When the Tennessee Titans announced Friday afternoon that they had signed quarterback Patrick Ramsey to a one-year contract, the talk and speculation immediately centered not on what Ramsey might bring to the table.
Instead, it fueled more speculation about the future of Vince Young and what role he will have with the Titans in both the short and long term.
Those inside Baptist Sports Park say both publicly and privately that they have not given up on Young, whose rollercoaster career hit a low point in 2008 with his well-chronicled actions in the season opener and aftermath of that game.
But the reality is, they haven’t exactly given him a vote of confidence either, and the signing of Ramsey signals that Young will have to fight for anything he gets in 2009 and beyond.
Make no mistake, Ramsey, 30, is not the Titans quarterback of the future in the way the Titans thought maybe Chris Simms could have been, if the Young experiment absolutely did not work out.
To use a favorite catch phrase of NFL players nowadays — Ramsey is what he is. That is he is a former first-round pick who didn’t quite live up to expectations with his original team, the Washington Redskins, but his attitude, skill, knowledge of the game and professional approach give him enough value that he is more than welcome as a backup quarterback, much the same way guys like Joey Harrington and Byron Leftwich have managed to hang around even after their stock is no longer rising.
It doesn’t hurt him, obviously that he already is familiar with offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger’s system and can help not only on the field, but also as a sounding board on the sidelines and in the classroom for starter Kerry Collins and Young.
So, where does this leave Young?
Some argued that the move seals his fate with the organization, that Ramsey probably didn’t sign to be a third-stringer. Probably not, and Ramsey certainly should have his eyes set on being the No. 2 quarterback behind Collins.
But the move doesn’t have to be a white flag on Young. It all goes back to what Jeff Fisher said about Young at the start of the off-season. He must show the type of dedication to his profession needed in order to succeed. In other words, doing it Young’s way didn’t work in the long run, once teams adjusted to his physical abilities.
Fisher and the Titans have made it clear that Young must do it their way in order to maximize any chance he has of redeeming himself here.
And to his credit, Young has asked what he needs to do to be the starter again.
As Fisher said, a good first step was taking part in the whole off-season program, which by all accounts Young has done.
The second step for Young came into focus on Friday. His next move is to take the right approach and right attitude and win the competition that will surely come with Ramsey as the second quarterback in training camp.