By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts seer of truths
Vince Young turns 28 today, the age when many good quarterbacks start kicking their career into a new gear. But Young's career doesn't need a new gear. It needs a massive overhaul in the eyes of most "pundits," observers and analysts.
Here's our question: why?
As in, why would any team needing a quarterback not seek a player with the following resume:
- Former No. 3 overall pick after brilliant college career
- Career 63.8 winning percentage as an NFL starter
- Coming off seasons in which he went 12-6 as a starter; the other guys who started for Tennessee went 2-12
- Competitive, above-average passer rating of 84.9 from 2008-10
- NFL's second best running quarterback, and still in his athletic prime
- Two-time Pro Bowler
- Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2006
And yet, when ESPN's Adam Schefter was making his rounds on TV and the web Monday morning, it was to report that Young might consider a backup job in Philadelphia.
The NFL silly season never seemed sillier.
In a league where it's been proven time and time again that a change of scenery can absolutely change a talented QB's career on a dime, the fact that Young could struggle to find work is mind-boggling.
Jim Plunkett, Rich Gannon, Drew Brees, Fran Tarkenton, Steve Young, Vinny Testaverde – all were guys who showed flashes early in their careers but didn't emerge as great ones until they found the right situation.
Considering that Vince Young has only had one situation thus far – five years in Tennessee, for one coach and one owner – you'd think teams would line up to give him a second shot.
Were his problems high-profile and troubling? Sure they were. Was his play perfect? No.
But you need a quarterback to win in this league, and Young has proven he can win in the NFL. Unlike Donovan McNabb, whose upside has disappeared, and Kevin Kolb, who's still proven nothing, Young has demonstrated that he has what it takes to play QB in the NFL.
It's not as if he's burned bridges league-wide – he's simply burned them in Tennessee.
He represents the dream commodity on the NFL's stock market – low risk, high reward. He's scheduled to make $8.5 million in 2011, and while his new team will almost certainly work some type of different deal out, money isn't the point. If you have a shot at upgrading the QB position greatly, money isn't the issue. You'd give up a draft pick and the money if it meant getting a stud back there.
And Young can be that stud. He has done everything well at times during his career. He's staged comebacks. He's been an effective short passer. He's been an effective long passer – in fact, according to the film-scouring crew at ProFootballFocus.com
, Young was the league's best deep passer in 2010. Not Peyton Manning or Philip Rivers. But Vince Young.
And he's led a ball-control offense without taking sacks or turning the ball over.
He's also looked bad for long stretches, too. And his problems, which have cropped up from the sidelines to the locker room to the world at large, are serious. They might hold him back, might make him lose the respect of his teammates.
But NFL players only really care about one thing from their quarterback – that he play well enough for them to win. Young does that. His mates might not run through a wall for him, as they would for Tom Brady or Drew Brees, but there are only so many Bradys and Breeses out there.
At the very least, Young can give you what he gave Tennessee over the aggregate of his career – a pretty good NFL quarterback who wins more often than loses (30-17 career record).
At the very most? Young could experience a Michael Vick-like epiphany, fueled by being humbled by his exit from Tennessee, and put all of his periods of success together at once.
And that's a player any team would want -- dynamic, effective, and usually a winner.
San Francisco. Miami. Washington. Oakland. Cincinnati. Buffalo. Arizona. Seven teams who didn't win last year, seven teams that have collectively been dead for the overwhelming majority of the decade. Seven teams in desperate need of an upgrade at quarterback if they want to improve.
All of whom can have Vince Young for almost nothing.
Which of them will be smart enough to realize that bold moves are the only ones worth making sometimes?