Consider the similarities: Both quarterbacks won hugely celebrated national titles in their final collegiate season, then entered the NFL to great fanfare and acclaim, becoming the first passers selected in their class and going on to win the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award and earn a Pro Bowl trip.
Yeah, those are the similarities that I’m sure are driving this. Consider the similarities that Cam Newton had with JaMarcus Russell. Both played at SEC schools, in BCS bowl games, both were the first overall pick, and one year stars in college. Remember those comparisons?
Let’s consider the other similarities about these two, based on their play. Hmmm, well, It seems to me that they were the complete opposite. Vince Young, through one year and five games, was universally praised for being a winner despite his stats. (Tennessee was 11-7 in games he started by this date his sophomore year, including 9-4 in close games). Cam Newton has been cast as someone that can put up stats but can’t win (7-14, 3-9 in close games).
While the spotlight this time is highlighting Newton’s inability to live up to his monster rookie season in his second time around the league, five years ago right now, weren’t we beginning to ask some of the same types of questions about Vince Young?
Were we? Well, let’s see, there is this cool thing where you can see what people were saying five years ago. A quick search of articles mentioning Vince Young between October 1 and October 14, 2007:
After a 4.8 yards per attempt, 3 interception performance that the Titans still won 20-13 on a 76 yard interception return: “Vince Young is coming on. … You see moments where maybe he wishes he had a throw here or there back, but he’s not afraid to pull the trigger. And when all hell breaks loose, and he’s got to create with his legs, there’s nobody like him that I know. He’s a winner.”
After the Longhorns lost another game: Texas is missing Vince Young-type leadership.
In a game preview: “Vince Young, in his second season, is certainly [a legitimate NFL quarterback] and gives a young and rather faceless Tennessee team a good shot at competing for a playoff spot. The Titans are off to their best start since 2003.”
Vince Young and search term “sophomore slump”: [crickets]
Vince Young and search term “Akili Smith” (completely randomly selected bad quarterback, by the way): [crickets]
So you see, there is literally nothing like how these two are treated. You win, and your three interception effort where you stink and do nothing is a sign of progress. You lose, and you have character flaws.
Newton and Young’s quarterbacking talents are, of course, not completely synonymous . . .
Wait, what? You don’t say! But I thought this was about how similar they were.
Vince Young at this point in his second year, 6.18 YPA, 15 TD, 19 INT, 67.0 passer rating, career games with 250 or more passing yards = 0.
Cam Newton at this point, career: 8.0 YPA, 25 TD, 22 INT, 83.8 passer rating, career games with 250 or more passing yards = 9.
“I heard his press conference remarks after the [Seattle] game, and I said on the air I thought he was both courageous and on point, because he said, ‘This is my fault,’ ” Polian said. “I’m paraphrasing now, but he said ‘I’ve got to get it corrected and I’ve got to get back to work during the bye week on mechanics, on basic reads, on my throwing motion.’
“Essentially he broke down the things that had gone wrong during the ballgame, so I thought that was a tremendous step in the right direction. He knows what has gone wrong and needs to set about fixing it. That’s half the battle, and that’s a good thing.”
Quick, twist that so it shows immaturity or someone who doesn’t care about winning. Cam’s problem has so far been that he cares a lot about winning and hasn’t considered how his reaction to losing impacts teammates. That’s pretty much the complete opposite of Vince Young, who at this point was being praised for winning despite not really doing the things necessary to win.
But as Young’s once-promising career in Tennessee illustrates, nothing is guaranteed. At least not for long. They mean that well-worn mantra in the NFL.
Whereas the well-worn mantra of hack writers is to make cursory racial comparisons, while overreacting to quarterbacks wins and losses and the immediacy of each week in the NFL.
[photo via US Presswire]