|Back to the Future|
|Written by Mark Grey|
by MARK GREY
The biggest surprise of the start of last football season is once again the biggest surprise of the start of this season. Last season, the Titans took the NFL by surprise with their 10-0 start behind journeyman quarterback Kerry Collins. If last season was a Cinderella story for Collins and the Titans, this season is clearly the part about what happens after midnight. After starting the season on a short list of legitimate Super Bowl contenders, the Titans now find themselves on a short list of teams still looking for a victory. If the Titans still consider Vince Young their quarterback of the future, it’s time to go back to the future.As bad as the Titans' season looks so far, it doesn’t look like it will be getting better anytime soon. With four losses already under their belt, the Titans will face the undefeated Colts this weekend and then travel to Foxborough the following week to take on the Patriots. The Titans, who lost three games all of last season, could easily be 0-6 heading into their week 7 bye.
In 2006, the Titans drafted Young third overall with plans of him replacing Steve McNair as the franchise quarterback. Thanks to poor play at the quarterback position, Young was thrown into the fire early, making his first NFL start in the fourth week of his rookie season. Young responded by winning 8 games, including 6 in a row with 4 fourth quarter comebacks, on his way to winning rookie of the year. His sophomore season, Young struggled like most young quarterbacks, but still led the Titans to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth. After a shaky off-season and a mental meltdown early in his third season, Young was benched in favor of the more stable Collins. The Titans, who had one of the best defenses in the NFL last season, didn’t ask Collins and the offense to do much other than not lose the game. The veteran Collins did just that to the tune of 13-3.
When the Titans made Collins the starter, they knew he was not the long term answer to their quarterback situation. Rather, they wanted to use him as a bandage until they felt it was time to hand the team back over to Young. The thinking was that the team was good enough to win now and didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity while waiting for Vince to mature. While that move might have been the right one for last year's campaign, this year is a totally different story. The Titans' defense, which was among the elite last season, is now giving up 27 points a game and Collins is throwing the ball almost 40 times a game. You show me a team with a bad defense and Kerry Collins as the quarterback and I will show you a team that will not be winning many games. It is clear that the Titans now need more than just a game manager at the quarterback position and at this point in his career, that’s all Collins is.
So where does that leave the Titans? It’s time for coach Jeff Fisher to go back to the team's future. If they still believe that Young is going to be their leader for the future, it’s time to get that future started now. Collins has already been in the NFL for over 15 seasons and the Titans know what they have in him. Vince, on the other hand, is still young with tons of talent waiting to be developed. The Titans already know that at 37, Collins is not the future, and with the season all but over, it’s time to see if Young is.
To have Young sitting on the bench collecting big checks every week while Collins goes out there and plays poorly means that the Titans are not just losing, they are now losing out in the future. If you’re going to get bad play from your quarterback, it makes much more sense to get it from your young quarterback. At least it goes towards the learning process all quarterbacks go through. At this point, Collins has learned all he is going to learn and is flat out playing bad football. In the loss this season to the Jets, Collins finished the game with 13 consecutive incomplete passes, a feat that not even Jamarcus Russell has pulled off. In just 4 games this season, he already has 6 interceptions after throwing only 7 all last season. As the Titans' playoff hopes slip further and further away with every loss, it’s time for Fisher to take the bandage that is Kerry Collins off and see what they have in Vince Young. The Titans need to use these remaining 12 games to see just how much Young has matured as a football player and if he can be trusted with the future of the team. There are two ways you never want to end a football season: with a bad record and with questions at quarterback. The Titans are already well on their way to one of those and if we don’t see Young soon, they will be on their way to both.