Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

06 Feb 2007

Thoughts on Vince Young's Future

The folks at Burnt Orange Nation asked me to explain my thoughts about Vince Young, why I think he'll be an elite NFL quarterback five years from now and why I don't think he's like Michael Vick. A brief Q&A ensued.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 06 Feb 2007

33 comments, Last at 08 Feb 2007, 5:14am by Peter Libero


by J (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 9:19pm


The only part I'd beg to differ on is that I think that Young is a better runner than Vick. Vick mainly just burns you with speed, but he also gets nailed in the open field cuz he can't avoid guys all that well. Young doesn't have the ridiculous speed, but he can break a few ankles and he seems to never take a hard hit.

by Trieu (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 10:02pm

... he seems to never take a hard hit.

I've noticed this ever since the USC-Texas championship game. It never looks like he's moving that fast or that evasively, and yet no tacklers can ever line him up, and when you look up, he's 5 or 10 yards further downfield than you'd have guessed. It's almost spooky.

by underthebus (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 10:03pm

MDS didn't say who VY compares to. I don't quite understand why all the Vick comparisons though. I don't think he is a totally unique player though. VY seems like he's more comparable to someone like Steve McNair, McNabb or Daunte Culpepper.

by Peter Libero (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 10:04pm

1: Young never takes a hard hit because he's enormous and runs out of bounds. Vick is far faster and more elusive, but he gets too wrapped up in that and tries to turn every run into an 80 yard TD. That's why he takes those hits, not because he can't break a few ankles.

by Subrata Sircar (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 10:25pm

… he seems to never take a hard hit.

It really is spooky. It almost looks like everyone else starts moving slower, not that he's going faster. I wonder if he has that feeling that other great atheletes have spoken of, where he seems to be able to play in slow motion inside his head, while the game goes at full speed around him.

by J (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 10:35pm

… he seems to never take a hard hit.

and I've learned how to never split an infinitive...

by tim (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 11:39pm

from my own opinion, i think Young looks slower because of his gigantic stride, and with the angle he takes while running it makes the TV perspective appear as if guys are near him when in fact they're 5 or 6 yards away. Really rooting for the guy, hope he does well.

by Kami (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 11:51pm

re: 6
There's no reason not to often split infinitives. We're not speaking Latin here.

-Linguistics academic

by mb (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 12:41am

MDS isn't saying Vick's a better runner, just that VY needs to learn when to pick his spots because he can't just roam free at will like he did in college (at least most of the time). While several rational explanations have been offered re: Young's elusivenss, I too find to be a little otherworldly. I was really surprised by how well he was able to manufacture significant rushing yards out of nothing against NFL defenses.

As great as he was running I thought VY's improvement as a passer was a much bigger surprise. Norm Chow is a freaking genius and I'm astounded that he hasn't been offered a HC job yet.

by Sunil (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 1:16am

For blazing speed and sheer commitment, I think back to Young chasing down Rashean Mathis in week 9 when TEN visited JAX.

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 2:21am

Matt Jones ran like that as well when he was at Arkansas. Looked like he was barely trying, but he was blowing past a defense. Too bad he could not throw as well as Vince Young....

by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 2:26am

8: hear hear.

That said, I imagine defences are going to adjust now that they have half a year of game film on the guy. I imagine he'll be effective, but not top of the game effective for a few more years (which, interestingly, is probably when TEN will be in good position again....).

by Peter Libero (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 3:43am

8/12: I guess you guys missed the joke in J's sentence?

by BillWallace (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 4:20am

2/5 I totally agree, and I think spooky is the right word. It looks like a guy has him lined up, he barely seems to make much of a move, and the guy never lays a hand on him... it's unreal. He was doing it in college and he still is.

He must just have some perfect half step juke/fake that's almost imperceptible on TV.

by jds (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 10:13am

2/5/14: Are you saying he has deceptive speed?

by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 11:21am

The thing with taller people is that they have longer strides. Shorter guys will almost always be more agile.

Think Randy Moss and Santana Moss. Randy is taller and probably runs a faster 40. Santana is more elusive and agile and would be a better return man.

On that note, I thought I heard that 6'5 Vince Young runs a faster 40 than Reggie Bush. Now Bush is obviously more elusive ( and shorter), but it wouldn't shock me that running 40 yards in a straight line race that Vince would win.

One thing that gets lost about Young is that a lot of his success came against an injured Giants defense, a bad Houston defense, a bad Colts defense, a bad Redskins defense etc. He looked like a little boy against New England, Baltimore, Jax, Philly. In fact, Vince gets credit for the Jaguars win but his defense scored 3 times off David Garrard.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 11:24am

15: Curses! You beat me to it.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 11:31am

16: Yes, those were bad defenses, but they were still NFL defenses. If nothing else, that will help his confidence going into next season, and with the increased playing time and development, he can be something special.

That said, I still think that Jones-Drew should have been OROY.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 11:33am

According to an announcer, he has "surprising speed." Definitely a fan favorite, too, though he hasn't shown many skills as a possession receiver.

In my own desultory way, I've been breaking down every Titans offensive play for the last couple games, starting with that 4th quarter game against the Giants. See link and scroll down a little to get to Week 16 against BUF.

by MRH (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 12:01pm

VY passing: 27th DPAR, 27th DVOA
VY rushing: 4th DPAR, 10th DVOA

His 0.1% DVOA for rushing clearly supports the notion that he needs to temper his running and learn use it to help his team more. His ranking 4th in DPAR is impressive considerign he didn't play a few games - but McNabbwas 2nd in fewer games and about 1/3 the attempts.

His defense-adjusted passing stats don't show well at all. But he's a rookie and I don't hold that against him.

If he keeps his head straight and works hard, he could fulfill MDS' prediction. But he could remain a highlight reel wonder if he doesn't. I remain somewhat skeptical but hope it's the former.

by joel in providence (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 12:25pm

i'm firmly convinced that VY will be a huge, huge football player for the next 10 years, and not just a highlight reel freak. i'm only going on faith here, but i think he's going to be a lot more like a mcnabb or even steve young... strong-armed qbs with great pocket poise who pick their spots to run and follow blockers extremely well.

by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 12:47pm


Tom, that's a nice blog you have there.

by Mr. Beefy (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 12:50pm

Do you think Vince Young enter the Michael Vick/Bo Jackson pantheon on video games next year?

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 1:02pm

VY's bad rush DPAR was largely a product of two things. First, as MDS noted, he fumbled an awful lot. He was awful loose when running with the football early in the year and got a little better, but still needs to do more. Second, they were calling more designed runs for VY earlier in the year. Aside from Vick, you don't see those for any other QB, really, and they tended to be less productive than the opportunistic scrambling. VY's rush DPAR and DVOA were really bad up until about Week 9, then showed a marked improvement until 4 fumbles in the last 3 weeks, 2 in W17 v. NE, dragged it down again.

by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 1:41pm


I'd beg to differ. He played "ok" against those bad "NFL" defenses, and he played poorly against the real NFL defenses.

I just thought I'd raise the point that his games were against the Houstons, Washingtons, Colts, and injured Giants..

Will he be more "confident" next year... who knows? It sounds nice, but we don't really know what is going to happen to Young. I've seen players REGRESS before. The point is that he will have to improve his passing skills. You can't get by on rushing ability alone.

by Sociojoe (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 3:00pm

VY is a supersize Drew Brees.

Both played shotgun too much in college and ran into problems adapting. In VY's case though, he can always run when he gets into trouble. He also seems to have a much more understanding Off. Cord.

by PackMan (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 3:47pm

Randall Cunningham?

by mb (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 4:17pm

Chris: What do you expect? He was a rookie. Of course he had a tough time against teams like the Ravens and the Patriots. QBs who've been in the NFL for 10 years have struggled against those defenses, up to and including Peyton Manning's subpar performance against Baltimore in the playoffs. I think you're judging him a little harshly; name me a rookie QB who did play consistently well his entire rookie season.

Of course he has to improve his passing skills and get better under center to reduce his reliance on the shotgun. I think he's going to benefit greatly from having Norm Chow as his OC for another year. Sure, he could regress, but he could also improve. Why dwell on the negatives?

Listen, nobody thought VY was ready for the NFL. He wouldn't even have been starting if Kerry Collins hadn't been so terrible. I think the praise of VY has been so effusive because the expectations were low and he wildly exceeded them. It's not a guarantee of anything in the future but he had a great season.

by Craigers (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 6:10pm

MDS didn’t say who VY compares to.

Steve Young, perhaps?

by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 6:11pm

A great season based on what... expectations?

When his team beats Jacksonville because David Retgarrard has 3 turnovers for scores, why does Young still get all the praise? I'm just saying I saw a lot of hype for the guy.

I'd rather compare him to a faster Big Ben than Mike Pick6.

by Craigers (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 6:13pm

By the way, I think that some of the statements above are suggesting that Vince Young has "deceptive speed", which as we all know from our many discussions of DS here, would be logically impossible.

by mb (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 7:51pm

Chris: Did I claim that VY deserved credit for David Garrard handing the Titans a win? No, I did not. You're also correct that he was overhyped, but at the beginning the of the year many (Merill Hoge being the most prevalent example) were claiming he was going to be a massive bust and excoriating the Titans for drafting him and ignoring Leinart (who I'm aware had a significantly better DVOA/DPAR; however, remember that Leinart is more polished and has more experience). So yes, based on those expectations I would say he had a great season. Especially considering that the Titans had a serious lack of talent surrounding him. It takes several years to judge players so the jury's still out; all I'm saying is that he played a lot better than most people thought he would.

by Peter Libero (not verified) :: Thu, 02/08/2007 - 5:14am

16: I know what you're trying to say, and I agree, Vince's giant strides make him seem like he's going slower... but Bush would torch him in a 40. Reggie ran a 4.33 electronically timed at the USC pro day, Vince Young ran a 4.58. Vick supposedly ran a 4.25, but at VT it seems like the speeds are always a little crazy. Anyway, Young is way slower than both players.