Vince Young Still Knows How to Win in the Clutch

Vince Young led the Eagles on a clutch drive in win over the New York Giants. Photo by USA Today

 

By Chris Murray

For the Sunday Sun and the Chris Murray Report

Coming into last Sunday’s win over the New York Giants, the only images that Eagles fans had of backup quarterback Vince Young were the interception he threw against the Washington Redskins in a brief relief stint for Michael Vick and not knowing where to lineup in another brief outing against the Arizona Cardinals.

Then there was the chorus of fans on the sports-talk radio circuit who thought Young’s appearance in Sunday’s game against the Giants would be the final death knell for a season inches from the grave.

But now they have the image of Young leading the Eagles on an 18-play, eight-minute, 51-second game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s victory. While he struggled at times with three interceptions, Young’s finest hour of the game came on that drive. He converted six third downs including the game-winning eight-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Riley Cooper.

It was a heck of an effort for a guy who hasn’t started a game in over a year and a measure of redemption for a man trying to right the ship in a career marred by his tumultuous time in Tennessee.

“He had a couple of turnovers there, but he came right back and he didn’t flinch,” said Eagles head coach Andy Reid. “That’s the seasoned veteran that he is.”

In what was his last game with the Titans, Young got into an argument with then Tennessee head coach Jeff Fisher and then walked out immediately after the game and before the postgame meeting. He reportedly told Fisher, “I’m not running out on my teammates, I’m running out on you.” He also angrily tossed his jersey and shoulder pads into stands.

As petulant and immature an act as that was, it was a reflection of the fact that Fisher never wanted to draft Young as his starting quarterback and never really had his back during his time in Tennessee according to various media reports and those close to that situation.

Young has been defined by his on and off the field issues from refusing to go into a game after being booed to reports of him being suicidal along with an altercation with a fan outside a strip club.

But for all of Young’s dysfunction and for all of those who say he has been a bust as a pro quarterback, he has been a winner even when his immaturity has gotten in the way.

After all, Young has a 31-17 record as a starting quarterback and a guy who led 13 game-winning fourth-quarter drives and has seven come-from-behind wins. As a rookie, he was the AFC Offensive Rookie of the Year and he has made two trips to the Pro Bowl.

Most of those wins came during his time in Tennessee when he didn’t have the best receivers in the world and while playing for a coach who didn’t consider him the apple of his eye.

So far, during his brief time in Philadelphia, Young has managed to impress his coaches with his work ethic and maturity.

“He came in without any type of offseason at all and with a little bit shorter camp,” said offensive coordinator Marty Morhinweg prior to Sunday’s game. “He has been working hard both on and off the field and in the classroom. (Quarterbacks coach) Doug Pederson has been doing a great job and has great confidence in Vince. I think he’ll play well.”

With the result of Sunday’s game, Morhinweg turned out to be right.

I’ve always believed that the success of an athlete depends on whether or not they’re in a situation where they can develop and grow. The history of sports is littered with stories of athletes moving from a situation where their talents weren’t utilized to a place where they blossomed into superstars.

For example, the first three years of his career with the Buffalo Bills, O.J. Simpson was considered another “Heisman bust”, but then head coach Lou Saban came in and decided that the offense would revolve around Simpson’s rushing ability.

From 1972 to 1976, Simpson became one of the NFL’s most dominant running backs. In 1973, he became the first back to rush for over 2,000 yards.

In baseball, Lou Brock was considered a bust during time with the Chicago Cubs. When he got traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964, he became the catalyst of St. Louis’s run to a World Series title that year, was one of the greatest base stealers ever, and is now a Hall-of-Famer.

While Young, barring a career-ending injury to Vick, will probably never get to start for the Eagles on a permanent basis, studying under head coach Andy Reid and his offensive coaching staff as a backup might have been the best thing that ever happened to him in his football career.

But ultimately it’s up Young to maintain that work ethic, stay grounded and keep his head when things get bad no matter where he is next year. He has to be more consistent and efficient as a quarterback.

Hopefully, Young will find the right situation that will help him become an even better quarterback. The guy has been a proven winner in the clutch even in the midst of his troubles in Tennessee. If Young can find a situation in which he can flourish, the sky can be the limit for him.

Another Meadowlands Miracle: The Eagles Defense Closes the Show in Win over the New York Giants

By Chris Murray

For the Sunday Sun and the Chris Murray Report

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J–After taking much of the blame for blown fourth quarter leads this season, the Eagles defense finally closed the deal on a team that was looking overtake them late.

Thanks to a sack of Eli Manning and a forced fumble by Jason Babin with one-minute, 17 seconds left in the game, the Eagles ( came away with another Meadowlands Miracle with a 17-10 victory in front of a sell-out crowd at MetLife Stadium while keeping their faint playoff hopes alive for one more week. .

On the third play of the Giants final drive of the game, Manning hit wide receiver Victor Cruz for a big 47-yard gain that brought the Giants from their own 32-yard line to the Eagles 21 and in close range for what could have been the game-tying touchdown. But Babin’s forced fumble and sack of Manning on the next play closed the door on the Giants for good. The ball was recovered by Derek Landri at the Eagles 31.

“We really needed that,” Babin said. “We were a little down from the Bears game and the last game (against Arizona) and we really needed come out on Sunday night and show them what we’re all about. We don’t like it when you guys write that stuff and we don’t like to lose in the fourth quarter. The fact of the matter is that we need this to go forward because no one likes to lose and continue to lose and so when you win it gives us an emotional high that we can carry into next week.”

The Eagles carried a 10-3 lead into fourth quarter, but the Giants evened the game with 11:44 remaining on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Victor Cruz, who burned Eagles corner Nnamdi Asomugha the way he did the first time the two teams met back in September.

The Eagles took a 17-10 lead with 2:45 left in the game on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Vince Young to wide receiver Riley Cooper on a slant rout in the back of the end zone. The touchdown capped an 18-play, 8:51 drive.

“We have to put the ball in the end zone and take it play-by-play,” Cooper said. “We were playing small ball, we were running the ball, we were throwing the ball. We didn’t have one bomb or one big play, it was a great drive and it was a long drive.”

After struggling through three interceptions, Young, who hasn’t started an NFL game since last season, methodically drove the Birds down field 80 yard for the go ahead score. He converted six straight third down situations.

For Young, who was playing for the injured Michael Vick, it was the 13th game-winning drive of his career and as erratic as he was in the early-going, he found a way for the Eagles to win, something he has done throughout his collegiate and professional career. He is now 31-17 as a starting quarterback.

“As a quarterback, these types of things are going to happen,” Young said of his shaky start. “But I’ve been preaching and all week saying to our guys we have four quarters. And if I’m going to be preaching and said if I have a mistake, just get ready for the next series and that’s what I did.”

Eagles head coach Andy Reid said Young, who completed 23-of-36 passes for 258 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions,  just needed to get into a rhythm after not starting since last season.

“I thought his timing got better as it went on,” Reid said. “I just thought he kept firing, which is what you have to do. He had a couple of turnovers and he came right back. He didn’t flinch like the seasoned veteran that he is.”

After a scoreless first quarter, the Eagles got on the board with a 32-yard field goal by Alex Henery that capped a nine-play, 56-yard drive. The Eagles scored the only touchdown of the half on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Young to former Giants wide receiver Steve Smith to give the Eagles a 10-0 lead.

The touchdown was set up by a 51-yard punt return by DeSean Jackson, who took the ball from the Eagles 35 to the Giants 14-yard line.

“We were feeling red hot right there, DeSean made a big play,” Smith said. “It feels like a cherry on the top of the wind. Me being able to make a big play to help my team.”

The Giants got a 48-yard field goal from Lawerence Tynes to make the score 10-3 at the half.