At a charity event last month, Jeff Fisher is does the unthinkable. After a gut wrenching lost to the New England Patriots 59-0 the previous sunday, Jeff takes off his jacket, revealing a Peyton Manning jersey as he says the now infamous line, "I just wanted to feel like a winner", to the shock and criticism of ESPN, Titan Fans, and just the media in general. Catching the attention of the owner, Bud Allen makes his own critical statement during the week leading up to their upcoming game off bye, "I want to see Vince Young play". Though it was hard to swallow for Jeff, it didn't seem like the worst idea to send back at the former, "Rookie of the Year", against a lackluster Jacksonville pass defense.
Little did everyone know that Vince Young would, in fact, now be on a mission to salvage the 0-6 season. In doing so, going on a red, hot, five game win streak with a team that had all, but written him off.
Vince was selected 3rd overall, first round of the 2006 NFL draft, and quickly made a name for himself in his first season. Leading Tennessee to finish the year off to a 8-8 record, he threw for 2,199 yards, rushed for 552 yards, and scored 12 touchdowns passing, and seven rushing touchdowns. He was awarded the NFL offensive rookie of the year, and even found himself flying to beautiful Hawaii for his very first pro bowl. After stepping into the shadow left behind by former great Steve McNair, it seemed like the Houston native was intent of not only making a name for himself; but also solidifying himself as the franchise quarterback.
The Tennessee Titans were his team, and he was the their future, so long as his self doubts were in check.
His encore performance in 07' was where the criticism began building. The sudden emergence of the Titans top defense, and Chris Henry rushing assault gave the Titans a playoff shot, but Vince was the most inconsistent part about the team. Young had thrown an interception in most games, finishing the year off with a noteworthy 17 and only 9 passing touchdowns. However, what wasn't as looked at was his improved completion pct (51.5 to 62.3) and throwing more yards at 2,546. As the Titans met the Chargers in the wild card playoffs, Young passed dreadfully 138 yards and 1 interception, as no offense was created from Tennessee; losing 6-17.
Although his first playoff game, critics began wondering if the fault was to be blamed on his bad passer rating, or the fact that he had no real legit wide receivers to throw to. With his confidence falling under the media backlash, it seemed like defeat was coming fast.
The hammer finally fell during the first game of the 08' season against the Jaguars. After throwing two costly interceptions, Vince was injured late in the 4th quarter, only to watch Kerry Collins win the game. To the constant booes and with his self esteem shattered following the game, sports news bulletins reported everywhere that Vince Young had gone missing. Even soo far as to allege his mental health was unstable, and that he contemplated suicide.
After 4 hours of searching, the police finally found Vince as he agreed to meet with Jeff Fisher. With is play lacking, and Collins becoming more reliable, Fisher promoted Kerry to the starting job that saw the Titans finish the 08' season to 12-4, and with have one of the leagues best ground games with Chris Johnson and Lendale White. Making the playoffs, but ultimately falling to the Baltimore Ravens.
Now into the present, Vince Young has come off the bench had resurrected the offense as he's finally begun throwing more accurate, deep balls to his squad. He's throw a touchdown in each game (except against San Francisco) and has only 1 interception since returning, also averaging 90 rushing yards a game. Remarkable. Against the Cardinals sunday, we may have seen him come into his hype, with 387 passing yards and a heroic late 4th quarter comeback. With Chris Johnson taking some pressure off, it seems like the former longhorn his generally enjoying himself this year.
Although it's still a longshot for them to make the post season, the bigger story is how their previous first round draft pick is winning them matchups. With all the spotlight shined back on him, he is stepping up to each challenge and critics that faces him. It almost seems like he's grown from adversity, and has taken the benching as a wake-up call to become what people thought he could. He has certainly has the chance to succeed under the age old formula, "when you fall, you get back up".
Vince Young fell from grace from the National Football League...but that doesn't seem to matter much. With his second chance in hand, everyone might just become a witness to a great player. Personally, I think we haven't begun to see his full talent, and with him flashing it every week, things can only look up for his revitalized career.