“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” 1st Corinthians verse 12
For any of you who happened to have witnessed last night’s NFL game between the Houston Texans (5-5) and the Tennessee Titans (4-6). We may well have witnessed what is undoubtedly the growing maturity of Titans’ quarterback, Vince Young. Almost single-handed, he led his team back against the Texans. And he may well faltered the ambitions of Gary Kubiak’s team of making their first postseason playoff appearance as the reconstructed Texans. As we all know, the team came into being when the Houston Oilers relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, to become the Tennessee Titans.
The game between these two AFC South divisional rivals lived up to and beyond expectations. And it might just have been on the best Monday night games that we’ve witnessed this season, so far. It went a long way in cementing the fact that the diatribe served up between the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions last Sunday, while prolific in terms of the offensive productivity. It did very little to heighten the brand of football that the NFL fan is normally accustomed to. And though 75 points were put up on the scoreboard and over 920 yards of total defense was attained jointly,by both teams. The coaching staff of both the Browns and the Lions did very little to suggest that their teams have learned the art of defense, from an NFL standpoint. The 38-37 Lions’ victory for Jim Schwartz’s team may well have curtailed his own prospects of being a managerial casualty at the end of the season.
There had been many who doubted that Young’s return to the NFL ,much less the Titans’ team would ever happen. Psychologically it appeared that the player’s mind was elsewhere. And the thinking was, that his career in the NFL was about to come to an abrupt end. And this from the same player ,whose introduction into the NFL came by way of his historic performance for the Texas Longhorns in the national championship game against the USC Trojans.That performance alone went a long way in suggesting that the NFL was about to get its newest superstar. But as we’ve all come to know , what one achieves at the college level isn’t often soon replicated at the professional level in the NFL. And for Young , the perceived hype about him was short lived. His cockiness and immaturity all too soon began to shed light on what he was not only about as a person but also as a teammate. Narcissism is the word that immediately comes to mind. And the respect that he thought that would be immediately forthcoming from his new teammates just wasn’t there. Vince Young seemed to have forgotten that before you earn the respect of your peers and teammates , you’ve to give respect.
Growing pains and the endless questions not just about Young’s ability but also whether or not he was prepared to put the necessary time in to take his game to the next level. Well, it had everyone wondering if the Titans’ organization had made the right decision in drafting Vince Young. Titans’ GM, Mike Reinfeldt ,and the team’s coach,Jeff Fisher, as well as Fisher’s coaching staff were assuredly sure, that Young was the player that they wanted. And while those doubts continued initially over Young’s first four years in the NFL. He’s been a starter, he’s been benched and then become a starter again. So inconsistent had been his performances over that span , that the thought that he could still be performing in the league, was essentially now becoming an afterthought.
With Kerry Collins as the starting quarterback last season, having led to the team to a surprising 13-3 regular season mark. The team inexplicably would fall in the first round of the playoffs. The disappointment wasn’t all lost on the Titans’ fans. But in many ways it was indicative of what we’d come to expect of the team. “Always the bridesmaid , never the bride”. This year starting off with an 0-6 mark , we were all surprised as to how far that the team had fallen. Instantaneously they were being talked in the same breath as the ‘bottom feeders’ of the league, such as the Oakland Raiders, St Louis Rams , Cleveland Browns,Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And needless to say, there were many who beginning to think that now would be the time to fire Jeff Fisher and to bring in fresh blood to coach the team . But so implicit has been owner, K. S. ‘Bud’ Adams Jr’s faith in Jeff Fisher , that I seriously doubt that the thought had ever seriously crossed his mind. And that was even after this year’s 0-6 start to the season.
The decision was made to pull Kerry Collins and install Vince Young as the starter for the remainder of the season. And what we’re now seeing from Young, it is that he’s a reconstituted player, who seems to have learned from his time away from the starting quarterback position. He now seems to be self assured playing with the mindset that he’s not got to go out and try to win the game all by himself. But to rely more on his teammates and instinctively take in what it is that coach Fisher and quarterback’s coach Craig Johnson have been instilling into him, in order to make him a better quarterback and a more complete player as a whole.
Four straight wins ,with a 4-6 mark and but a mere game behind the Texans in the divisional standings. The Tennessee Titans,most definitely are a rejuvenated team and they seem to be on a mission. Last night’s game was self evident of that , with the team outlasting the Texans for a great away win at the Texans’ Reliant Stadium in Houston. And to my mind the other hero in this game for the Titans was the team’s running back Chris Johnson. In defeating the Houston Texans 20-17 – the Tennessee Titans with Vince Young leading and Chris Johnson toting the ‘rock’ with his usual gusto. The game became something of a reawakening for the Titans’ fans. Johnson torched the Texans’ defense for 159 yards on 29 carries and his performance highlighted what self belief is said to be all about. It was Johnson who also boldly stated “……0-6 , we’re quite capable of reeling off ten straight wins and play ourselves into contention for a playoff spot.” Brash words indeed but who are we as such, to doubt him or this team as of now ? Though on the face it impossible , with the way that they’ve been playing over the last four games. It’s not at all out of the realms of possibility.
For Vince Young and his performance last night, well the thought that he can now be the player that we all saw set the world alight in that national championship game. If he can at all now live up to that perception , while showing his growing maturity as a player and as an adult. Then there’s no reason to believe why he can’t step into the upper echelons of the elite quarterbacks within the NFL. He’s got all of the prerequisite skill but the only thing missing initially at the time was his apparent lack of maturity. He now seems to be showing that and a great deal more. He’s earned the respect of his teammates, as well as that of the Tennessee Titans’ fans. And that if anything, he may well be proving now that once and for all he’s put away childish thoughts in order to become a man and a better professional !
AFC South Divisional standings
AFC South Team W L T Pct PF PA Net Pts TD Home Road Div Pct Conf Pct Non-Conf Streak Last 5
Indianapolis Colts 10 0 0 1.000 269 157 112 33 5-0 5-0 3-0 1.000 6-0 1.000 4-0 10W 5-0
Jacksonville Jaguars 6 4 0 .600 199 235 -36 24 4-1 2-3 2-2 .500 5-2 .714 1-2 3W 4-1
Houston Texans 5 5 0 .500 232 208 24 28 2-3 3-2 1-3 .250 4-4 .500 1-1 2L 3-2
Tennessee Titans 4 6 0 .400 209 272 -63 23 2-2 2-4 2-3 .400 3-6 .333 1-0 4W 4-1