ESPN’s Mark Schlereth said something today that I thought was totally out of line. He said of Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young, “You don’t have the football acumen to play the position the way it needs to be played.” That was exceedingly harsh considering that Young has only played two full seasons (last year, he got hurt and replaced by Kerry Collins).
This is just another example of the fact that in the NFL, winning doesn’t matter – it matters more how you do it. I guess Schlereth doesn’t like Young’s mobility or long windup. Young has a career record of 18-11 as a starter. The two years before Young came to the Titans, they were 9-23. So Young has a career record of 18-11 and he’s considered a bust? Jay Cutler, in the same draft class as Young, has a career record of 17-20, and Cutler, who had QB guru Mike Shanahan coaching him, is considered a demigod by the media (though Schlereth has also criticized Cutler).
Sound familiar? In another blog entry I talk about the fact that Josh McCown, with a career record of 1-7, is the favorite to be the starter in Tampa Bay despite the fact that Byron Leftwich has a 24-20 career record, and Tampa eventually wants to give the job to a rookie who hasn’t proven anything.
Young’s stats aren’t that great but he has been working with some of the worst wide receivers in the NFL. He also led four fourth quarter comebacks during his rookie season when he was named AP Offensive Rookie of the Year. During one of those comebacks, Young overcame a 21-0 nothing deficit to the New York Giants. Another win was over the 10-1 Indianapolis Colts, who were leading by 14 points.
Young was named one of the 10 best college football players of all-time by ESPN, so isn’t it a little too early to give up on him – after an 18-11 record as a starter, a trip to the playoffs, and only two full seasons? Collins has earned the starting job after a great season last year, but don’t give up on Young just yet. I don’t blame Young for wanting to play and avoid potentially missing another full year from his career.
I don’t like it when a high draft pick is given a starting job based on potential instead of earning it. At the same time, though, it’s just as bad when someone is counted out prematurely. It is a little bit ironic that quarterbacks like Collins, Young, and Leftwich all fit both descriptions.
At the same time, Young should work hard and know that Collins might get injured, and there would be a good chance that he will get in and play about half the season anyway.
It’s not just Schlereth, though. ESPN’s Trent Dilfer has been critical of Young and Merril Hoge has had well publicized verbal dust ups with Young. It seems like for someone who has never had a losing season and who you would expect to get better and not worse, Young has come under undue criticism.
Schlereth is sounding a little like Charles Barkley – say something with authority and you must be right. He’s also a little like Kenny Smith – an average player who was lucky to have Hall of Famers like John Elway with the Broncos and Art Monk and Darrell Green with the Redskins to get him championship rings. Most of Schlereth’s commentary is great but with statements like “You don’t have the football acumen to play the position the way it needs to be played,” and “You’re no good at playing quarterback,” maybe Schlereth should get rid of any personal vendettas, study more football and do less soap opera acting.