Archive | November, 2010

Man Up: Time for Vince Young to Grow Up and Put Away Childish Things

24 Nov

Vince Young is out for the season and needs to do some soul-searching.

By Chris Murray

The latest incident in the saga of Vince Young and the Tennessee Titans has had me scratching my head the last couple of days.

As you may know, the 27-year-old former Texas Longhorn got into an argument with Titans head coach Jeff Fisher. After the argument, Young, who is out for the season with a thumb injury, quickly left the arena and reportedly told Fisher, “I’m not running out on my teammates, I’m running out on you.”

In an interview with ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Young admitted that he threw his shoulder pads into the stands in frustration while giving his jersey to the daughter of a team executive.

Viewing this situation, I can see fault in the positions of both Fisher and Young because I think both of them have helped this situation become a hot mess.

Meanwhile, Titans owner Bud Adams has told both of them to figure out a way to work things out.

Good luck with that.

Despite the fact that Young is 30-17 as a starting quarterback, Fisher has never had confidence in him. According to various reports, Fisher didn’t really want to draft Young; his preference was his Rose Bowl opponent, USC quarterback Matt Leinert. According to ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer, Fisher and the coaching staff have had to “dummy” down the offense to fit what Young can do.

Really?

When the Titans struggled to an 0-6 start last season with Kerry Collins, it took the urging of team owner Bud Adams for Fisher to put Young back in the starting lineup. With Young under center, the Titans went 8-2 down the stretch and probably saved Fisher’s job.

In a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Young threw a couple of interceptions early and got pulled from the game. When the Titans lost to the Miami Dolphins, Young was apparently frustrated that Fisher didn’t start him and when he got hurt in Sunday’s loss to Washington, he was upset that his head coach didn’t stick with him.

What’s odd about all this is that Young has actually improved as a quarterback with 10 touchdown passes, three interceptions and a quarterback rating of 98. At one point this season, he was the league’s top rated passer.

But while I can understand Young’s frustration with having a coach that doesn’t trust him to do his job, running out on his team is definitely not the answer. In fact, it’s the ultimate act of immaturity and gives Fisher all the ammunition he needs to keep him on the Titans’ bench.

Throughout his time in the pros, Young has done things that make you think that he should have a pacifier instead of a mouthpiece in his helmet. From refusing to go into a game after fans booed him to getting into an altercation with a fan who made fun of the University of Texas with a reverse Hook ’em Horns sign, he’s done the kinds of things that could make you question his ability to lead. If Young wants to prove that he belongs in the NFL, he needs to grow up, toughen up, and stop pulling punk moves like these.

As the quarterback of an NFL team, Young has to be bigger than what he’s exhibited; even in a situation where your coach wouldn’t miss you and doesn’t care if you know it. It’s like a line from an old Rudyard Kipling poem, “If you can keep your head while all about you are losing theirs and blaming you.”

Perhaps Young should make a phone call to the opposing quarterback in last Sunday’s game—Donovan McNabb, a guy who has had more than his share of slings and arrows flung at him over the years. He can tell VY a thing or two about how to handle to adversity like a professional. Young could also give a shout out to Eagles quarterback Michael Vick as well.

When McNabb was wrongfully benched in the last two minutes of a Redskins loss to the Detroit, he didn’t bail out on his team or even criticize his coach, although in that situation he may have had every right to. But McNabb conducted himself as a professional and worked through it. Even when fans and the Philadelphia media branded him as thin skinned when Eagles fans (and talk radio pontificators) became too hard to ignore, McNabb remained focused as a player.

Ironically, it was Young who criticized McNabb back in 2007 for pointing out that Black quarterbacks get more criticism than their white counterparts.

“I really feel like myself, black or white quarterbacks, we all go through something because that is the life of a quarterback.” Young said in an ESPN.com article back in 2007. “You have to be able to handle all the pressure and you have to be able to handle the losses and you have to be able to handle the media saying this about you … If you can’t handle it, then you have to get off that position and go play something else.”

(Hey Physician, how’s that self-healing going?)

In Jason Campbell’s tenure with the Redskins he endured poor coaching and more than a few offensive coordinators. With his new team, the Oakland Raiders, he was benched in week two. Yet, Campbell has managed to maintain his professionalism and his work ethic while winning back his starting job.

It may be too late to convince Fisher and the Titans coaching staff that you’re their guy. If the trust that a quarterback and a coach need for things to work isn’t there and isn’t possible between Fisher and Young, it might be in Adams’ best interest to trade his former first-round pick to another team. A change of scenery and a new coach may be all that’s needed to help Young refine his skills and let him become the quarterback he’s capable of becoming.

But while Black quarterbacks are still more highly scrutinized and have less of a margin for error than their white counterparts (paging Brett Favre), Young doesn’t help himself by conducting himself in a way that doesn’t recognize this reality. Whether you’re the CEO of American Express or the President of the United States, if you’re Black and in a position of authority like, say, an NFL quarterback, you don’t have the luxury of crying about it. You have to keep your head up and keep keeping on.

Hopefully the next group of Black quarterbacks like Auburn’s Cam Newton and Ohio State’s Terrell Pryor will see how Young has conducted himself during this latest incident——and do the exact opposite.

As the McNabb Turns

9 Nov

By Chris Murray

For the Sunday Sun and the Chris Murray Report

 

It’s eight weeks into the NFL season and former Eagles and current Washington Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb is once again dominating the headlines in the Philly sports market.

 

(Cue the soap opera music, please)

 

In the latest episode of that long-running Sunday series, “As the McNabb Turns,” Redskins’ head coach Mike Shanahan benched the former Birds quarterback for Rex Grossman in the last minute of last week’s  37-25 loss to the Detroit Lions.

 

And true to Grossman form, he fumbled the ball and it was picked up Ndamukong Suh for a score and well, you know the rest of the story.

 

The news of McNabb’s benching was discussed on all the local talk shows in Philadelphia. His detractors came out of the wood work from South Philly to South Jersey and all points around the city to delight in McNabb’s apparent misery.

 

For those who despised McNabb during his tenure in Philly, it was a bizarre kind of sweet vindication, if you want to call it that. It was “I-told-you-McNabb was soft.” One of my homies who lives in North Philly is chomping at the bit to tell me how he told me so about McNabb’s supposed lack of manhood. I know he has been waiting all week to tell me a thing or two.

 

One of the biggest knocks against McNabb was that he could not run the two-minute drill and doesn’t come through in the clutch (apparently no one remembers 4th and 26th against Green Bay in the 2003 playoffs ). In the minds of McNabb naysayers, this is the guy who reportedly threw up at the Super Bowl and moved the Eagles’ hurry up offense at horse and buggy pace late in that game.

 

And then you have the comments of former Birds receiver and McNabb nemesis Terrell Owens on the T.Ocho Cinco Show. Without coming out and saying it, he suggested that he knew a thing or two about McNabb’s apparent fatigue at the end of Super Bowl XXXIX.

 

“Well, I don’t really want to start anything, but I did play in the Super Bowl and there were rumors where he couldn’t get our two-minute offense going at the end of the game,” said Owens, who actually did say McNabb was tired during his post Super Bowl press conference. “I’m just saying.”

 

Even former Eagle wide receiver Freddie Mitchell weighed in, telling myfoxPhilly.com that he respected Shanahan for pulling McNabb. He also believes McNabb had him blackballed from the league.

 

McNabb’s performance so far in Washington hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. He is the 25th rated passer in the NFL. He has completed less than 60 percent of his passes and has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns. In his defense, he has been battling through some leg injuries. Against the Lions, McNabb was 17-of-30 for 210 yard with one touchdown and one interception.

 

All that said, you don’t bench your starting quarterback with a minute to go, especially not with Grossman. Really? C’mon, man. Shanahan really knows how to inspire a confidence in his team by putting in a loser like Grossman.

 

Just as strange as McNabb’s benching was the different answers that Shanahan gave for his reasons for sitting McNabb while the team still had a chance to win. It reminded me of the police interrogation scene in the movie, “Menace II Society.” In that scene, Bill Duke plays a steely, no-nonsense detective who is questioning young Caine Lawson (played by Tyrin Turner) who keeps changing his story about his involvement in the murder of a convenience store owner.

 

Duke’s response for every different story the young man came up with: “You know, you (expletive) up, don’t you?”

 

I kept thinking what it would be like if Bill Duke in his role as the detective in Menace II Society was at all the press conferences in which Shanahan came up with different reasons for benching McNabb.

 

Shanahan postgame press conference on Oct. 31: “I felt that with the time and no timeouts, Rex gave us the best chance to win in that scenario. Just knowing the terminology and what we’ve done, how we’ve run it, puts a lot of pressure on the quarterback that hasn’t been used to that terminology. . .(McNabb) understands that it’s got to be automatic and you’re calling two plays at a time and all of a sudden you’re speeding things up. He understood why I did it, I believe he did. I don’t think any quarterback likes it, but you got to make those tough decisions.”

 

Bill Duke: You pulled your starting quarterback because he didn’t know the terminology?

 

Shanahan, Monday, Nov. 1: “Donovan has been hampered with hamstring injuries, quad injuries, some contusions down there. … When you’re dealing with a two-minute offense and you don’t have any timeouts and you haven’t done it in five weeks and you’re calling sometimes two plays, you’ve got to hustle to the line of scrimmage and you’re calling plays that you haven’t called in a two-minute drill and you’re working cardiovascular endurance at the same time working on the clock, it’s really hard to do that when you haven’t practiced it …I thought it would be in the best interest to go in a different direction and that was the reason why did it.”

 

You know you messed up, don’t you? (McNabb ran the ball four times for 45 yards…not fast enough to get to the line in a two-minute drill. Seriously?)

 

All of that tells me that McNabb has moved from one bizarre situation to another. Not only was it absolutely absurd and a dumb move for Shanahan to replace McNabb late in the game for a quarterback in Grossman who gives you no chance to win, but coming up with several excuses makes him look like an even bigger fool. I was almost expecting Shanahan to say, “my dog ate McNabb’s playbook.”

 

Actually, Shanahan topped that tomfoolery by bringing in No. 1 Draft bust JaMarcus Russell, a man who was not necessarily known for being a student of the game for a workout with the team.  Kyle Shanahan, Mike’s son and offensive coordinator, supposedly told McNabb he might be pulled, something McNabb denies. The former Syracuse star, to his credit, refused to criticize Shanahan for pulling him.

 

For McNabb, all of this drama is nothing more than a surreal re-run of his time in Philly from Rush Limbaugh to T.O. and being benched in Baltimore in 2008. The one thing I give McNabb is that he has a tendency to shut up his critics on the field.

 

One game after being benched  in Baltimore, McNabb led the Eagles to a win over the Cardinals and a playoff run that led the Birds to the NFC title game. The next game on the Skins schedule: The Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football.

 

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of “As the McNabb Turns.”