That's Vince Young they're playing, not Steve

Mike Prisuta didn't like Matt Ryan, and he doesn't like Vince Young. That means the Steelers and Dennis Dixon could be sitting pretty come Sunday night.

It's Dennis Dixon again in Tennessee, in part because the perception on the South Side of Pittsburgh is that Dixon grew into the job as the Atlanta game progressed and in part because his struggles were attributed more to execution than recognition.

We'll buy that and, like Mike Tomlin, we'll anticipate a better performance against the Titans.

We'll likewise expect Vince Young to be what Matt Ryan was on the season's opening Sunday against the Steelers -- not good enough.

Almost lost in the dissection of Dixon and the after-the-fact calculation of just how many of his passes should have been intercepted in addition to the one Mike Peterson thieved was just how lame a performance the No. 3 overall pick in 2008 had delivered.

Ryan didn't throw a TD pass, either.

He, too, misfired on open looks.

And he, too, was intercepted in agonizing fashion.

As much as we'd like to attribute all of the above to a resurrection of the Steelers' defense, it was also obvious Ryan too often lacked the goods when necessary.

In the wake of such a performance whispers have begun to circulate around the league that, in retrospect, perhaps he was over-drafted and is destined to become an above-average quarterback as opposed to a franchise-caliber passer.

The arm strength just isn't there.

Few if anyone acknowledged as much leading up to the 2008 Draft. Perhaps that was because of Ryan's off-the-charts intangibles. Perhaps that was because scouts thought he would grow into his body, and that his arm strength would catch up to him the way it did for Tom Brady.

Whatever, it hasn't happened.

Which brings us back to Young, who, like Matt Ryan, isn't in danger of being confused with Nolan Ryan any time soon.

Yes, Young can make plays with his legs and yes the Steelers are going to have to be on their details when the Titans dust off the option. But eventually Young is going to have to beat the Steelers with his arm if he is to beat them at all. The Steelers' defense has allowed nine 100-yard rushing performances in the past eight seasons, none to a player named Chris Johnson.

And Young isn't a grip-it-and-rip-it gunslinger. He more or less flicks the ball out of his hand, and while of late it appears to finally be getting to where it's supposed to go it still takes a long time to get there.

Translation: There will be interceptions out there for the taking on Sunday. Fat, juicy, potentially game-changing interceptions provided the Steelers can simply catch the football.

Although Young infrequently puts the ball up (17 attempts in the Titans' opener against Oakland) he frequently puts it up for grabs.

The No. 3 overall pick in 2006, Young is 9-2 as a starter since taking over for Kerry Collins last season (Young's career record as a starter is 27-13). But of the eight wins he engineered in 2009, only one was achieved against a playoff team (Arizona). The other seven came against Jacksonville, San Francisco, Buffalo, Houston, St. Louis, Miami and Seattle.

The Titans faced two other playoff teams during Young's run and lost to both (Indianapolis and San Diego). Young threw only 10 TD passes in his 10 starts last season.

He opened this season by throwing for a pair of scores, but those came against the Raiders. Dixon, thus, probably isn't going to have to throw for 300 yards and otherwise light up the scoreboard to win a second consecutive start. His challenge is to play as he did at Baltimore last year and again against Atlanta this year, minus the interceptions and with a little more accuracy.

There's reason to believe Dixon can do so, and that if he does it'll be more than enough.


Steel City Insider Top Stories