KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chiefs offensive coordinator Brian Daboll didn’t have to spend much time this week trying to figure out what new starting quarterback Brady Quinn does and doesn’t do well.
Quinn started nine games with Daboll as the coordinator in 2009 when the two were together with the Browns. That experience, plus this year’s offseason practices and last week’s game against Tampa Bay, give Daboll a good idea of not only Quinn’s strengths and weaknesses, but also the differences from former starter Matt Cassel.
“I think Brady is pretty well-versed in the things we’ve done since we’ve been here,” Daboll said. “He’s had some carryover from when he was with Cleveland.”
Quinn made his first start for the Chiefs two weeks ago in their 38-10 loss to Tampa Bay. Then, he was an injury replacement for Cassel, who missed the game because of a concussion.
After last week’s bye, coach Romeo Crennel made the switch permanent, starting with Sunday’s game against Oakland at Arrowhead Stadium. That move sent Daboll to the playbook, weeding out plays that favored Cassel’s abilities and featuring those that play to Quinn’s skills.
“Their skill set might be slightly different here or there,” Daboll said. “But they’ve all run the plays that we’ve run since April and May and June and July. You might tweak a play here or there based on the comfort level of the quarterback or the consistency of the throw, but they’re fairly similar, just a few tweaks here or there based on the guy.
“You don’t have to change the entire playbook, but you have a ton of plays to utilize. You know the plays that one guy might have a little more comfort level than maybe the other guy. If they are good in terms of attacking what that defense is trying to do, then you go ahead and put those in.”
If the Tampa Bay game is an indication, the Chiefs will use a shorter passing game with Quinn as their quarterback. He tried few passes down the field against the Buccaneers. The longest completion was just for 19 yards to running back Nate Eachus.
“If the defense presents that as an opportunity, we will,” Quinn said when asked whether the Chiefs would try more long passes against the Raiders. “The fact of the matter is we’re going to throw it downfield if we have the opportunity. You don’t want to force things, because that is one thing that is not good, especially when you end up getting turnovers the way we have. I think we’d like to take what the defense gives us, continue to move the chains and make plays when they are there for us.”
No matter the quarterback, finding a way to energize the passing game is a priority for Daboll. The Chiefs’ longest pass play of the season is a skimpy 33 yards, and their 11 interceptions are the most in the league.
Not even halfway through the season, the Chiefs have benched their original starting quarterback and lost one of their best receivers, tight end Kevin Boss, for the season with a concussion. Three of their most underachieving players are receivers Dexter McCluster, Tony Moeaki and Jon Baldwin.
Perhaps their biggest problem is that the Chiefs are about to play their seventh game of the season and at 1-5 haven’t led during a game all season. It might make Daboll’s job of calling plays easier if the Chiefs could play a game on their terms.
“The beginning part of the game, you’re just calling the game the way you need to call the game,” Daboll said. “Unfortunately, we’ve been putting ourselves in too much of a position later in the game, third or early fourth (quarter), where we’re down by too many points and that changes (play-calling) a little bit.
“In the early part of the game, you’re calling what you’ve planned for, what you’re prepared for and things like that. We have to do a better job in not putting ourselves in that hole. That’s what we have to do.”