By Chris Murray
For the Sunday Sun and CM Report
The last time Eagles backup quarterback Vince Young donned an NFL uniform, it was not definitely not the best of times.
Young’s season came to an unceremonious end last November when he walked out on his former team the Tennessee Titans after he was benched in a loss to the Washington Redskins. He reportedly threw his shoulder pads into the stands out of frustration. In the locker room after the game, Young and then-head coach Jeff Fisher got to an argument. Young walked out on his teammates and told his coach, “I’m not running out on my teammates, I’m running out on you.”
As blatantly immature and petulant as Young’s action was, it was also emblematic of the fact that his former head coach never really wanted him as his quarterback. The decision to draft Young from various reports came from Titans’ owner Bud Adams, a University of Texas alum like Young. Apparently, Young felt that Fisher never had his back during his time his time in Tennessee.
And so now Young is in a new situation here in Philadelphia, not as a highly-touted starter, but as a backup to Michael Vick. After not feeling like he was wanted in Tennessee, Young said he likes his surroundings in Philadelphia thus far from his coaching staff to to his teammates.
“From a team aspect and coaching aspect, I really feel like it’s been an easy transition because they’ve definitely been helping me out,” Young said. “They’ve been helping me to stay on top of things , making sure I’m in the right places.”
You would think that a guy who was the 2006 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and a two-time Pro Bowler would come off as a guy with a sense of entitlement with the expectation to be a starter.
Instead, a seemingly more relaxed and perhaps a more mature Young said he’s content to be here to back up Michael Vick and to learn from head coach Andy Reid and the Eagles coaching staff.
“I’m just happy, man. It’s an opportunity, a learning experience. Once you have an opportunity, you better take dead aim at it because you never know when you’re going to get another one,” Young said after playing in his first preseason game as an Eagle. “That’s pretty much how I looked at it. I had the opportunity to play with one of the best coaches in the NFL that I have a lot of respect for. I just took dead aim at it.”
Young got limited action in the Eagles first preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens, completing 3-of-5 passing for 45 yards. On third and 14 from the Eagles 33 early in the second quarter, Young showed he still has the ability to make a play when things go wrong when he scrambled out of disintegrating pass pocket to hit wide receiver Chad Hall for a 32-yard gain.
Not bad for a guy still trying to learn the Eagles complex offense. Reid said he was hesitant to put Young in the game, but likes the progress he was making thus far and decide to let him get in a few plays and he liked what he saw.
“We’ve thrown a lot at him. It is like learning French in four days. He’s hanging in there and digesting everything,” Reid said. “He has a great attitude, and you saw that he loves to play. He will do nothing but get better with more practice. He’s so willing and he wants to learn, and he’s studying and doing everything he’s supposed to do.”
For all the criticism that Reid has received in Philly over the years, the one thing he has been good at is developing quarterbacks like Brett Favre, Donovan McNabb and more recently Michael Vick.
There are quite a few football observers who are saying that Young, a No.1 draft pick back in 2006, has been a bust at worst and a disappointment at best.
But how much of a bust can you be when you are 30-17 as a starter with a group of receivers that didn’t scare anybody? After all, this is a guy that has seven fourth-quarter comebacks and has led his team to victories on 12-game-winning drives.
By the time he played his last game for the Titans, Young was showing signs of improvement. He had a 98.6 passer rating with 10 touchdowns passes against three interceptions and was completing close to 60 percent of his passes. Still, Young’s career completion percentage is less than 60 percent.
“I made a lot of progress when I was (in Tennessee) and I’m making more progress as well here. It just comes with years with years and reps, but mostly years. It just comes when you’re paying attention and listening. I feel like the coaches are doing a phenomenal job of getting me ready to play.”
But for everything that has happened to him, Young said he has no chip on his shoulder or something to prove. He wants to learn the offense and be a good teammate.
“I’m just older. I’m 28-years-old, I’m growing into my age …I’m just happy to be here, there’s a great guys and a lot of great leaders here,” Young said. “I’ve just got to stay ready. I want to push Mike (Vick) to be the best that he can be to lead his team to a Super Bowl. The things that he’s doing, you saw it (against the Ravens) with great throws and big plays to lead the team to a championship.