Looking at the wasteland that is the free agent backup quarterback market is a little scary. It’s littered with mostly unprovens, disappointments, and guys well past their prime. Among the ashes sits a man that was once thought to be a star for years to come in the NFL. No, I am not talking about Tim Tebow.
Vince Young; 2-time Pro Bowler, former offensive Rookie of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, and the owner of a 31-19 record as a starting quarterback, is sitting at home in Houston patiently waiting for his phone to ring. After a decent showing with the Green Bay Packers this preseason, he was released during final cuts, with the Pack electing to go with veteran Seneca Wallace as their number two. Young’s lack of familiarity with their West Coast system, compared to Wallace, was cited as a reason, however, Packers GM Ted Thompson shouldered some of the blame for Young’s struggles.
After watching incumbent backup Graham Harrell and project BJ Coleman struggle, Young was brought in after the start of training camp. Thompson admittedly put Young at a disadvantage by bringing him in late, and Young had to take a crash course to get up to speed. While he was a bit uneven, he showed excellent leadership, improved conditioning, and proved he could still tuck it and run when the pocket broke down.
Young made headlines this summer by working out with quarterback guru George Whitfield in preparation for his comeback, and put on a dazzling show at the University of Texas‘ Pro Day. Though his struggles with immaturity, inaccuracy, and losing confidence while with the Tennessee Titans have been well-documented, an older, more mature Young, seems to have a much more level head these days. He went out of his way to make amends with former coach Jeff Fisher, who has been accused by many of Young’s supporters (most notably ESPN‘s Skip Bayless) as having blackballed him from the league after their tumultuous relationship in Nashville.
Currently, the Raiders have no veteran quarterback to turn to. Rookie Matt McGloin is the only other quarterback on the 53-man roster, with fellow rookie Tyler Wilson currently on the practice squad. Both McGloin and Wilson, unlike Pryor, are traditional pocket passers. The offensive scheme would have to be adjusted in order for them to succeed. Young’s athleticism, however, would allow the Raiders to run the same plays they run with Pryor under center. This, along with the six-plus years of experience he brings, makes him an ideal candidate as a backup.
If you recall, Young had what was reported to be an impressive workout with the Oakland Raiders this summer. Despite his good showing, the Raiders elected to trade for Matt Flynn and named him the starter. We all know how that went. It’s possible the team elected not to bring Young in because it was a classic Al Davis move. After all, the Raiders have long been known for taking in guys with a checkered past hoping to turn them around. GM Reggie McKenzie has tried his best to rid the team of most of Davis’ questionable picks and signings, but this is a move Al would have made that I would have actually agreed with. Throughout his NFL career, Vince Young has proven that above all else, he is a winner. When the lights are on and the game is on the line, he has the confidence to put a team on his back and lead a team downfield for a game-winning drive. Though he may no longer reach the heights many thought he could have, he still has the talent and ability to get the job done. He belongs in the NFL.