Did anyone really think Vince Young was going to be the quarterback of the Titans next season? I know owner Bud Adams has loved Young since his glory days at the University of Texas, but Adams had little choice but to adhere to his executives' recommendation to part ways with Young.
Adams lives year round in Houston, therefore he is not involved in the day-to-day operation of the team, having to rely on general manager Mike Reinfeldt and coach Jeff Fisher's advice and counsel to make decisions. Plus, Young was due a $4.25 million roster bonus next March, and who would endorse paying more money for a player who is immature, doesn't work hard and never prepares for the games?
I know teams take chances, but this one was a no-brainer.
Now, I have been to several Titans games and have heard all the stuff about this being VY's team and how he is the man. Yet, I never felt from watching his mannerisms around the team or his leadership ability that "the man" talk was legitimate. Young had a chance to be the starter in a late season game in Miami, but chose not to work out before the game, thus allowing Kerry Collins to start. Do you think Tom Brady would allow Brian Hoyer to take his game reps if healthy?
Young never showed the command or leadership around the team, in part because many of his teammates knew he was late for meetings, missed meetings, and was ill prepared during the week. I've learned from my 20-plus years in the league that being "the man" requires hard work and dedication, not just resting on your collegiate laurels.
All of Young's supporters are going to tell me I am an idiot for criticizing Young, pointing to his 31-23 record as a starter. They're the same people that ripped me when I said Young won't be back, and that Young is lazy and misses assignments, along with meetings. Most of Young's supporters will say he needs more talent at wide receiver, along with a VY-friendly offense that is more creative highlighting his skill set. Really? You think a new set of plays is going to make the difference?
Yet objectivity never seems to enter the Vince Young discussion. To be fair for background, I did like Young when he was entering the draft. I thought he had a different skill set -- not fitting a conventional offense, but in the right system he could succeed. And I admit I was dead wrong -- about his ability to blend into the right offense and about his commitment to be a great player.
Young has not improved since his first day in the league. He makes the same mistakes then, as he does now, and he shows little improvement in being able to throw the ball with great precision and accuracy. Young has not been able to throw the ball effectively when his team is behind in the game and the defense knows he has to make throws.
But what is more telling than Young's numbers when he is behind in games is his production throwing the ball when he has the lead. Young has only thrown 13 touchdowns when leading, and 11 interceptions, which clearly signals the team is not comfortable putting the ball in Young's hand with the lead.
Young never earned his coaches' respect, or his teammates' and now he is faced with the cold reality of finding a new team. This new team must be willing to overlook his faults and invest time, along with money, into determining if Young can develop into a quality starter. Which team will be willing to take this leap of faith? There are so many teams that need quarterbacks, so there has to be interest, right? However, by signing Young, is his new team solving its quarterback problem?
My belief is that Young and his agent, Tom Condon, will be hard-pressed to find a team willing to allow Young to compete for the starting job. No one is going to give him a starting job or a starting contract. If a team is interested, it will be for a low salary and the opportunity to compete. Nothing will be given, as everything Young does from this day forward will have to be earned.
Young can turn his career around, but it will take a huge commitment on his part to work hard to be responsible and show some maturity, especially dealing with his coaches. He must bury his ego and start working on the essential qualities he must have to become a total pro. This decision by the Titans should serve as a wakeup call. And all of Young's supporters should encourage him to dedicate himself to the game and rehabilitate his career, not lash out at people who are critical.
I love this time of year, because "win or go home" is real. In the playoffs, the teams that can make the right adjustments the quickest, and can strategically handle the game, normally win. In the playoffs, matchups matter, as well as how the game is managed.
Now, with the new overtime rules, managing the game will require more thought. How teams handle the first possession will be fascinating to observe, and I have no doubt there will be a game management issue that causes one team to lose this weekend.
Preparing for big games the Walsh way
Bill Walsh, the legendary 49ers coach who won three Super Bowls, had a set of rules for playing in a big game. He believed that the coaches had to pay special attention to certain phases of the game. Here is a list of his beliefs:
|Legendary 49ers coach Bill Walsh had a certain way to prepare for big games. Might explain why he won three Super Bowls. (Greg Trott/Associated Press)|
1. Simple, clean game plan is best. Players who know what to do will play faster and harder. Less is better.
2. Make sure you have four runs that you know can work -- and will work.
3. How you handle all the SY (short yardage) and GL (goal line) plays is critical. What is the plan for the first fourth-and-short in their territory? Coach it all week.
4. Situational Football will win the game for us. How we handle all the elements of the game. Red Zone determines big games, spend more time on RZ and third down than first-and-10.
5. Build your strengths around their weaknesses. Not a scheme game, but get your best players on their worst.
6. Talk to the team about not playing out of control. No personal foul penalties, no late hits. We are a well-coached team, no matter how big the game and where we play. We play OUR style.
7. Preach calmness to the staff. The outcome of this game will not be determined in the first drive, or first quarter. Your staff has to act calm and patient. Project the image of quiet confidence. You have to coach the staff on this. Like complaining to the officials, if the players see the coach doing it, then they think they can do it.
8. Do not depend on the home field to win the game. Players and coaching will win the game. Not because we are at home.
9. Save something for the second half -- a new formation, a new blitz, an adjustment.
10 Who adjusts the best will win the game. Therefore, it is more important for the coaches to work harder than the players. We have to be well prepared.
11. Prepare for the longer half time, have a theme for the talk to the team, and base it on the game. Make sure the message is short and clean, but not reciting all the mistakes you made.
12. Depend on what got your team to this game. To be good, you have to have tendencies.
13. Practice crisp and shorter.
14. Want players "FRESH".
15. Go back to a four-game study of your opponent. Coaches to do extra work, not practice the players longer.
16. Go back as far as you can go to find trick plays and other plays that have hurt them.
17. Work on execution -- must win the game here.
18. Do not distract players with a secret weapon. If it fails, they will be left wondering "what to do."
19. Business-as-usual approach to the players, do not talk about the BIG game. It is a game.
20. Explain how we will win the game; it is not a motivational speech on Wednesday, but rather a business approach. The players must sense you are relaxed.
21. Do something in the kicking game that can gain you an edge. Fake onsides return. Spend more time here then anywhere as the HC. Expect them to do the same.
22. Plan on how you will react when down early. How will the other coaches react? Our emotions will be displayed for the players. Talk to the staff about being in control, about how we are all business, and go to the next play.
23. Getting a first down in the first quarter does not win the game. Do not react like its life and death in the first period. Prepare the team for the 15-round boxing match.
24. Talk to the team about what we do well. How we will win the game.
25. Talk to the team about how well we have overcome adversity. Do not talk about this being a big game.
How great was Coach Walsh, huh? Enjoy the games.
Follow Michael Lombardi on Twitter @michaelombardi