By Mike Gallagher
This bust matchup is much like the 2007 Sugar Bowl these two QBs met in: one sided.
Brady Quinn and Jamarcus Russell went into the game as the first and second rated quarterbacks in the nation, and Jamarcus Russell had a huge game on the way to LSU’s 41-14 demolition of Notre Dame.
Unfortunately for Russell, this time he comes out on the wrong end of the one-sided affair, as he is clearly the bigger bust of the two quarterbacks.
Some will make the argument that Jamarcus Russell was never that good in the first place and that his credibility is only based off that one BCS bowl game. Don’t be fooled, that game had been in the works his entire college career.
Looking at his stats, his freshman year was very pedestrian, while his sophomore year showed signs of improvement, but his junior year was when he burst off the page. He was learning and building on his experiences in college, and it all came together that junior year, ESPECIALLY in the bowl game.
Let’s be clear though, Brady Quinn was the better college quarterback. Throwing for almost 10,000 yards and 86 touchdowns in only three years dwarfs the college numbers of Jamarcus Russell.
When Russell was taken first overall, it was a clear statement of the potential he had, rather than the body of work he had accrued at LSU. Scouts saw the pro ready body, big arm, and clear growth in college as signs that he was the next great thing at the QB position.
The accolades of being the #1 pick also brings great responsibility and pressure, things Quinn didn’t have to face right away.
When drafted 22nd overall by the Browns that same year, Quinn did have the same instant pressure and expectations. Derek Anderson assumed the starter’s role ahead of Quinn in his rookie year. Quinn only had to throw eight passes the whole year; against San Francisco in garbage time of the season’s last game.
Since then, Russell has been the starting QB in 25 games for the Oakland Raiders. In those games, the Raiders are 7-18. Some may say that the Oakland Raiders are not exactly exploding with talent around Russell. This is true, but number one overall picks are cursed with having to turn around bad teams, whether it’s with help, or all on their own.
On top of that, Quinn’s supporting cast isn’t any better. Josh Cribbs, Chansi Stuckey, and arguably the best of the group, Mohamed Massaquoi, leave much to be desired from the WR position.
Brady Quinn has started 8 games for the Cleveland Browns since he came to the league, and is 1-7. Cleveland hasn’t been the same since 2007 when Derek Anderson led the Browns to a 10-6 record. Injuries decimated them in 2008, leaving Bruce Gradkowski as their starting QB, and their defense hasn’t kept them in many games.
The plain and simple truth of it is that Jamarcus Russell was the number one overall pick. He was taken based on all the potential he had to be a superstar. Whether it’s the coaching staff or the player’s fault, that potential has never come close to fruition. He has now had a season and a half worth of starts under his belt and that should be plenty of time to get acclimated to the NFL.
Instead, Russell is having his worst season. He is second to last among starting QB’s in touchdowns, passer rating, average per pass, and 29th in yards. He has been benched for the aforementioned Bruce Gradkowski, who pulled an upset of the much feared Bengals last week.
That should show that a lot of the blame, contrary to Russell’s opinion, falls on him. It won’t be long until he’s in the category of Ryan Leaf and Akili Smith as biggest QB busts of all time.
Personally, I don’t think you can call Brady Quinn a bust yet. Eight starts is not that many, and he has shown flashes of being able to captain a pro football team. His performance last week, albeit against the Lions, was impressive, and something that he can possibly build off of.
The real giveaway that it’s not Quinn’s fault in Cleveland is Derek Anderson. He’s been the only person worse than Russell in the categories I mentioned earlier. This shows that Quinn is doing everything he can with the tools around him, and can’t be blamed for the poor performance of the team.
Brady Quinn still has time to prove himself in the pros. Jamarcus Russell’s time is running out.Follow paulmbanks