If this were any other place in the football-playing universe the din would be deafening. Any place else, and the chorus would be raised by the majority – an overwhelming majority.
The call would be clear and concise: ‘Play the other guy.’
This is nowhere else, though. This is here, and here is the one place where the backup quarterback is not the most popular player on the team.
So on a night when the starter – a 36-year-old with his fifth different franchise – went 4-for-9 for 37 yards with two interceptions no one let loose with a full-throated call for change. Never mind that said starter even failed to produce a touchdown – or even a first down – when a fumble recovery gave the ball to him and the offense a mere 22 yards out on one first-quarter possession.
Instead, everyone simply swallowed hard, hoped for the best and expected the worst when the second-stringer – a 26-year-old who not long ago was one of the most dazzling college football players ever – entered a meaningless contest.
As it turned out, Vince Young did not do too badly at all in the Tennessee Titans’ 27-20 preseason victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at LP Field on Saturday.
In fact, he was pretty good.
There was the small matter of the improvisational toss from his knees to running back LenDale White after a bad shotgun snap – Young’s preferred formation – a play that, with the help of a penalty, turned into an 11-yard loss and loss-of-down.
Then again, there also was the 38-yard completion to rookie Kenny Britt on his second pass of the night. He found Britt again for a 37-yard touchdown pass early in the second half on a play when the threat of a Young scramble caused an inexperienced defensive back to abandon his coverage responsibilities.
In roughly one full quarter of work, Young completed nine of 14 passes for 131 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. His passer rating was 118.5, more than seven times that of Kerry Collins (16.7).
Typically, it’s the promise of what he can do that is at the core of the backup’s appeal. Preseason flashes make so many think that anything is possible in October, November and December – if the guy could just get a chance.
There’s nothing typical about this place or this situation.
Fans have seen Young struggle in a myriad ways – both on the field and off. Thus, one good August night against the Buccaneers is not near enough to convince anyone that his time is now.
They cheered him, yes. But was anyone really willing to say that he should be the starter Sept. 10 at Pittsburgh?
David Boclair is a senior sports writer for The City Paper and nashvillecitypaper.com.