Browns QB Quinn backs embattled Weis

Nov 25, 2009 - 9:18 PM By TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer

BEREA, Ohio (AP) -- Brady Quinn's best game as a pro seemed to make him nostalgic about his college days.

With Charlie Weis perhaps down to his final days at Notre Dame, Cleveland's quarterback said he would love to be reunited with his former coach.

"It'd be nice," Quinn said. "I'd like to play under him again if I had the opportunity. It'd be cool."

Quinn set career-highs with four touchdown passes and 304 passing yards in a gut-wrenching loss at Detroit on Sunday. On Wednesday, he spent a portion of his locker room availability addressing speculation about Weis' future with the Fighting Irish.

Quinn played two seasons for Weis. One of the most popular and successful players in ND history, Quinn believes the school would be making a mistake if they fire Weis.

"Personally I think it would be a horrible decision if they did make that change," Quinn said. "I think there are a lot of circumstances that play into seasons like this. Hopefully he'll have an opportunity to have another year with the guys."

There are signs Weis is on his way out at Notre Dame (6-5), which will conclude its regular season on Saturday at Stanford. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Weis will return to campus after the game, detouring from a previously planned West Coast recruiting trip.

With a manageable schedule, this was supposed to be the season the Fighting Irish returned to national prominence and made a BCS bowl. Instead, they have been plagued by close losses - five by a total of 21 points - failed to beat rivals Michigan and USC and lost for the second time in three years to Navy, a school Notre Dame beat 43 straight times before 2007.

Weis is just 35-26 in five seasons at the school, but has gone only 16-20 without Quinn, who led ND to the Fiesta and Sugar bowls.

Quinn said it's tough to pinpoint why the Fighting Irish have slipped nationally.

"I know as a player there, one of the things we prided ourselves on was winning games and not worrying about stats or individual accolades, but pulling through tight games and winning games and going in there and fighting every week," Quinn said.

"I think if you've got enough talent on that team, there's guys that need to pull together and start finding ways to win."

One of the arguments often given for Notre Dame's struggles is that the school's high academic standards make it difficult to recruit. Quinn sees it differently.

"It plays to their advantage too that smart players on the team are able to do a lot more from a schematic standpoint and prepare for teams in better fashion than other teams," he said.

Quinn had sympathy for Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who was punched in the eye outside a South Bend bar early Sunday morning, hours after the Fighting Irish lost in double overtime to Connecticut.

"It's unfortunate anytime that sort of situation occurs," Quinn said. "You just hope everything is all right and there's nothing else from it. That's just part of it sometimes when the season is tough."

Quinn's breakout performance against a horrible Detroit defense gave the Browns (1-9) and their fans some hope in an otherwise bleak season. Cleveland's offense has struggled under first-year coordinator Brian Daboll, who employed a no-huddle attack that had the Lions scrambling.

The Browns scored four touchdowns - one less than their season total - in Detroit, and Quinn's passing yards were more than in Cleveland's three previous games combined.

The trick is to do it again.

"You don't want to be a one-hit wonder," coach Eric Mangini said.

Quinn is trying to make the most of his second chance. He began the season as Cleveland's starter, got benched after 2 1/2 games and was reinstated after the team's bye week. Before his four-TD game in Detroit, Quinn, just 1-7 as a starter, completed just 13 of 31 passes for 99 yards in a loss against Baltimore.

He threw three TD passes in the first quarter on Sunday, hooking up with rookie Mohamed Massaquoi for a 59-yard score on the first play of Cleveland's second offensive series. The quick-strike play silenced a few of Quinn's critics, who don't believe he has the arm strength to stretch defenses.

Quinn also effectively used a pump fake to keep the Lions guessing and the Browns, who visit Cincinnati this week, moving down the field better than they have all season.

It was a major step for a unit that has looked mostly lost through 10 games. Still, it didn't end with a win.

"I always think we're turning corners and making progress every week," Quinn said. "But obviously, we didn't put enough points on the board."

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