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Brady's Big Games - A Redux

Much of the anti-Brady Quinn hype seems to revolve around the theory that Quinn simply beat up on bad teams throughout his career at ND, considerably padding his stats, and was ineffective in the big games.  I am honestly split when it comes to Quinn: partially convinced that he's a low-risk, high-return QB candidate for the Texans, partially concerned that the critics are justified in their complaints.  So I did the best thing that I could think of: compiled a database of BQ's games at ND.  

For this project, I catergorized Quinn's starts throughout his four-year Irish career into three groups: Weak, Respectable and Limelight games.  I'll mention the wins and losses because they are obviously relevant, but much of Notre Dame's struggles during Quinn's tenure were clearly the result of a punchless defense moreso than ineffective quarterback play.  Regardless, here's what I found:

Against Weak opponents:
2003 - 23-43, 333 yards, 2/2 TD/INT (2-0), QB rating 111.5
2004 - 65-127, 908 yards, 6/2 TD/INT (3-1), QB rating 83.7
2005 - 183-276, 2650 yards, 22/5 TD/INT (6-1), QB rating 117
2006 - 106-157, 1322 yards, 19/2 TD/INT (5-0), QB rating 127.7

Career v. Weak Opp:
Total: 377-603, 5213 yards, 49/11 TD/INT (16-2), QB Rating 109.5
Average: 21-33, 290 yards, 2.7/0.6 TD/INT

Against Respectable Opponents:
2003 - 89-176, 1035 yards, 4/10 TD/INT (2-3), QB rating 52.6
2004 - 71-125, 1052 yards, 5/4 TD/INT (1-3), QB rating 84.5
2005 - 42-64, 579 yards, 7/1 TD/INT (2-0), QB rating 124.4
2006 - 122-182, 1448 yards, 10/0 TD/INT (5-0), QB rating 109.4

Career v. Respectable Opp:
Total: 324-547, 4114 yards, 26/15 TD/INT (10-6), QB rating 87.6
Average: 20-34, 257 yards, 1.6/0.9 TD/INT

Against v. Limelight Opp:
2003 - 35-86, 343 yards, 1/3 TD/INT (0-2), QB rating
2004 - 54-101, 615 yards, 6/4 TD/INT (2-2), QB rating 83.5
2005 - 67-110, 690 yards, 3/1 TD/INT (1-2), QB rating 84.7
2006 - 61-128, 656 yards, 8/5 TD/INT (0-3), QB rating 67.8

Career v. Limelight Opp:
Total: 217-425, 2304 yards, 18/13 TD/INT (3-9), QB rating 68.5
Average: 18-35, 192 yards, 1.5/1.08 TD/INT


  1. Brady Quinn has played in a lot of big games, and while he was not sensational, he was not the reason that his team lost the games that they lost, most of the time.  An 18/13 TD/INT ratio against USC, Michigan, etc. and in bowl games is nothing to be ashamed of.  One concern would be that Quinn never seems to have had a real breakout performance in one of these huge games.  His best numbers were against USC in 2006 in a blowout loss.  A positive appears to be that he never had an absolute collapse in a big game, though his 2006 Sugar Bowl performance against LSU was certainly a bad one.  Watching that game, I felt like the ND offensive line's inability to contain the LSU pass rush was the deciding factor much moreso than Quinn's shortcomings.
  2.  He won the games he should have won, going 16-2 against teams with .500 or losing records in his career.  His stats are clearly better in those games, which is to be expected, but numbers like 19/2 TD/INT in 2006 and 22/5 TD/INT in 2005 are certainly worth taking notice of.
  3. He is reliable, having started every game of his college career except for the first three games of his freshman season.  
  4. The trends are mostly positive.  His TD/INT ratios, completion percentages and passer ratings, in general, all moved upwards throughout his career.  In particular, his 5-0 record in games against GT, Penn State, Purdue, UCLA and Navy (with a 109.4 QB rating and 10/0 TD/INT ratio) in 2006 is very impressive.
What conclusions do you reach, if any, from this data?  Clearly his trio of 400+ yard games against Michigan State, BYU and Purdue really got the nation's attention, and those are not defensive powerhouses.  But I think from looking at these numbers, it is fair to say that while Quinn never dominated on the big stage, he consistently performed well enough for his team to win.  How does that translate to the NFL?  That's for Rick Smith and Gary Kubiak to decide.