It’s clear who won’t be the Tennessee Titans’ quarterback next season.
The team plans to cut ties — one way or another — with Vince Young in the coming weeks. Coach Jeff Fisher says Kerry Collins is welcome to return, but as a backup. Rusty Smith is, based on his first career start (a 20-0 loss at Houston) — at best — a work in progress.
Who takes the first snap from center in 2011 is anybody’s guess, but there is reason to believe that change will be for the better, particularly given the way the team finished this season (6-10). That’s not to say it will make the Titans the best team in the NFL.
In Fisher’s first full season on the job (1995), he turned away from all three quarterbacks who started for the team the previous season: Cody Carlson, Bucky Richardson and Billy Joe Tolliver.
He instead turned to veteran Chris Chandler, and the then-Houston Oilers improved from 2-14 to 7-9.
Two years later, Chandler gave way to Steve McNair, who had spent two years on the bench waiting his turn. That move paid dividends in 1999 when McNair took the franchise to its only Super Bowl appearance. The immediate impact was negligible, though, as Chandler’s last and McNair’s first seasons each ended with 8-8 marks.
McNair held the job until 2005, a miserable 4-12 season. Collins was brought in days before the 2006 opener and dropped three straight starts before Young, that season’s first-round draft pick, replaced him and ultimately guided the team to an 8-8 record.
It’s clear, therefore, that the Titans have options.
A veteran such as Chandler and a rookie such as Young each helped turn bad teams into respectable ones in short order.
The challenge now is to find the right guy.
“We’re going to go out and decide who’s going to be there,” Fisher said. “ … We’ll simply do our best we can to illustrate the direction of this franchise.”