The NFL is all about the quarterback.
This is not news to anyone. It has been that way for years, and it is the case now more than ever. There are the rules that favor the passing game. There are more big, fast, hyper-athletic wide receivers coming into the league every year, and teams increasingly find new ways to involve tight ends in the passing attack as well.
That’s why in 2011 Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford all passed for more than 5,000 yards — an unprecedented trifecta that had statisticians scrambling to keep their spreadsheets current. That’s why this fall Detroit’s Calvin Johnson set the league record for receiving yards in a season with 1,964.
Simply put: You can’t win in the NFL without a high-quality quarterback. Just ask the Arizona Cardinals or the Kansas City Chiefs or the New York Jets or any number of other teams
However, no longer is it necessary to try to find the next Brady or Peyton Manning. Oh sure, teams gladly
will take one if he’s out there — just ask the Indianapolis Colts — but it’s not like those guys come along every day.
The good news for other franchises is that Tim Tebow showed what the spread option offense can do in the NFL when he got the Denver Broncos to the postseason and won a game in 2011. Others jumped on board this year with more proficient passers, and the opening weekend of the playoffs featured Washington’s Robert Griffin III and Seattle’s Russell Wilson running, to some degree, a spread option attack. Waiting in the divisional round is San Francisco and Colin Kaepernick and a similar approach.
Expect even more teams to jump on board next season. And expect Vince Young to be involved somewhere.
That’s right, Vince Young. The same guy who tweeted advice to current Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker during one game this season, and a week or two later let the Cardinals know — through the social media site — that he was available and thought he could help.
It was mere months ago that it seemed like Young’s time in the NFL was up. He was released by the Buffalo Bills after having flopped a year earlier with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Maybe he was just ahead of his time.
Recall that the Titans’ 2006 first-round draft pick was the offensive rookie of the year that season, and it was not because he completed 51.5 percent of his passes or threw more interceptions (13) than touchdown passes (12). It was because he was something different. He was someone difficult to defend because he could run the ball — and he helped the Titans win.
He rushed for 552 yards and seven touchdowns, and Tennessee was among the league’s top five rushing teams, just as it was in the other two seasons he was the primary starter (2007 and 2009). He won eight of 13 starts as a rookie and had a 30-17 record before he was released.
Granted, if it simply was a question of athletic gifts Young still would be in the NFL. He has baggage beyond just questionable footwork and a flawed throwing motion to overcome.
Now, though, teams have reason to want to take a chance for him. His particular skill set no longer is a square peg in a league of round-hole offenses.
He doesn’t need every team to think he can do it. He simply needs one that is willing to sign him and tailor its scheme to him.
Given the importance of the quarterback in the NFL, it seems likely someone will do exactly that. If he can’t stick — and succeed — now, he never will.