Vince Young has watched the Tennessee Titans play the Pittsburgh Steelers.
When it comes to actually playing in the NFL, though, it’s likely that the fifth-year quarterback will see some things Sunday he’s never faced in his career.
“It’s not an easy deal,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “ … This is a team that literally controls the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and then confuses the most experienced of quarterbacks.”
The Titans and Steelers have met each of the last two years, and each time Kerry Collins was Tennessee’s starting quarterback. Young was merely a spectator.
Collins had been in the league nearly 14 full seasons when he completed 20 of 29 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown in a 31-14 victory on Dec. 21, 2008. He was just beginning his 15th campaign when he was 22-for-35 for 244 yards one touchdown and one interception in a season-opening 13-10 overtime loss last September.
In other words, he completed just short of two-thirds of his attempts, threw twice as many touchdown passes as interceptions and the Titans still managed just one victory in those contests.
“We have a great defense that we’re going up against,” Young said. “A lot of blitzes. Fast – they can get from Point A to Point B and into their assignments pretty fast. … I know we’re not going to have a ton of big plays at times, but if we stay focused and continue doing what we’re trying to do to execute our offense, we should be all right.”
With an array of blitzes and pre-snap looks from their 3-4 set, the Steelers have allowed the fewest yards in the NFL since the start of the 2006 season and the fewest points since the start of 2007.
Only eight rushers have gone for 100 yards or more against Pittsburgh over the past eight seasons, which might explain why its focus – apparently – this week is on running back Chris Johnson instead of who plays quarterback for the Titans.
“I think their offense still flows through Chris Johnson, as it should,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “He has a strong argument for being the best player in the world right now. They have some concept things, some speed option things, some designed things that highlight Vince’s athleticism and pedigree, but largely their personality is their personality and their offense flows through (No.) 28.”
Johnson rushed for 69 yards on 16 carries as a rookie in 2008 and just 57 yards (a season-low) on 15 carries in last year’s opener.
Now, it’s Young’s turn to see what he can do against the famed ‘Steel Curtain.’
“I really feel like it’s a great test for myself – definitely – as well as the whole team in general,” Young said. “We’re looking forward to it.”