Vince Young Equals Kordell Stewart?



by Mathew Hurley, Managing Editor

Monday Night's Tennessee/Jacksonville game will provide a great opportunity for analysts to evaluate where exactly Vince Young stands as an NFL quarterback.

Jacksonville's defense is vulnerable, but the team is likely to show up for a huge divisional game that's being nationally televised. We don't see the Jags as playoff material. But, they just won two games in a row, and are going to treat this game with the highest priority.

*If Young struggles tonight, it's more evidence that he's just not destined to be anything more than he is right now.

*If Young has a huge game, we can start to wonder about the possibilities for a guy who can run AND pass in a way that scares the heck out of opponents.

What is Young right now?

*Is he just another Kordell Stewart? You remember the Pittsburgh quarterback nicknamed 'slash' because he could supposedly do so many things well. Defenses adjusted to his running threat, and suddenly he was a guy who couldn't do anything well! You can catch teams by surprise with a very talented unique athlete. Can he win after defenses adjust?

Stewart couldn't, because QB's have to throw and he wasn't very accurate downfield. That describes Vince Young pretty well. He's trying to improve his accuracy. He's not bailing out of the pocket and scrambling recklessly like he did earlier in his career. To this point, his impact and production are most like Kordell Stewart.

*Is he another Michael Vick, without the off-field crimes? Vick was better than Stewart because he could throw the ball harder, and therefore possessed a higher upside. Vick was never as good as his hype. Again, the media overreacted to a very special talent without realizing how well NFL defenses can adjust to a threat once they've had the time to study it. But, in his early prime, he was an NFL caliber starter who would give you a chance to reach the playoffs. Maybe that's still where he is. Vick can't stay healthy long enough for us to find out!

It's certainly no embarrassment to be the next Michael Vick, even if that's not the same as being the next Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. Vince Young has a very realistic chance to reach this level. Some would say he already has. Our stat guys don't seem the similarities in the numbers though. Young only has big play potential in the air when he catches opponents napping. Vick, though erratic, could do more damage on command.

*Can he be another Donovan McNabb? And, by that, we mean...can he start out as a guy who gets raves for his legs, but then eventually wins respect with his arm. It's easy to forget that McNabb started out as a guy with 'escape-ability' that made him supposedly impossible to deal with. Young running quarterbacks slow down because of age, injuries, more injuries, and even more injuries. McNabb was able to develop some patience in the pocket, and became a high level passing quarterback who can still scramble when he absolutely needs to.

Those are the futures Young is looking at. Out of football soon because the current negatives outweigh the remembered positives of his youth...a Wildcard level contributor...or a guy who can get you to championship games and the occasional Super Bowl.

Let's look at the last few games for some guidance on the present:

At Dallas: 12-25-0-163, with the Titans going 33% on third downs
Vs. Denver: 17-28-0-167, with the Titans going 25% on third downs
At NYG: 10-16-0-110, with the Titans going 46% on third downs
Vs. Pittsburgh: Benched because of horrible play!

The numbers suggest that the coaches don't trust him. He hasn't passed for 170 yards or more in a game over the past month. The good news is that he didn't throw any interceptions after trying to be aggressive vs. Pittsburgh. The bad news is that the team just can't trust him to be aggressive. That's not Michael Vick or Donovan McNabb. That's Kordell Stewart just before the league gave up on him.

Conservative play with the inability to move the chains just won't get in done in this league. You can throw for less than 200 yards if you're moving the chains with your running backs and shutting people down with your defense. You can't keep a job with 160 passing yards and 30% on third downs in games that are going down to the wire. And, obviously, if your coach yanks you mid-game against your toughest opponent...the writing is pretty much on the wall.

So, YOU may see this as another Monday Night game to bet in Las Vegas for fun and profit. Believe it or not...a guy's career may be on the line! It's time for Vince Young to make a formal announcement about his future...or lack of future in the league. How you believe he's going to perform at the podium will probably dictate your selection in this game. It may influence your total play too. Jacksonville's been playing high scoring games of late. If Young produces, we'll see that again.

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