Titans Better Off With Collins
by Matt Severance - 09/10/2008
The Tennessee Titans will be without (projected) franchise quarterback Vince Young for at least the next two weeks after the No. 3 overall pick in the 2006 draft suffered an MCL sprain in Sunday's win against Jacksonville.
The Titans will start Kerry Collins for the immediate future in place of the former Texas star, but there are other factors that may indicate the team is better served to move on this season without Young despite his 18-11 record as Tennessee's starting QB.
On the field, there is little doubt that Young has regressed from his 2006 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year season. That year, VY led the Titans to six wins in their final seven games, and the future looked bright. Thanks mainly to his rushing numbers, his stats were good if not great (51.5 percent completions, 2,199 yards, 12 TDs, 13 INTs; 552 rushing yards, seven TDs), but Young had emerged as a leader of the team.
Thus, most expected a breakout 2007 campaign, but Young struggled. His completion percentage did rise to 62.3 percent and he threw for 2,546 yards, but his interceptions jumped to 17, his touchdowns dropped to nine, his yards per carry were down 2.5 per attempt and he scored four fewer TDs on the ground. He did win, however, going 9-6 as a starter.
Largely in hopes of advancing Young's progress in 2008, the Titans brought back offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, the man largely responsible for shaping Steve McNair into an MVP with the Titans. If Week 1 was any indication, that didn't help. The Titans beat the Jaguars 17-10, but not because of much Young did: 12-for-22, 110 yards passing, one touchdown, two interceptions and only one rush for four yards.
Young was booed by the home crowd after throwing that second interception, so he proceeded to throw his helmet and sit on the bench with a towel over his head. The problem came when he reportedly refused to re-enter the game when the Titans got the ball back. Collins began to warm up, but Young did go back in after a brief conversation with Coach Jeff Fisher.
The worst thing a player can do is quit on a team, and don't think the other players didn't notice.
Things didn't improve on Monday. That day, Young met with a psychologist along with Fisher and another team official. The psychologist said Young was extremely depressed and expressed concerns to the team about Young's safety. So when Young later left his home abruptly and without his cell phone, Young's family called Fisher, worried about Young's mental state. Fisher then called Nashville police, who proceeded to look for Young.
It turned out to be nothing, but the fact that the team called the police obviously tells you something deeper is going on with Young.
Felicia Young, Vince's mother, told The Tennessean said her son does want to return but that he needs some space.
"What would you think, if you were tired of being ridiculed and persecuted and talked about and not being treated very well, what would you do? What kind of decision would you make?'' Felicia Young asked. "He may not want to deal with it (all), but you have to get to that point before you make that decision first.
"But we're not talking about football right now. We're talking about what would make him happy, and that is the most important thing."
So now it's Collins' team, and that may not be a bad thing for the on-field product. It was Collins who replaced an injured Young in the season finale last season against the Colts and led the Titans to a victory and a playoff spot. It was Collins who replaced an injured Young last week and led Tennessee on the clinching touchdown drive.
Sunday's game against Cincinnati will be Collins' first start since Week 7 of last year, when he threw for 280 yards in a win against over the Texans. This guy is a 14-year veteran who ranks third among all active QBs in total passing yards, and that's where he will be an improvement for the Titans.
Collins won't scramble like Young, but he gives the team a downfield presence. I realize that Collins has only one career touchdown pass with the Titans, but he also gets to feast on the weak defenses of the Bengals and Texans the next two weeks.
The Titans will remain a run-first, defensive club. But Collins makes the team's receivers somewhat relevant again. And, perhaps more important, he brings some stability to the position.