GLENDALE, Ariz. – Brady Quinn knew he needed to make a positive impression in his first start in any type of game since joining the Broncos via trade in March 2010.
Thursday was hardly what he had in mind.
With a quarterback rating of 7.64 that looked more like a late-1990′s starting pitcher at Coors Field than an NFL quarterback, Quinn’s struggles were backed up by numbers as damning as any he could have envisioned.
Quinn spent much of his 30 minutes of work under siege as the Cardinals sprinted through a leaky second-team offensive line. Even when Quinn managed to get passes away, they were occasionally mishandled.
“We just couldn’t really get into a rhythm,” Quinn said. “At the start of the game, I had a couple of drops, and I threw a couple of bad balls.”
Quinn didn’t play against the Seattle Seahawks last Saturday, so citing rust as an issue was justifiable, but the fifth-year quarterback didn’t believe that alone could explain his 4-of-12, 26-yard effort.
“I don’t know if it was rust or if I just wasn’t seeing things well, but it was just not a good way to cap off the preseason,” he said.
It could affect Quinn’s position on the depth chart, although if the Broncos keep three quarterbacks it might not make a difference in practical purposes, since the emergency-quarterback limitations have been scrapped for this season.
Quinn and Tim Tebow were co-No. 2 quarterbacks throughout the preseason and split practice and game repetitions on a fairly even basis. Even the rotation of the quarterbacks was even; Tebow was up first among the two at Dallas and against Seattle; Quinn was up first against Buffalo and Arizona, starting Thursday because Kyle Orton and the first team were withheld from action.
Tebow managed to overcome some early struggles to direct the Broncos’ only touchdown drive, and looked much more comfortable in the fourth quarter than in the third. There was no such improvement in fortunes for Quinn, whose last throw was an interception thrown into a crimson thicket of Arizona defenders.
“They did a good job defending what we tried to do,” Quinn said.