You can walk up to seemingly any Titans fan and get a great reaction out of two words: Vince Young.
You either love him or hate him, so it seems. With the expected release of Young today, we’re going to take a look back at his career, the ups and downs and just throw it out there so you can love him or hate him even more.
Not growing up in Houston, I wasn’t too familiar with Young until he went to college. The University of Texas seemingly had the next big superstar to meet the sports world. And meet them he did.
After redshirting his freshman year, Young played sparingly as a redshirt freshman awaiting his turn. As a redshirt sophomore, Young led Texas to an 11-1 run for the 2004 season. In 2005, Young seemed to develop the passing aspect of playing as a dual-threat quarterback. Everyone wanted him, except the Texans but we’ll get there later. Young garnered a 26-10 touchdown to interception ratio as a dual-threat quarterback who also ran for 12 touchdowns. He was crazy good. He single-handedly won games, or at least it looked that way.
Read this excerpt from ESPN’s Eric Neal:
"He keeps the groove once the game is on. It’s third and 10 on his own 20. The Longhorns are down 28-12 to start the third quarter at Oklahoma State. The junior quarterback takes a deep drop but sees covered wideouts everywhere, so he quickly steps up and glides between his blockers. Then it’s a feint left and a step to the right, a little something he calls his Texas Two-Step, and he’s into free space. Cowboys safety Donovan Woods looks to bottle him at the line of scrimmage, but Young sells him a pump fake so funky it launches Woods into midair. Ten seconds, 35 strides and 80 yards down the sideline later, VY’s in the end zone and Texas is on its way to 35 unanswered points. “He’s got so many moves,” says tackle Justin Blalock. “He’s like a kid out there, having fun.”"
If you didn’t watch him at Texas, that’s exactly what it was like
So, 2005 ends and Vince Young seems to single-handedly devour USC. Let me tell you, that Southern Cal team was probably one of the best college teams ever. They had Heisman winners Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. LenDale White (soon to be Titan and now possibly out of the league) was probably the best goal-line back in the nation, then there was Sedrick Ellis who would later go to the Saints at the top of round 1. They were good, but Young was better.
2006 NFL Draft
When the draft happened, NFL fans everywhere were dismayed. Vince Young was not drafted by the Texans, instead they took some defensive lineman nobody knew–or at least that was the average reaction. Whether or not that was a good move is a conversation for another day, but the good news was that the Titans had a bright, shiny new quarterback….that could run. All it cost the Titans was the third pick in the draft. It was okay that they missed out on stars Jay Cutler, Haloti Ngata, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Joseph, Chad Greenway, Santonio Holmes, Greg Jennings and D’Qwell Jackson among others.
Career With the Titans
So, Young gets the starting job his rookie season and took off running. In 2006, Young threw 12 touchdowns and ran for 7 more, including one of the most dramatic quarterback runs to end a game in which he beat the Texans. All was validated for Young, he just beat his hometown team that passed him up in the draft. Things were looking good, until you looked at detail.
On the outside you would see things like Pro Bowler and Rookie of the Year, but when you looked close you noticed 12 touchdowns thrown to 13 interceptions thrown. Young also had 6 fumbles. That means he had 19 turnovers his rookie season and made the Pro Bowl and I’ll never understand it. To make the Pro Bowl under those conditions you should throw at least 80 touchdowns.
Then Young mentioned he thought about retiring after his first year, remember that?
So, we’re talking about a guy that started 13 games and played in 15 in his rookie season. He won 6 of the final 7 games and had a record of 8-5 on a team that wasn’t….. we will say they weren’t great. I guess it can be overwhelming to be everyone’s hope in football, but this should have been a sign.
Young improved. He started in 15 games and threw for roughly 2,500 yards. He also had 9 passing touchdowns, 3 rushing touchdowns and then there’s those other stats. 10 fumbles with only 3 lost, and 17 interceptions. I did not think he would ever be a passer.
Yet, his record was 9-6 for the season. That places his career record at 17-11 and it’s hard to argue with a winning record while a quarterback is still developing.
Young was knocked out of the game week 1 against the Jaguars and Kerry Collins took over en route to a Pro Bowl (another odd choice for Pro Bowl). This was the year that Head Coach Jeff Fisher reached out to police because Vince Young mentioned suicide to a therapist before driving away with a gun.
That was supposedly taken out of context, end of story.
Young took the reigns back from Collins in week 8 against Jacksonvill and did his usual thing: he won. The interesting note here is that Jacksonville had previously thumped the Titans to the tune of 37-13. Under Youngs quarterbacking, the team rallied and returned the favor 30-13. Both teams lost the home game.
Young would finish with 10 touchdowns, 8 interceptions and a measly 2 fumbles lost. The stats are getting better, aren’t they? It seemed as though he had arrived. Under Young, the Titans went ahead and won 5 games straight and changed their season record from 0-6 (before the Jacksonville win and Youngs first start of the year) to 8-8 at the end. Young delivered a miracle. He was back, and with an 8-2 record on the season.
With 2009 being a clear announcement that Young’s football potential could be realized, 2010 got exciting pretty quick. Unfortunately, Young would only play 9 games, starting 8 of them due to season-ending surgery on his throwing hand. He went 5-3 as a starter. The guy wins, somehow, someway, he wins and in 2010 his stats were winning. Young threw 10 touchdowns to 3 interceptions.
Young and HC Jeff Fisher seemed to get into some drama that we can skip over. It basically ended with owner Bud Adams being given an unofficial ultimatum of sorts: Young or Fisher. He chose neither. He fired Fisher, or Fisher resigned….however you want to look at it.
The Titans draft Washington star quarterback Jake Locker in the 2011 NFL Draft with the 8th overall pick..everyone knew Young was done..
What’s the future hold for VY? Well if the rumors on twitter and ProFootballTalk.com are true, then the Miami Dolphins hold serious interest in Young once he gets released from the Titans today.
By my count, Young has a 30-16 career record as a starter. I think the real quesition is “Can Jake Locker do that?”. I’m sure teams will be all over Young for offers, but how many will be serious? Young’s quarterback rating in 2010 was near the top of the league early on. He was really coming along, but have the Titans put a dark cloud over his head? I guess we will see. Here’s to hoping he gets a good environment and has a good career!
This being a Titans, I will add that the good career doesn’t have to be against us.