Vince Young hasn’t had a lot go his way recently.
The days of him doing a Heisman pose with a crystal ball, leading comeback after comeback and playing in Pro Bowls seem like a distant memory after the turmoil and controversy that have characterized Young’s career recently. All fans seem to remember now is Young getting hurt too often, throwing his pads into the stands and never getting along with his coach, Jeff Fisher.
Young’s days in Tennessee are over, and he gets a fresh start in Philadelphia, where he will try to replicate the turnaround Michael Vick has enjoyed there. The former Longhorn was released by the Titans last Thursday and signed a one-year deal for up to $5.5 million with the Eagles two days later. It was one of many masterful moves made by Philadelphia, who also acquired defensive end Jason Babin and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (a member of last year’s Super Bowl-winning Green Bay Packers), along with cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha, who was considered the finest member of this year’s free agent class.
Both sides should benefit from this agreement for many reasons. First, Young may only be in Philadelphia for one season but should be comforted by the drastic improvements Eagles quarterbacks have made before him. Donovan McNabb was booed by Philadelphia fans the day he was drafted and he was a revered Eagles legend by the time he left. Kevin Kolb went from an unproven system quarterback to being handed the reins to the Arizona Cardinals offense. Remarkably, Vick has gone from a loathed dog-killer to a redeemed gun-slinger.
Reid and his coaching staff will also be more supportive of Young and his playing style than the Titans’ staff was. Offensive coordinator Norm Chow never seemed to realize trying to make Young a pocket passer was like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Fisher never even wanted Young. Titans owner Bud Adams’ desire to draft Young trumped Fisher’s wish to get USC’s Heisman-winning quarterback Matt Leinart. Reid won’t mind Young scrambling to move the chains, because he’s seen it work for Vick. He won’t call the cops on Young because he mistakenly thinks he’s going to kill himself, and he certainly won’t throw him under the bus the way Fisher did.
Michael Vick is the most electrifying starting quarterback in the NFL, but he’s also the most injury-prone. At 6’0”, 215 pounds, Vick runs like a gazelle but doesn’t absorb hard hits like other, bigger quarterbacks do. The Eagles’ front office is aware Vick is more susceptible to injury than most and knew they needed a quality backup after sending Kolb to Arizona. That’s why they got Young. With skill players like DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek and LeSean McCoy, Young not only has a chance to play, but to play well.
That being said, this isn’t a move that will only benefit Young. There aren’t many teams who have a backup quarterback who’s been to two Pro Bowls, won over 60 percent of their starts and been Rookie of the Year. If Vick gets hurt, not only will they have a proven winner still taking snaps, but they won’t have to change their offense much because the way Young and Vick play is so similar. Vick is as good as it gets when it comes to quarterbacks, but if he gets injured, the Eagles will still be left with one of the league’s most talented signal-callers.
Young had his ups and downs in Tennessee, but it was time for him to go. His last few months there were filled with injuries, controversies and scandals. The Titans didn’t want him anymore and Young had nothing left to gain from them. They felt they needed to go in a different direction (even if it meant starting from scratch again with veteran Matt Hasselbeck preparing rookie Jake Locker). Bottom line: Tennessee was no longer a good fit for Young. Philadelphia is.