For Vince Young, Sitting May Be Better

Bryan FlynnAnalyst IJune 3, 2009

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 7:  Vince Young #10 of the Tennessee Titans drops back to pass during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at LP Field on September 7, 2008 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Recently, Vince Young made strong statements that he should either start or be traded to a team that wants to start him.
That makes me wonder not if Vince Young should be the starter after only three seasons in the NFL, but if the Tennessee Titans can win a championship with Young under center.
You can only really look at the first two years Young has been in the league since he was hurt early in his third season and did not play.
There is no question that Young is a great athlete with huge potential running the ball in the NFL at the Wildcat position.
The question is: Can Young become a drop back quarterback?
Even at Texas, where Young won a national championship, he did a lot of the damage with his legs.

Young ran for 200 yards in the title game and USC could not stop Young's running even when they knew it was coming. USC was not as good as we all thought they were, but that is for another day. Young also passed for 267 yard in the game as well but, passing in college is not the same as passing in the NFL.

Even the best college passing college quarterbacks have to adjust to NFL speed and defenses. You have to give any quarterback time to adjust to the pro game just like you'd give a freshman time to adjust to the college game.

I think it is slightly easier to succeed as a freshman in a major college program than to thrive as an NFL rookie.

In two full seasons as a NFL quarterback, Young has a 56.9 completion percentage, 21 touchdowns, and 30 interceptions. For his career, Young has 57.3 completion percentage, 22 touchdowns, and 32 interceptions.

While the INTs are a problem, by no means is this the worst start to a NFL career. Looking back at the last 10 Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, only three have a worse career completion percentage than young.

Most of the Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks have a career completion percentage in the low to mid-60s. The best completion percentage of the quarterbacks that have won a Super Bowl is Kurt Warner at 65.4 percent.

From highest to lowest completion percentage Peyton Manning is at 64.4 percent, Tom Brady at 63 percent, Ben Roethlisberger, 62.4 percent, and Brad Johnson at 61.7 percent. All won a Super Bowl or multiple Super Bowls.

The three quarterbacks with the lowest career completion percentage to have won a Super Bowl are John Elway at 56.9 percent, Trent Dilfer at 55.5 percent, and Eli Manning at 55.9.

If you look at the quarterbacks with low completion percentages that have won a Super Bowl, Elway was helped by Terrell Davis' great running game, Dilfer had one of the best defenses in NFL history, and Manning’s team became hot at the right time. Manning's Giants played the New England Patriots in the last game of the season and they had already game-planned for the Pats before.

If you look at winning Super Bowl quarterbacks from the mid-1990s, Steve Young at 64.3 percent, Troy Aikman at 61.5 percent, and Brett Favre at 61.6 percent.

If you notice, to win a championship you need an accurate passing quarterback. (See chart of quarterbacks)


I'm not saying Kerry Collins is the answer for a championship, either. Collins has a career 55.7 completion percentage. As we see from the numbers from the last 17 Super Bowl winning quarterbacks, 14 were or are able to complete passes at least 60 percent or higher.

Collins had a completion percentage above 60 once in his career, in 2002 with the New York Giants.

For anyone thinking a running quarterback can't win the Super Bowl, let’s look at some of the better-known running quarterbacks.

You can first point to Randall Cunningham, who had a 56.6 career completion percentage. Cunningham never made it to a Super Bowl but did play in a NFC Championship Game.

Then there was Kordell Stewart, who was known as Slash for his ability to run, pass, and catch the ball. Stewart, for all his skills, had a 55.8 career completion percentage.

Stewart never made it to the Super Bowl although he did make it to an AFC Championship Game.

The best-known running quarterback could be Michael Vick, who made plays with his legs that most remind me of Young. Vick had some success as a quarterback but only had a career 53.8 completion percentage.

Vick did go to a NFC Championship Game only to lose. He's since had well-documented legal troubles, playing just two seasons after making the championship game.

Donovan McNabb defeated Vick in that NFC Championship game. McNabb has a 58.9 career completion percentage. McNabb has been running quarterback since he came in to the league in 1999. He lost the Super Bowl after that championship game to Tom Brady, and we have already stated how good his completion percentage is.

It might not be a bad idea for Young to sit a couple of years and learn how to be a better drop back passer.

McNabb, still a good runner, has become a better passer during his career, with injuries forcing him to become a better drop back passer.

Still most quarterbacks that are known for running will always have to answer this question when they play badly: Did they run too much or not enough in a game after a loss.

Vick can attest as he tried to become a better pocket passer and McNabb has had to deal with this question his whole career.

If Young can find the right balance between pulling the running and staying in the pocket, he could win a lot more games and lead his team to a win in the playoffs, something the Titans have not been able to do the last two seasons with either Young or Collins at quarterback.

Young might want to start but if he wants a Super Bowl title to go along with that national championship, he will have to become a better passing quarterback. Sitting behind Collins for another year or two would not be a bad thing.

Young has to be willing to work on being a better pocket passer.

That means getting his completion percentage up if he wants to get a ring.