About this time last year, I thought it was quite possible that Vince Young’s days in Tennessee were numbered. Despite having a winning record as a starter his first two seasons, his passing was poor and appeared to be trending downward. When he was injured in game 1 of the 2008 season, he lost his starting position due to a combination of immature actions/ statements and the fact that the Titans just kept winning with Kerry Collins as the starter. When Tennessee re-signed Collins this offseason with the understanding that he would be the starter, it definitely seemed that Young’s chances in Nashville were slim. Now, following a disastrous 0-6 start, Young regained his starting position and the Titans won 5 straight before losing to the Colts last week. He started this past weekend, and had good numbers but a pulled hamstring in the second quarter sidelined him for the rest of the game. Because of the excellent record that the Titans have had since Young’s return, I thought it would be worthwhile to take a look at his numbers from his first two years and compare them to what he has done so far this season. I wondered if he really was performing at the high level that his 6-1 record as a starter this year would indicate.
So, without further ado, let’s get into Vince Young’s numbers. I pulled this data from the Vince Young page at Pro-Football-Reference.com. Below, I have four tables, three for Young’s passing numbers and the last one for his rushing numbers. I broke up his passing stats into three tables because their are so many columns of passing numbers that a single table would be too wide to fit in the blog post. The first table just shows Young’s win-loss record and the number games that he appeared and started in.
The next table shows the most common passing statistics: attempts, completions, yards, TDs, INTs, etc.
The third table shows yards per attempt and completions, sacks and sack percentage. For description of AY/A (adjusted yards/attempt), see his page on PFR, linked above.
Looking at these numbers, Vince Young really appears to be making better decisions this season than any previously. Although his best completion percentage came in 2007, he had nearly twice as many picks as TDs that year. This year, for the first time in his career, he has at least a TD pass per game. The clearest evidence of improved decision making is in his huge reduction in interceptions. His interception percentage this season is less than half what it was in either 2006 or 2007. Also, rather than averaging at or slightly above 1 interception per game as in previous years, he is averaging less than half an interception per game this season. Finally, he also taking fewer sacks than in years past as well. His sack percentage is also about half of what it was in 2006 and 2007.
Having established that Young’s passing has improved quite a bit, let’s take a quick look at his rushing since he made his mark at the University of Texas in large part because of his running ability. He used his legs to score the final touchdown that took down USC in the National Championship game.
So far, his rushing this season is on par with his past seasons. So, while he has improved his passing to the point that he does not need to rely on his legs as much, he has not removed that aspect of his game from his repertoire.
Overall, I’d say that Young has shown a surprising growth in maturity that I really didn’t expect to see after his off the field escapades last season. Not that he did anything that outrageous, but his response to losing his starting job seemed pretty childish. It looks like he has pushed through and learned from that adversity. Rather than sulking, he appears to have used his time on the bench to hone his craft and become a better football player.