QB Young's knee, accuracy hurting
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – If Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young hadn’t limped off the LP Field in the fourth quarter, he might have been booed off.
Young’s season opener came to a premature end Sunday when he hobbled off the field with a left knee injury against Jacksonville. Young left the field on his own power, but needed assistance to get home after the game because of a large brace that was put on the knee.
Young was in the training room long after his teammates had left the locker room following the Titans' 17-10 victory. The Titans' training staff put a brace on the knee and Young could not put any weight on it at all.
He was then taken from the training room to his car by golf cart, hopped on his right leg to get into the passenger side of his truck and had a friend drive him home.
The Titans reported only that Young, who didn’t speak with media after the game, had a sprained knee and coach Jeff Fisher said “we’ll just do tests and we’ll see.”
Officially, Young’s day ended with 4:14 remaining in the game, but he struggled from the start as his passing – again – came into question. Young completed 12 of 22 passes for 110 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
And those numbers don’t portray how bad Young played. Young was booed lustily by the home crowd at least twice, including the Titans' last drive of the game with 5:57 remaining.
Tennessee tight end Bo Scaife, who had 105 receiving yards, his first 100-yard game of his career, brushed off criticism of his quarterback.
"I don't worry about Vince," said Scaife, a college teammate of Young's. "I've known him long enough that he's a competitor and a winner. He's still growing as a quarterback. Everyone in this locker room believes in him and that's all he needs."
Here's something to worry about: Young's two interceptions were the kind of throws you’d expect from a young backup – not a third-year starter and former No. 3 overall pick. On the first one, Young didn't see Jacksonville safety Gerald Sensabaugh on a third-and-15 pass over the middle as Sensabaugh sat in zone coverage. The coverage was about as mundane as it gets in the NFL, particularly given the down-and-distance.
Young’s second interception was on short pass to the right where he tried to flip it over Jacksonville rookie defensive end Derrick Harvey. Young didn’t come close on the play as Harvey snared it without trouble.
But the bigger issue might have been the three open passes Young failed to hit that could have put the game out of reach. Late in the first half, Young had wide receiver Justin Gage open deep in one-on-one coverage, but badly overthrew Gage. Early in the second half, Young again had wide receiver Justin McCareins open deep, but this time under threw the ball into traffic.
Finally, on a third-and-3 play in the middle of the third quarter, Young missed running back Chris Johnson on what would have been a big gain.
Whatever the source of Young's problem – be it his odd sidearm throwing motion or his general inexperience in the pro passing game – he simply isn’t hitting throws that a top quarterback needs to hit, dating back to the preseason, when the Titans' first-unit offense scored only one touchdown in 29 possessions.
"We've heard all the stuff they have been saying about the first-team offense," Scaife said. "We try to put that behind us. The only thing we can control is when we are out there on the field. We came together and we played as a team today."
A team that once again struggled with its prized first-round quarterback behind center.