Thursday, July 14, 2005

Six quarterbacks who have never been in my kitchen | by Michael

Question 27. Please complete the following analogy.
David Cutcliffe : Peyton Manning :: Peter Vaas : _____

Good question. Cutcliffe, as we all know, was synonymous with quarterbacking excellence, having tutored the Mannings, Heath Schuler, Tee Martin, and others in an illustrious college career.

When Peter Vaas was hired, few knew very much about Vaas himself, let alone his quarterback pupils. The names Jonathan Quinn, Todd Husak, Phil Stambaugh, Ryan Van Dyke, Kevin Thompson and Chris Lewis hardly strike fear in the minds of NFL defensive coordinators, and in most cases, neither did coordinators in college lose any sleep over these quarterbacks. That said, let’s take a closer look at each of these quarterbacks…before and after Peter Vaas' involvement.

Jonathan Quinn
Of all the NFL Europe quarterbacks Vaas has developed, Jonathan Quinn might be the most familiar. A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Quinn was a third round draft pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1998. In college his numbers were actually rather mediocre; he completed 346 of 675 passes (51.3%) for 4,864 yards with 28 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. As an NFL quarterback, Quinn started two games down the stretch during his rookie year but then hardly played in 1999 and 2000.

In 2001, Quinn was allocated to the Berlin Thunder in NFL Europe, and immediately led them to the World Bowl under Vaas. He completed 167 of 296 passes (56.4%) for 2,257 yards with 24 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.

Since his stint in NFL Europe, Quinn played as a back-up in Jacksonville before moving on to the Kansas City Chiefs and Chicago Bears. Last year Quinn started three games while splitting time with Craig Krenzel in place of the injured Rex Grossman, and he performed rather poorly. He completed 51 of 98 passes (52%) for 413 yards with 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions. Quinn was also sacked 15 times. He was released this spring after the Bears drafted Purdue’s Kyle Orton, and no one has signed him yet.

Todd Husak
The former Stanford Cardinal was a 6th round draft pick of the Washington Redskins, and he is also one of two Bill Diedrick pupils coached by Vaas in NFL Europe. Husak threw two passes during his rookie year and completed both; unfortunately, the two completions netted -2 yards. After that, Husak bounced from the Redskins to the New York Jets’ practice squad to the Denver Broncos all within his first two seasons. Immediately following the 2001 season, the Broncos assigned Husak to the Berlin Thunder, where he beat out former Boston College quarterback Tim Hasselbeck for the starting position.

In 2002, Husak led the Thunder to a second consecutive World Bowl championship. That said, his numbers weren’t nearly as good as those of Quinn; he completed 208 of 356 passes (58.4%) for 2,386 yards with 14 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Unfortunately, the 2002 NFL Europe season was the pinnacle of Husak’s career. He bounced off and on the Jets’ roster in 2002 and 2003, and was momentarily with the Cleveland Browns in 2004, but he never played in another NFL game. Husak is now back at Stanford, as head coach Walt Harris brought him on as a graduate assistant to work with the offense. Additionally, there was some speculation that Husak could have joined the Irish in a similar capacity...had Tyrone Willingham been retained.

Phil Stambaugh
After a record-setting career at Lehigh, Stambaugh was signed as a free agent by the Buffalo Bills in 2000. Later that year, he was released by the Bills and picked up by the New Orleans Saints, who allocated him to the Rhein Fire, where he completed 110 of 200 passes (55%) for 1,166 yards with 2 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in 2001. He then found his way to the Jacksonvile Jaguars’ roster as their 3rd quarterback, and in 2003, the Jags sent him back to NFL Europe and the Berlin Thunder.

Under Vaas, Stambaugh’s play reached new heights. He completed 169 of 254 passes (66.5%) for 1,759 yards with 13 touchdowns and 6 interceptions (2 coming on desperation Hail Marys).

Since then, Stambaugh has been unsuccessful in his attempts to stick with an NFL team, and for now he's simply just trying to find any professional football that will sign him. He briefly spent time with the New Haven Ninjas in arenafootball2, and while he continues to look for professional opportunities, he has been working as the offensive coordinator for his alma mater, Pius X High School.

Ryan Van Dyke
The Seattle Seahawks signed Van Dyke as an undrafted free agent coming out of Michigan State in 2002. Numerous injuries nagged Van Dyke throughout his Spartan career; he played in twenty-four games, starting five. The emergence of Jeff Smoker certainly did little to help, too. Eventually the Seahawks cut him, and Van Dyke was able to sign with the New York Giants in the fall of 2003. That winter the Giants sent him to the Cologne Centurions, a new franchise coached by Vaas.

For Cologne, Van Dyke completed 174 of 280 passes (62.1%) for 2,003 yards with 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Despite his strong play under the watchful eye of Giants' brass, Van Dyke was cut last September. He’s currently a back-up with the Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena Football League.

Chris Lewis and Kevin Thompson
Former Penn State quarterback Kevin Thompson (below) was signed as an NFL free agent by the Cleveland Browns in 2000 and had an initial tour of duty in NFL Europe during the 2001 season. Ever since then, he has tried to catch on with various teams but he hasn’t had much luck surviving training camps. The Buffalo Bills recently signed him and allocated him to Cologne, where he beat out Bill Diedrick recruit and pupil, former Stanford quarterback Chris Lewis. The Arizona Cardinals had signed Lewis as an undrafted free agent out of college and were hoping that a season in Europe would accelerate his development.

Neither Thompson nor Lewis had a strong season for Cologne in 2005; Thompson completed 126 of 234 passes (53.8%) for 1,561 yards with 8 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, while Lewis completed just 34 of 75 passes (45.3%) for 412 yards and 3 interceptions. A third quarterback from Japan was also on the Centurions' roster, but he struggled as well.

Because the Cardinals wanted to make room for Timmy Chang, former quarterback at Hawaii, Lewis was cut on June 24th. As far as Thompson, his future with the Bills is still a little uncertain. High draft pick J.P. Losman is expected to start for the Bills this fall, and they have also signed NFL journeymen Shane Matthews and Kelly Holcomb as back-ups.

As the above illustrates, there have been no Mannings in Vaas’ oeuvre, nor have there been any Kurt Warners or even Jake Delhommes. It’s only fair to acknowledge that none of his quarterbacks have ever made an impact in the NFL after their stints in Europe. Is that his fault? Maybe, but realistically? Probably not.

More importantly, these next two seasons Peter Vaas will have an opportunity to develop his own Manning or Shuler...with junior Brady Quinn as the guinea pig. Two interesting aspects worth noting: (1) Vaas will have more than the one year constriction of NFL Europe to tutor his quarerbacks; and (2) he won't have the dual responsibilities of developing a quarterback while running a team (which is why Weis wanted to hire a quarterbacks coach in the first place).

David Cutcliffe : Peyton Manning :: Peter Vaas : Brady Quinn?

It remains to be seen. Irish faithful certainly hope so.