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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Giving Vince Young a Fair Shake

I don't particularly like Vince Young. I haven't made this a secret. I think his mechanics are vomit-inducing, I hate his side-arm arm slot, he relies too much on his legs, and he, like his predecessor Vick, is a product of too much hype. Iggins!, however, loves the sonofabitch. We made a bet on draft day in 2006, wherein I said that Matt Leinart of all people would be a better NFL quarterback than VY. The best part of it all is that I didn't think that highly of Matt Leinart and still don't. This year will be the first time that both go into camp as the starters for their teams since 2007. Leinart by default, since Kurt Warner retired, and Young because he earned his job back after an impressive late season surge by the Titans under his direction. Since Vince played fairly well (although an 82.8 rating is hardly world beating), I've decided to give him another look. Here is the video of Vince's 99 yard game winning drive against the Cardinals last year, who were ironically being led by Leinart while Warner was out with an injury (Leinart was a respectable 21-31 for 220 yds, 0 tds, 0 ints):

I'm going to go ahead and see what Vince does well, and what he still needs to work on.

At 0:24...his first pass is a good one. He shows really good pocket presence here. Many quarterbacks have a tendency to panic when backed up in their own end zone (see Orlovsky, Dan), and mobile quarterbacks especially tend to feel the need to try and gain some breathing room with their feet. Vince does a good job of shuffling, resetting his feet, and getting the ball to his receiver and giving him a chance to get out of bounds. Golf clap.

At 0:41...his dropback and his footwork are good, but he leads the receiver too much. I still think that damn side arm release of his tends to pull his ball slightly to the right. But I'm nitpicking.

At 0:49...that pass just went too far low and away. My guess there is he needs to get the ball out sooner. Britt initially had a step on his DB. As Bill Walsh would say, when throwing a slant, "throw [the] ball to middle of receiver and above his waist - if anything slow him up to catch it." Sometimes you can get that ball out far enough to lead the receiver and let him run after the catch, but the most important thing, especially in this situation, is to complete the pass.

At 1:13... the 4th down play is a nice read of the coverage. The DB is clearly playing the receiver, so VY did a good job of simply putting it in a spot where Britt could make a play, although he's showing a lot of faith in Britt, because that's not an easy catch at all.

At 1:29...this is just pure luck. The batted pass is the exact reason why I hate that arm slot of his. A guy that's 6'5'' like Vince shouldn't have any trouble clearing the line of scrimmage. By dropping his arm down like he does he negates a few of those inches. The read was okay, as Scaife was open on the crossing route, but he also had Chris Johnson wide open with room to run. I think I'd have liked to see what CJ could do with his speed after you got him the ball in space like that. I'd be willing to bet he'd gain more than Scaife did.

At 1:54...meh.

At 1:57...good read, good ball, good run after the catch. Nice play.

At 2:10...his footwork here is good. I can't see whether any of his other receivers were open, so I don't know if he made a good read or not, but he did a nice job of putting the ball where his receiver was going to get it or no one was.

At 2:18...nice run. He kept his eyes downfield, too, and the decision to run was obviously his last recourse. Nice job to pump fake and freeze the defender long enough to get out of bounds and stop the clock.

At 2:34...good job getting rid of the ball.

At 2:44....this may be his best pass of the drive. Great read..ball comes out quickly and smoothly and the receiver has plenty of time and room to get to the sideline.

At 3:04...another good, quick release. Surprising that the Cardinals didn't try harder to deny the sidelines.

At 3:12...the ball needed to be out sooner. Washington was open, if he brings that ball down a bit and zips it without getting so much air under it..that ball could get there before the safety comes over the top.

At 3:30...another good pass on the crossing route. He's really improved on throwing the ball over the middle of the field.

At 3:50...that was just a bad pass that could have been intercepted if the safety was quicker. His receiver in the right corner of the end zone had a step on his man. If Vince throws that ball towards the right sideline the game could be over right there.

At 4:11...bad decision to run. The pocket wasn't collapsing and the hole wasn't big enough. With just 12 seconds on the game clock you need to throw that ball out of bounds and conserve as much time as possible.

At 4:34...he rushed this throw. I'm not sure why. He set himself up in the pocket well, he had time, and he just rushed it. That ball could have easily been intercepted. Again, I'm not even sure it was the right read. The guy in the right corner of the end zone seems to have a step again. He's not going through his progressions here. He's trying to force it to the middle of the field. Again, I suspect that it's because his accuracy to the right sideline isn't all that great.

At 5:15....the game winner is just an outstanding play by a player who has definitely matured. He had room to run. Not enough to get the touchdown, probably, but enough that two years ago he'd have probably tried and lost the game. He fakes the defense just enough, though, that he can pull up at the line of scrimmage and make a great throw to Britt. It wasn't the easiest ball for Britt to catch, but all you can ask of your quarterback in that situation is to just give his receiver a chance, and that's what Vince did.

Looking over this, and I realize it's an extremely small sample of the 10 starts he made last year...I can really see some actual improvement. His pocket presence is drasticall improved from years past. His footwork is probably the area where he's advanced the most. His decision-making has gotten much better, and he seems to have reached that zone that a guy like Michael Vick never did, where the run is always the last option. He made one hasty, ill-advised run, but that's it. All in all, he's becoming a quarterback.

However, I still see some things here that could be exploited. His arm release will still get him into trouble. If team's really clog his passing lanes he could see a drastic increase in tipped balls, something that's not supposed to happen to a guy his size. I'm also not convinced that he can really make a quick, hard, accurate throw to the right sideline with consistency. There are definitely weaknesses in his game, but nowhere near as many as there were before his benching.

My final verdict? He's going to be better. He may actually be a legitimate starter this year. Granted, I certainly hope not, as I'd like to win my bet, but since that's looking like a longshot anyway, I applaud Vince for actually taking his time on the bench to improve his game.

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