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Tavern talk: Quinn still needs improvement

Browns QB lacks accuracy, but he’s worth keeping. Michael Lombardi

Print This December 09, 2009, 04:30 PM EST

I’ve been unimpressed with Brady Quinn since he played at Notre Dame and have not been a real fan of him as an NFL player, in large part because of his inability to put the ball in specific locations with precision-like accuracy. My evaluation is not personal, just based on his play. The other area of concern I’ve always had with Quinn is his inability to make throws down the field. His yards-per-attempt average has always left me disappointed. This season, he’s 4 of 30 on passes over 20 yards, and for his career, he’s 6 of 37, so his failure to put the ball in the right spot down the field is still a problem.

When I asked Saints quarterback Drew Brees last weekend how he throws the ball to covered receivers, his response was, “I can put the ball in a spot where only my guy can make the catch.” I then said, “You must be very good at throwing darts,” and Brees modestly replied, “I’m decent.”

My point here is that I’ve never seen Quinn demonstrate that type of accuracy with the football, but I admit, the past few weeks he’s improved as an overall player in two of the Browns’ four games.

In the last four weeks, Quinn has played well against the Lions and in the first drive of the Chargers game, along with the second half. He has done a very good job protecting the ball, throwing only two interceptions, and has seven touchdown passes. He’s still not going to be a high-percentage completion passer, but if he can make plays down the field, then the completion percentage is not as important. This is where the Redskins’ Jason Campbell has improved and is the critical area that Quinn must develop.

But has he done enough for the Browns to draw any firm conclusions? Yes, there are faint signs of hope, but not permanent conclusions can be drawn from his recent play, good or bad. If I were in the Browns’ position this year, I would keep Quinn and make sure that I invested in another quarterback — much like the Chargers did when they had Brees and still drafted Philip Rivers. If Quinn makes significant progress, then he’s a valuable trade option, or even the quarterback of the future. So drafting another quarterback is a win/win for the Browns.

The next four games will also help in the team’s overall evaluation of Quinn. He must continue to improve his game and his ability to make plays. Much like with Campbell, Quinn needs to focus on his improvement and not worry about what the defense or special teams are doing. He can only affect the areas he can control.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

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