Titanic Overractions In Nashville

By David Climer
Updated: August 17, 2008

NASHVILLE — He’s completing barely one-third of his throws, with a passer rating that’s dragging along in the mid-40s.

Accordingly, fans are in an uproar. How can you win with a starting quarterback who is putting up third-string numbers in the preseason?

We interrupt this harangue for a reality check. The quarterback in question is Eli Manning. He’s the guy with such lousy preseason stats.

He’s also the guy that quarterbacked the Giants to victory in the Super Bowl last season.

Vince Young? Believe it or not, his passer rating is better than Manning’s thus far in the preseason.

Look, I’m not here to sugarcoat how Young played against the Raiders on Friday night. I’ll leave that up to the see-no-evil Titans coaching staff. When the late-game heroics of your No. 3 quarterback are the talk of the town, you know you’ve got some troubles on offense.

But the prevailing alarmist attitude after two preseason games is sheer foolishness. Let’s turn it around: If Young had put up big numbers and the Titans were averaging 40 points in the preseason, would that mean they were a lock to unseat the Colts atop the AFC South? Of course not.

When it comes to Young, you’re either for him or against him. You either believe he’s the quarterback of the present as well as the future, or you think the team wasted a first-round pick on him three years ago.

That’s the deal with starting quarterbacks in the NFL. There is no middle ground.

Work in progress

There’s shared responsibility in this. Yes, Young played a bad game but he wasn’t alone. In particular, receivers had trouble getting separation from coverage.

“It’s preseason, but we still need to clean these things up,” said wideout Justin McCareins. “We’re close on a lot of things, but that doesn’t cut it. We need to start getting some momentum for the regular season.”

But the Oakland game was a reminder that this offense has a limited upside. Playmakers are in short supply. There is no go-to receiver. Rookie running back Chris Johnson, whose dazzling 66-yard touchdown run in the preseason opener got everybody hot and bothered, is experiencing NFL growing pains.

All of this shifts the burden back onto Young. He is still learning the nuances of offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger’s passing game.

Against the Raiders, he appeared to make the right reads and right decisions, but his throws were badly off-target. He’s trying to get the mental and physical sides of the game in sync. That’s what presesason games are for.

Right, Eli?