Monday, November 30, 2009

What does Maturation of Vince Young mean for the future of the Tennessee Titans?

Bud Adams isn't the crazy old owner after all. Vince Young defied the criticisms of many(including the guy writing this column) analyst that downgraded his ability to just win football games. Statistics can never fully explain the magic that Young brings to a football field. Sunday's two minute drill was eerily similar to that drive against USC in the 2006 national championship game. I've never doubted Vince's ability to create the magic we saw Sunday. In fact I believe the Titans coaching staff put a muzzle on "VY" after his rookie season. I've bought into the theory of the Titans coaching staff being paritially responsible for Young's slow development (That's another column coming soon)

Matt Leinart watched Young take away yet another win that was right in his grasp. Leinart played a great game considering he hasn't played meaningful football in over a year. The Titans coaching staff have finally learned to cater a game plan to match the talent of Young. NFL coaches of times past and present are known to be stubborn to a fault. In their defense, every coaching move is scrutinized and some of them lose their jobs on perception more so than by the reality of the situation. I know that the coaching staff look like geniuses now but not so fast. (I promise to write about this because I still have serious beef with them)

Of course wins and losses matter but the intangible qualities that produces winning football got lost in the shuffle. A 13-3 record can cause most teams to overate themselves. The biggest mistake made by Coach Fisher was handing Kerry Collins the job without competition. Training camp competition creates a culture of precision, chemistry, camaraderie and respect. Yesterday's performance by Young and his young receiving corp silenced the sentiment of Chris Johnson being the only way the Titans were pulling off this streak.

"C.J." was still up to par with another explosive day but Kenny Britt, Jarret Cook and Lavelle Hawkins all took a huge step in their own maturation process. Quarterbacks become great when they can lead by example in the huddle, on the practice field and in their preparation in the film room. Great offensive coordinators have to be bold enough to install packages that fit their personnel. Credit Mike Heimerdinger for finally recognizing this. Many local and national analyst have blamed Young for not using his legs more. But he doesn't call the plays. There's a distinct difference between how VY was coached in his rookie year to the second year. The VY that we're seeing now has come full circle.

Norm Chow and VY were the scapegoats. This year is proof positive that Young hasn't been coached to his full potential. (I promise I'm not writing that other column) Sunday was a coming out party that caused even Merril Hodge to take back some of his harsh words. (I wonder will Jason Whitlock do the same? He did it for Rush Limbaugh but I digress)

The fourteen month layoff for Young was probably the best thing to happen to him. The untimely death of Steve McNair may have centered his life in a way that most of us will never know. Young has decided to take an active role in McNair's sons lives. A sense of responsibility can bring balance, purpose and focus for a young man like Young. All of the criticism was a lot for him to take considering his track record of winning at every level he's ever played football. Now he seems to have great understanding of how to deal with life as a professional and its showing on the football field.

The layoff has been the catalyst to his maturation as a person, as a professional football player and locker room leader that his most staunch supporters expected him to be. Young must continue to be a sponge because NFL defensive coordinators stay up late too.. It's a fact of life in a league that really stands for Not for Long and not the National Football League.

The Titans organization must continue to make good on personnel decisions in order for this team to become a perennial contender year after year. Young needs to pull a page from all of the great franchise quarterbacks. He needs to spend the summer with his receiving corp. This will further cement the relationship with his teammates and force Fisher to open things up.

The defeat of The Arizona Cardinals is a signature win for the Titans and for Young. This could be a precursor of things to come. Teams must now account for Young being able to beat you with his arm as well as his legs. Young has silenced the critics at least for another week with a performance line that reads 27-43 387 yards and a touchdown.

The Titans travel to Indianapolis to face Peyton Manning (An MVP candidate) and a Colts team that beat people from multiple angles. If the Titans pull to a .500 record against the Colts, it expands the reputation of Young and further makes Jeff Fisher look inept in his decision making. If that happens look for that column I've been trying not to write to appear real soon.

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