Will Vince Young ever be an NFL quality QB?
Kerry Collins and Vince Young
By Bill Smith
This week head coach of the Titans Jeff Fisher said that he wants Kerry Collins, the 36 year old free agent, back as the starter in 2009. That was bad news for Vince Young.
Collins played well but not spectacularly in 08 leading the Titans to the best record in the AFC with a QB rating of 80.2. He threw 12 TDs and 7 interceptions but managed the game very well taking maximum advantage of one of the top running games in the league. He had threatened to retire unless he was “promised” a starting job. He has never been a top QB and has a career passing rating of only 73.8.
Young was the 3rd overall pick in the 06 draft. He took over the starting QB spot in the 4th game of 06 and led the team to an 8-5 record including 6 wins in a row. The wins overshadowed a less than acceptable performance by Young. He had a QB rating of just 66.7 with 12 touchdowns but 13 interceptions. In 07 he started 15 game missing only week 7 against Houston due to injury. However, he was relieved by Collins in 4 other games. He took the Titans to an 9-6 record but again was only able to manage a 71.1 passer rating with 9 TDs and 17 interceptions. That is not acceptable in the NFL.
By the start of the 08 season Fisher decided that Young needed a little more seasoning. He sat and Collins started.
So why couldn’t a top draft choice like Young beat out a weak armed transient veteran like Collins? Right now the Titans are wondering if Young will ever become an NFL quality quarterback.
Young can’t read defenses. At Texas, he never had to. He would look for his primary receiver. If that guy was covered, he would run. There wasn’t much of a play book which suited Young just fine. Young was so good an athlete that he didn’t need one. He and the Longhorns used his athleticism to win games. In the NFL, he makes bad reads that result in interceptions. Coaches who let a QB throw more picks than touchdowns get fired.
In the NFL, Young struggled with his footwork and that led to inaccuracy. In Texas, he worked from a shotgun most of the time. While all young QBs coming from a college spread offense have a learning curve, Young never seemed to turn the corner. He made exactly the same read mistakes in game 17 that he made in game 1. He also tended to stare down a receiver. That leads to picks.
He also won’t throw the ball unless the receiver is open. In the NFL, you have to throw a receiver open. You throw the ball to give the receiver a chance to make the play. Players in college are wide open most of the time. In the NFL, the weakest CB is better than the best CB on any college team. Receivers don’t get that open. Young never developed the anticipation necessary to make big plays in the NFL. Watching Kurt Warner will show what great anticipation can do for a QB and a team.
The NFL uses much more complex defenses than college. Most colleges use man and zone and some use a zone blitz. In the NFL, there are combination man/zone defenses, rotating zones, and dozens of multiple blitzes. An NFL QB must be able to learn what an opponent does and adjust to it on the fly. He has to process this information, determine who will be open based on the coverage and get rid of the ball in no more than 2.5 seconds. Young has not been able to do that and worse yet, he may never be able to.
There are indications that he may be too emotional to ever be a successful NFL QB. When a team wins, the QB is loved by everyone. When a the team loses, too often the QB is the goat. Young never had to experience that much in high school or at Texas. He has not taken it well in the pros.
The truth is that the biggest problem might be that Young just isn’t smart enough to be an NFL QB. He scored 6 on the Wonderlic Test. If you can’t learn the playbook, and remember the tenancies of the opponent, you won’t win in the NFL. You have to have reviewed so much that you can anticipate exactly what coverage you are going to see. If they change coverage just before the snap, an NFL QB needs to have seen enough film to know what they will do and where the gaps in coverage will be. Young just can’t do that.
In my opinion, Young will never make it as a starting NFL QB. He is such a great athlete that he could be spectacular as the wildcat QB. He would be better off as a slash type QB along the lines of Kordell Stewart. The sooner that the Titans realize that and make other arrangements for a QB of the future, the better off they will be in the long run.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for NFLDraftDog.com and edits fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .Will Vince Young ever be an NFL quality QB? by Bill Smith