Titans quarterback Vince Young played in only nine games this past season but still managed to put together a career-high passer rating of 98.6. (Joe Robbins/Getty)
Quarterback A, originally a second-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, has played a grand total of 19 games over the course of four seasons and started seven times. In those seven starts, his team went 3-4. For his career, he has completed 60.8 percent of his passes with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 11-to-14 and a passer rating of 73.2.
Quarterback B, originally a first-round selection (No. 3 overall) in the 2006 draft, has suited up 54 times during his five years and started 47 of those games. As a starter, his club went 30-17. To date, he has connected on 57.9 percent of his throws with a TD-to-INT ratio of 42-to-42 and a rating of 75.7.
Quarterback A is Kevin Kolb of the Eagles, and apparently it's perfectly fine if an organization wants to trade away a high pick in Round 1 to acquire the 6-3, 218-pounder and then immediately sign him to a contract extension worth tens of millions of dollars. Quarterback B is Vince Young of the Titans, and even though he looks to be the more experienced and accomplished player on paper -- the .638 winning percentage is impressive, too -- even fans of QB-starved franchises like the Panthers, Cardinals and 49ers wouldn't be rushing to the airport to welcome the 6-5, 230-pounder with open arms.
By now, Young's story has been told ad nauseum. The LeBron James of football as a prepster in Houston. A BCS championship game performance for the ages that resulted in a national title for Texas. Offensive Rookie of the Year for the Titans. He was on the verge of becoming one of the league's true superstars.
But then it all started to unravel. Benched by coach Jeff Fisher in the 2007 preseason for a violation of team rules. Injured in the 2008 opener -- an apparent suicide attempt that may or may not have been blown out of proportion followed -- and forced to backup duty while veteran Kerry Collins led Tennessee to a 13-3 finish. Unable to win back the starting job in 2009 because Fisher said he didn't earn it. More locker-room drama with Fisher this past season that resulted in yet another benching. A fight at a Dallas strip club caught on tape. Titans owner Bud Adams, who was always one of Young's biggest supporters, announced Jan. 8 that No. 10 wouldn't return in 2011.
"Vince is a good man," Adams told the Tennessean after he made his decision. "Vince realizes he probably stepped on a lot of toes and did some things he shouldn't have done. He is sorry it took place, but he understood what we decided to do and I hope he's learned a lesson."
The billionaire knew all too well that Young and Fisher could no longer coexist, and he ultimately sided with the NFL's longest-tenured coach.
Well, he sided with him for a little less than three weeks at least, catching everyone off guard when Fisher was pink-slipped Jan. 28.
"After the season was complete, we had numerous discussions on the direction of the team and were pleased that we were moving forward with Jeff at the helm," the Titans announced in a prepared statement. "Since that time, it became evident that consensus was increasingly hard to find and reality wasn't matching the vision we discussed. It is unfortunate that this decision is coming at this juncture, but we believe that we have reached the point where change is in the best interest of both parties."
More curious: The club didn't release Young before the lockout, most likely because it believes he's still worth something and would like to trade him. But no CBA means no transactions of any kind, and with each passing day of the impasse between players and owners, Young's value in the eyes of other teams dissipates.
Once the draft arrives at the end of the month, all those Carolinas and Arizonas and San Franciscos out there will be picking up the phone to call Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett, Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick and a host of other fresh-faced signal callers.
Mike Munchak is Tennessee's new coach, and right now his depth chart at the game's most important position consists of Young, an impending free agent in Collins, a career backup in Chris Simms and a second-year pro in Rusty Smith. Collins is 38 years old. Simms has started once since 2006. Smith assembled a horrendous passer rating of 25.0 in two contests as a rookie. Like it or not, Young is Munchak's best option to make the most (read: win the most games) of his first opportunity as a head coach.
The Titans have the eighth pick in the draft, which means they'll have a chance to take one of the top QBs available. But they may be better off beefing up a defensive line that hasn't fully recovered since Albert Haynesworth skipped town, be it inside with a tackle like Auburn's Nick Fairley or outside with an end like North Carolina's Robert Quinn. No doubt, the quarterback position needs to be addressed for insurance purposes alone, but targeting a Ricky Stanzi from Iowa in Round 3 or 4 won't immediately signify a complete rebuilding project -- getting, say, Gabbert at No. 8 will do just that.
No lockout, no question about it: Young is in a different uniform by now.
But there is a lockout. Young is still property of the Titans. The trade market has not arrived and may not for several months. Releasing Young before the lockout was an option never exercised. Adams' attachment to Houston, where he made his money, and its native sons has perhaps never been more evident.
Don't get rid of that No. 10 jersey just yet.
|John Crist is an NFL analyst for Scout.com, a voter for the Heisman Trophy and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America.|