Will the real Vince Young please stand up?
Perhaps no player in the 11 seasons the franchise has been in Tennessee has been debated and argued about more on talk radio, Internet message boards and around water coolers than Young.
And a game like the one in Saturday’s 23-17 Titans loss at Cleveland showed exactly why there is so much debate about Young and his ability or not to lead the Titans offense.
Call it a vicious cycle, a catch-22, a fatal flaw or whatever you will. But all you have to do to get a synopsis of Young’s career as a Titan is watch what unfolded against the Browns Saturday evening.
Young entered the game with 1:51 to play in the first half and brilliantly guided the Titans downfield in the two-minute offense, making good reads and good throws in his first real opportunity to operate the first-string offense this preseason.
But then, just as it looked like Young was about to cash in with 13 seconds left in the half with first-and-goal at the 4, came the type of mistake that once again brings out the naysayers and begins the debate about his future as an NFL quarterback all over again.
That’s because Young dropped back to pass, could not find anyone open and decided to run – with no timeouts remaining. And when he not only failed to get into the end zone, but fumbled the ball away, all the good of the outstanding two-minute drive went for naught, and the Titans went to the locker room with no points to show for it.
It got worse for Young in the third quarter before it got better, as, backed up near his own end zone, he threw an ill-advised pass off his back foot in the flat, making it easy pickings for Browns linebacker Alex Hall, who returned it 11 yards for a touchdown and a 20-7 Browns lead.
But just as soon as you’re ready to wonder if Young will figure it out in time, he confounds again, leading a fine drive, sparked by his own 23-yard scramble on the first play and capped with a nice 15-yard touchdown throw to Matt Mulligan to again swing the pendulum back the other way enough to spark the debate again.
The stats sheet alone says Young had a stellar game Saturday night – 17 of 24 for 174 yards, with one touchdown and one interception, plus 20 yards rushing on two runs.
If only it was that easy to measure the long-term fortunes of Vince Young.
But it’s never that simple. Those seeking to spin Young’s progress in a positive light will point to his resilience after the pick-six touchdown and his moxie in moving the team up and down the field. They will say it is a sure sign of the maturity that eluded him after an interception in last year’s season opener began his unraveling. Point taken.
And those on the other end of the VY debate will surely point out that a quarterback going into his fourth NFL season should be making better decisions than the ones to run with no timeouts or to throw ill-advisedly off his back foot into harm’s way. Again point taken.
And thus the debate begins anew.