Heading In The Wrong Direction

By David Climer
Updated: March 1, 2009

NASHVILLE — When the two met a month or so ago, Vince Young asked Jeff Fisher what he needed to do to reclaim his spot as the Titans’ No. 1 quarterback.

Fisher told him he needed to focus on offseason workouts and improve his fundamentals.

He should have mentioned one other thing: Watch and learn.

News that the Titans have re-signed Kerry Collins means they essentially have punched the Hold button on Young’s NFL career. For at least one season and possibly two, Collins is the Titans’ quarterback of record. Young is the backup.

Like Fisher said of Collins after the ’08 season: “If he comes back, for all intents and purposes he’s our starter and Vince waits.”

But waiting is only part of the equation. Young needs to take full advantage of the chance to learn from a veteran quarterback, both on the field and off. That wasn’t the case last year. There were no real indications that Young sought advice from Collins, who said on more than one occasion that he would be happy to be a mentor.

For V.Y., it was a lost season. And in the NFL, you can’t afford to take a year off. Time waits for no quarterback.

It has been quite a fall from grace. Young was NFL Rookie of the Year in ’06 and then led the Titans to the playoffs in ’07. By rights, last season should have been a major step forward.

Instead, he stepped back. It is hard to calculate the amount of damage he did when he tried to take himself out of the season-opener against Jacksonville. You don’t quit on your team.

It speaks volumes that Collins took every meaningful step the rest of the season and was hotly pursued by the Titans in free agency. For most of his coaching career, Fisher has abided by the philosophy that a player cannot lose his position because of injury. Once a starter recovers, he returns to the No. 1 unit.

But that was not the case with Young. His sprained knee healed in time but Fisher stayed committed to Collins. That commitment continues into the 2009 season.

With that in mind, this could be a defining season for Young. While Fisher continues to say V.Y. will be the quarterback “at some point in the future,” it is no longer a sure thing. Young takes a bigger chunk out of the salary cap in 2010. That could make him expendable after next season.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen if the Titans will bring back Chris Simms, who is getting lukewarm response on the free agent market. Simms doesn’t want to return as a No. 3 quarterback so if he re-signs with the Titans, it is clear that he has been told he can compete for the backup spot.

So we watch and wait. Barring injury, Collins is the Titans’ quarterback.

As for Vince Young, it is time to watch and learn before it’s too late.