a fantastic impact at NO. It's about as big as Tony Romo (6'2", 220), who is having a fanastic impact at Dallas. He's also similar in height to Steve McNair and Brett Favre. These guys are too small for the NFL? Size has less to do with it than matching the right player with the team's scheme. >>most of OS’s wins this year were against teams that belong in AA -or already are(northern illionois.)<< Uh, dude, NIU is I-A. >>He thinks since he won that bogus title that he’s this great coach. Does he know that his championship is the only to have an asterik next to it?<< Your troll fu is weak, grasshopper.

  16. Bo’s Shadow:

    >>Four loses to top 4 teams! That’s pretty freaking good coming from a Ty Willingham 6-5 season and zero recruiting his last 2 years. << Well, Tressel's 2004 regular season wasn't much better (going 7-4), but he managed to pull it together. I don't know what you mean by "zero recruiting his last 2 years," though. Did Willingham not recruit at all? I'm ignorant on that point. >>I wouldn’t write ND off…ever.<< I agree that would be dangerous for any team. Just to re-state my point: While I think Quinn is a smidge overrated, I wonder exactly how good ND is. You pointed out their SOS, which isn't representative of how good a team is. SOS doesn't tell you a team is good, unless that team is winning its hardest games. E.g., Stanford has the number 1 SOS, but they're not a good team because of it. Now, if Stanford was 11-1 or 12-0, AND had the #1 SOS ranking, that'd be impressive. But a #23 SOS doesn't mean anything if you're not beating the tough teams on your schedule. I still wonder, could ND beat a solid Big 12 team like Texas or Oklahoma, or a tough SEC team like Florida or LSU? I'd love to see a good matchup like that.

  17. As someone from ND nation put:

    Smith will make less money as a pro than he did at tOSU


  18. I’m still trying to figure out what Quinn’s record under two years of Willingham has to do with whether he is overrated coming into this year’s draft. I am also trying to figure out how OSU’s perennially fantastic defenses might have aided Troy Smith’s record as a starter, since we’re judging how accurately rated QBs are on their teams’ respective wins and losses. Also, look at the records of the service academies versus the Big Ten-bottom feeders and other tomato cans regularly appearing on the OSU schedule. That canard never gets old.

    This is some wonderful, unbiased, insightful analysis that is in no way glibly painting the picture that the writer wants to see. It’s deep. Kudos to the man who is hawking this post in the comments section of ND blogs. You’re a credit to the Buckeye fanbase.

  19. ROFL I see we finally got big enough to get the trolls and haters of the world to read our website….

  20. Before I say anything, I’m a diehard Irish fan.

    Couple points…

    1) I think you make an excellent observation when you mention that you think Quinn’s pretty good, but you’re not sure about the team as a whole. I think a lot of fans feel the same way right now. We’ve had moments we’re we’ve played like a Top 5 team, and then moments where you wonder how the hell we win games. It’s tough to tell.

    2) As far as comparing apples to apples, I don’t think it helps a lot to compare Quinn’s overall record. His play under Ty vs. his play under Weis has been night and day. One thing I can say is he’s a tough bastard. His first two years (and this year) he was beaten around like few QBs I have ever seen. In comparing the QB’s play against Michigan this year, I think its important to remember Quinn had to chuck the ball all game to attempt to overcome a huge deficit. Some of his turnovers were awful, but he still threw 3 TDs. Also, you neglect to mention the performance of the two v. Penn State. Quinn torched PSU, while Smith didn’t have a great day at all (probably his worst game, other than Ill).

    3) You asked if Ty recruited anyone his last two years. He did, just horribly. Next year ND will have about 8 seniors, and I believe only 3 of them play. The class behind them has slightly better numbers, but about the same playing on the field. Ty left the cupboard bare at ND, and depth has been an issue for us since he left.

    4) While Quinn’s record the past two years is great, he definitely has failed to beat any elite teams (tOSU, UM, USC). He did beat UM at the Big House last year, but they weren’t too great that year. And while I’m not saying this to piss anybody off, but other than the Michigan game this year I don’t think Smith has beaten any truly elite teams (yet, give it a few weeks). No, I don’t think ND was an elite team last year (after the drubbing at the Fiesta who could say we were?). And while Texas is a great team, I think the argument could be made that they weren’t playing great football when they played tOSU. They still had the training wheels on McCoy. That’s all debatable, and I’m not even sure about it. Just pointing it out.

    5) I think Quinn is still going to be the better QB at the pro level. He has all the skills a pro QB needs, and has been operating a TRUE pro offense for two years now. I don’t think any QB is better prepared mentally for the NFL than Quinn. Unless Smith gets into a system that allows the use of the zone read option like at the Titans (doubtful, we have yet to see it work in the NFL and I don’t know if it will) or has a powerful running game to allow him to PA pass (both QBs are stellar at it) he is going to have quite a bit to learn.

    On the same page, I have questions as to what type of NFL QB Smith can be. Please don’t get pissed off, this is just based of things I’ve heard (what the hell do I know).

    I’ve heard (just heard) rumors that many NFL scouts have serious doubts about Smith. For one, I’ve heard that there are doubts about his height. Apparently there is a belief that he is closer to 5’11 than 6’1. Is there any truth to this?

    The second thing I’ve heard was that some scouts doubt his intelligence to run an true NFL offense. I’m not sure I buy all that, as I know nothing about him other than his play. That’s just some shit I heard. I think it was ESPN radio or something like that.

    Sorry for the diatribe. Nice site.

  21. Nice massaging of the numbers. TSmith put up a ton of those W’s against crap teams like Cincy, BGU, NIU, not to mention B10 doormats IU, NW and Illinois. Take away those games and he’s more like 13-2.

  22. Monkey,

    Re: How would Quinn have fared on OSU and Smith on ND for the last three years?

    We can agree to disagree on this point, but I happen to think the opposite of what you do. Quinn on OSU would be nearly unstoppable. Indeed, the only thing that stopped him on ND this year was an unexpectedly (and inexplicably?) weak offensive front coupled with a just-decent running attack. Smith hasn’t had to contend either of these things in his time as a starter.

    The more interesting side to the question is how Smith would have done on ND. He’s obviously mobile and great at throwing on the run, so perhaps he would have fared better than Quinn, but I doubt it. ND had five games this year that were a huge challenge for the QB. Quinn was 3-2 in these games, which doesn’t sound great until you watch what he had to deal with–playing catch up with defenders draped all over him. I don’t see Smith faring much better. In fact, if you put him in situations where he simply had to drop back and throw, with virtually no threat of a running game, I think he might have led ND to losses in 4 of those 5 games.

    I also believe Quinn will make a better pro, but that’s not really what we’re talking about here. There are tons of great college QBs who don’t make it in the pros. I’m curious what will happen with Smith.

    Good luck to the Bucks in the bowl game. You guys are a great team.


  23. Brad:

    Great comment. Thanks for the insight. You make some really good points.

    As far as Smith being 5’11”, I haven’t heard anything about that. I wonder if it’s true?

    It’s interesting you bring up the scout concerns. Here in C-bus, it’s been reported on radio/tv that scouts are quite impressed with Smith… one specific mention I remember was how impressed they were at his accuracy from the far college hash. The skinny is that he can throw ANY ball, from either hash, across his body, from the pocket, on the move, sidearm, jump throws, etc.

    Isn’t that interesting? The different scout “rumors,” I mean.

    Oh, hey, one more thing: Smith has been running the zone read for most of the past season and a half. Once Sweatervest got Smith calmed down in the pocket around mid-2004, he turned him loose on the zone read, and that’s when OSU’s offense really started clicking.

    Thanks again for your comment.

    >>Take away those games and he’s more like 13-2.<< ... which is still a pretty awesome record at 87% (using that same argument, Quinn's 17-18 record is 49%).

  24. sportsMonkey,

    I don’t doubt at all scouts saying that Smith can make all the throws. I think it’d be shocking if they thought he COULDN’T make all the throws. Smith has one heck of an arm. I always was aware that he could chuck it, but it wasn’t until this season when I watched a couple games that I noticed just how accurate he is. I was quite impressed.

  25. Please tell me someone isnt trolling the Notre Dame boards to rile them up with this post.

  26. Hal, Brad and Sports Monkey,
    These have been great comments and I agree with all of it. I would even go so far to say that if you put Smith in the Willingham program as Quinn was, he’d still be a running back or would have ended up like C. Holiday.
    The true test will come next year and it’ll be interesting to see how bears out.

  27. Baby Jesus says

    Drew Bree’s
    Tony Romo
    Charlie Frye
    David Garrard
    Rex Grossman
    Jay Cutler
    Kelly Clemens
    Donovan Mcnabb
    all the Detmers
    Charlie Batch

    The list goes on and on and on with Qb’s who win that are 6’0-6’2….Stop the nonsense………………

  28. Baby Jesus,

    First of all, great name.

    Second of all, I wasn’t trying to start any nonsense. GMs don’t exactly get excited about 6-6’2 QBs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be successful. Your list demonstrates that.

    The only reason I even mentioned it is because I heard some believe that he’s shorter than he’s listed. As I’m not a tOSU fan, I don’t know anything about that. I just brought it up to see if there’s any truth to him being closer to 5’11, and figured ya’ll would know better than I do. If there is any truth to that, I think it COULD push a lot of NFL know-it-alls to be more inclined to turn him into a Hines Ward/Randle-El type of WR, because Smith is undeniably a fantastic athlete. Who knows.

    I think that it’s obvious his height COULD hurt him. Even fantastic pure passers like Leak with his four-years in a heavy passing system will likely be hurt by it.

  29. Hey, ND fan here. Although I disagree with most of the article, kudos on remaining respectful and logical – too much blind hatred (and consequently stupidity) plagues internet discussions. On Quinn vs. Smith, I think that Quinn and Smith have had very similar career successes, except that Quinn’s team has yet to beat a powerhouse team. You argue that Smith’s mobility won the UM game in ’04 (sorry if I’m wrong, running off memory here), but, correct me if I’m wrong, but did OSU’s defense keep OSU in that game? Notre Dame’s defense has been mediocre at best the past two years, and that’s a contributor to many of ND’s losses with Quinn under center. Example, Quinn would have been undyingly heralded last year for his comeback drive against SC if SC hadn’t been able to go through ND’s defense – OSU’s D would probably have stopped that 4th & 9. All I’m saying is that win-loss record is too much of a reflection of an entire team to sufficiently compare two quarterbacks, IMO.

    On Quinn vs. Smith in the NFL, I believe Quinn will have greater success. Sure, he picked up a lot of yards and wins against lower-level teams, but he didn’t just win, he torched them. Quinn is working under an NFL-style offense, thanks to Weis, and thus is more prepared for the NFL. He’s exactly the mold the NFL is looking for – big, accurate, smart, and athletic enough not to get destroyed in the pocket.

    Of course, I’m hardly guaranteeing any of these, it’s just one man’s opinion.

    Sorry about the long post.

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