July 29, 2011
Apparently, the Philadelphia Eagles have decided to corner the market on scrambling quarterbacks with "interesting" pasts. After hitting the jackpot with the reinstated Michael Vick(notes) last season, the Eagles have gone against the grain again by signing former Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young(notes) to a one-year deal. The signing was first reported by Albert Breer of the NFL Network.
Selected third overall by the Tennessee Titans in the 2006 NFL draft, Young started out very strong, winning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in an offense that fit his somewhat limited schematic palette. And in 2009, he had a Pro Bowl season (at least, in the mind of the Pro Bowl voters) as Chris Johnson rushed for over 2,000 yards.
That's the upside. The downside came last year, when Young fell apart — figuratively and literally — in November. On the same day he suffered a thumb injury that put him on the injured reserve list for the rest of the season, he tossed his shoulder pads into the stands in front of the hometown fans, told off head coach Jeff Fisher, and stormed out of the locker room after the game, a 19-16 overtime loss to the Washington Redskins.
"He threw half his uniform in the stands," Fisher said after the game. "I think clearly that is no way to respond, and so we have some things that we have to sort out with him. I am very disappointed. I think his teammates are disappointed … There is going to be frustration in losses. There is going to be times when you have to dig deep and fight and turn to one another. I don't think you run, and so I am disappointed."
That series of incidents led to a standoff between Fisher and team owner Bud Adams regarding Young's future, and Fisher left the team after the season was over. He had been the longest-tenured coach in the NFL.
Eagles coach Andy Reid has suffered through some malcontents of his own — the disastrous experiment with Terrell Owens(notes) being the most well-known — but the success of the team's faith in Vick after his prison stint gives them a bit more confidence in the process. The question is, as we discussed earlier Thursday, whether Young is ready to grow up and realize the responsibilities inherent in the quarterback position.
Young has always been a quarterback with very specific, but limited, skills. He's excellent out of the pocket (according to Football Outsiders, his opponent-adjusted efficiency has always been better when he's rolling right), and Reid's aerial West Coast offense obviously favors mobile signal-callers. However, the complexity of the system was something that Vick really had to sit for a year to learn. So, if the Eagles need to use Young for any reason this season (and an injury to Vick would seem to be the only way that would happen), Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will have to rip out huge chunks of the playbook just to get by.
The Eagles have given Vince Young a second chance with a team built to his strengths. Now, we'll find out if Young understands the value of that gift, and figures out what to do with it.
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