Philadelphia Eagles 2011: Previewing Vince Young, Upcoming Preseason Schedule
Forget about some of the notable offseason acquisitions, which included Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin, Danny Watkins, Ronnie Brown, and Ryan Harris.
The focus on the preseason is all about Vince Young.
It may sound weird to put all of the focus on the backup. Cutis Painter isn't creating much buzz in Indianapolis. Fans in New England aren't wearing Brian Hoyer jerseys and I'm pretty sure fans in San Diego aren't talking about Billy Volek.
In Philadelphia, we don't have that kind of luxury because our starting quarterback, Mike Vick, has only played one season in which he started and played all 16 games.
Peyton Manning has played in 208 consecutive games, Tom Brady did miss one year due to a knee injury but has also completed eight full seasons and Philip Rivers has not missed a start since he was named the starter in 2006.
The feeling in Philadelphia is not if Vick will get hurt, but when he will go down and for how long.
Some may call it a negative outlook, but I think it's a realistic expectation.
And that's where Young comes into play.
He needs to step in and win. The Eagles cannot afford to throw away games in Vick's absence because 10 wins is no longer a lock to get you into the playoffs as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants proved last year. And if the Eagles want to earn homefield advantage throughout the playoffs they need to strive for 13 wins.
I simply don't trust Young to help them reach either mark.
When Young arrived I had to do a double take and make sure it wasn't Steve Young riding into town because everyone told me how Vince is such a winner. He's won 30 games as a starter.
But when you uncover those numbers you see it wasn't all Young.
Out of his 30 wins, 25 came in 2006 (8), 2007 (9), and 2009 (8) when he was aided by a running game that finished in the top five each year.
In 2006 the Titans finished fifth in the league behind Travis Henry, who rushed for 1,211 yards. Tennessee finished fifth again in rushing offense as LenDale White picked up 1,110 yards on the ground. And in 2009 Tennessee finished second in the league in rushing behind Chris Johnson, who led the NFL with 2,006 yards.
I understand Young will have the best supporting cast he's ever had around him, but the help is not going to come to him in the form of a consistent running game.
Under Andy Reid the Eagles have finished in the top five in rushing in once (2010) and have only finished in the top 10 three other times (2002, 2003, 2007).
Young will get his shot with the second team in preseason games and I wouldn't be surprised if he got some action with the first team.
And when Young struggles I don't want to hear people complain about him working with the inferior unit because he is also competing against an inferior unit and making good decisions should always be the focus regardless who you compete against.
Each slide has the date, time and channel for each game, which I got from PhiladelphiaEagles.com.
Game 1: Home vs. Blatimore Ravens (Thursday, August 11, 7:30, 6ABC)
Everyone gets a pass here, including my boy Vince Young.
Get ready to hear everyone use the following words at an alarming rate: "Vanilla," "injuries," "backups."
You may actually hear someone say, "The defense and offense looked rather vanilla, but it's okay because the backups got some work and there were no injuries."
All kidding aside, the only concern is that everyone walks away healthy.
I mention Smith because so many of us wanted the Eagles to target him in the 2010 NFL Draft. I guess the Eagles knew what they were doing.
I guess it will be good to see former Eagles defensive backs coach and special teams coordinator John Harbaugh return to Philadelphia, but that kind of tells you how exciting this game is.
The Eagles' injury report on the team's website is empty.
Game 2: At Pittsburgh Steelers (Thursday, August 18, 8:00, Fox)
Let me say this: I fear James Harrison.
He anchors one of the best linebacking corps in the NFL, which also includes LaMarr Woodley, James Farrior, and Lawrence Timmons.
After watching them fly around the field making plays Eagles fans may begin to seriously doubt their own starting linebackers, which currently calls for rookie Casey Matthews to start in the middle while Jamar Chaney and Moise Fokou are on the outside.
But for all I know the linebackers could come out on fire and make everyone realize how great it is to have the best young linebackers in the league.
As for Vince Young, he needs to walk away from this game without making mistakes. The offense may sputter at times and I can understand that. But I can't give him a freebie when it comes to turning the ball over.
Last year the Steelers ranked third in the NFL with 35 takeaways, which included 21 picks and 14 fumbles.
Protect the ball Young.
Game 3: Home vs. Cleveland Browns (Thursday, August 25, 7:30, 6ABC)
The first-team offense and defense will likely play the entire first half and they get to do it against a terrible Cleveland Browns team.
Last year the Browns had the 11th worst defense allowing 350.1 yards per game and the 4th worst offense accumulating 289.7 yards per game.
I don't care if the offense and defense run a conservative game plan. They should dominate the Browns on both sides of the ball because they have better personnel across the board.
This is where Vince Young needs to show everyone he's made some progress. I'm not asking for three touchdowns and a couple hundred yards of passing. I want to see him pick up a couple first downs, get into a rhythm and make me believe he can step in and at least be functional in this offense.
It will be interesting to see him work with Riley Cooper.
Cooper, who is 6'3", is considered to be a legitimate option for the Eagles in the redzone.
Maybe I'm too cynical, but his seven career receptions and one touchdown doesn't exactly make me feel like he's going to be a factor anywhere, let alone the redzone.
But then again maybe he and Young could work well with each other and give the fans some additional hope heading into the season.
Game 4: At New York Jets (Thursday, September 1, 7:30, 6ABC)
The last preseason game usually sends every starter to the bench either early or before the game even starts.
This means Vince Young gets to show us everything he's learned. I'm honestly hoping he's learned something by this point. I want him to do well because I know how important his position can be to this team.
My biggest concern is how comfortable Young looks in the pocket when pressure comes his way. I'm OK with him tucking the ball and running. How many times did we want Donovan McNabb to do this in his final years with the Eagles? So why not be OK with it from Young?
I don't want to see him be a hero and try to force passes and risk turning the ball over. But if he does decide to throw the ball when the Jets send some heat, I want him to make a quick decision and avoid any unnecessary hits.
Because if Young goes down we will have Mike Kafka one play away from filling in for Vick.
Now how scary is that thought?