Making good decisions at the quarterback position is the key to long-term success in the NFL. In just his second season as the starting quarterback for the Tennessee Titans, Vince Young has made better decisions reading defenses and avoiding the kind of costly mistakes that can lose games. It seems now Young's most difficult decision is to either run or pass.
"Vince has the talent to make plays when protection breaks down, but he sometimes put himself in a box trying to prove to critics that he's a passing quarterback," says Titans center Kevin Mawae.
Critics have sited Young's poor touchdown-interception ratio as an example of why he may never fulfill the promise of becoming an elite quarterback. His coach, Jeff Fisher, explains it differently.
"Vince is a lot further ahead of where he was last year," Fisher said. "Vince just needs to go out and play his game. It's hard to play the perfect game, but when it is imperfect, he has to have a short memory."
When asked how he balances the desire to run when a play breaks down vs. the need to pass when the situation requires it, Young clearly admits he needs to improve in every area of his game.
"I just need to do whatever keeps the defense off-balance," Young said. "I found that defensive coordinators are scheming to stop me. Kerry Collins has helped me with film study, recognizing coverages, and to decide where to go with the ball."
Young helped the Titans remain in the playoff race in Week 15 with a convincing 26-17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Young helped the Titans control the game with some timely runs and secure their eighth win of the season with two touchdowns. Young has already notched 15 career wins, proving that he is more than just a quarterback who makes good decisions; he's also proving he can win.
Petrino receives strong reaction
When Falcons players received noticed that Bobby Petrino had fled the heat in Atlanta for the greener pastures of Arkansas, their reactions were as telling as a tale from Dante's Inferno. All hell broke loose when Petrino left his $25 million contract along with a host of assistant coaches and players.
"My understanding was that we were rebuilding," said Falcons LB Demorrio Williams. "This is shocking that he left us, it's a slap in the face."
Hugh Jackson moved his family from Cincinnati to Atlanta earlier this year to become the offensive coordinator with the Falcons. Jackson says Petrino's decision to leave the team has caused great anxiety for assistant coaches and their families who were left behind.
"There are no assurances in these situations. All we can do is prepare for our next few games and then prepare for our next job," Jackson said. "New head coaches don't normally keep guys from the previous staff; they bring in their own guys.
"Betrayal maybe is a strong word, but am I disappointed? Yes. Am I mad and upset? Yes. I'm disappointed I haven't talked to him since he left the building because it affects lots of people and their families."
Jackson and other assistant coaches were left to explain Petrino's rapid departure.
"The players are angry and they feel misled. There are feelings of depression because they were buying in and now he's gone. Yes there were times when players fought and disagreed, but then they bought in."
When I spoke with the players, they seemed more concerned about their generous owner.
"Arthur Blank deserves the very best," Williams said. "I don't think he saw this coming. Two weeks ago (Petrino) said he would be here for the future. We made all these changes on our team, and let lots of guys go, like Grady Jackson, and to now to see our coach leave us like this?"
In what has been a season of discontent for the Falcons, we found that adversity can also reveal the lack of character.
"Petrino did work hard to mend those gaps between himself and his players," Jackson said. "But he didn't know it would turn into the Titanic. The NFL is the highest pinnacle of coaching. Some people aren't built to lose. What you have to do is learn from it and use those lessons to help you win Super Bowls. I thought that's what we were here to do."
It seems as though Petrino has called an audible. While fleeing the sinking ship, he may have punched a one-way ticket back to college football and will likely never return to the NFL again.