The Tennessee Titans, who beat the Buffalo Bills Sunday, 41-17, have won three in a row with Vince Young as starting quarterback. So the team is looking, well, in-Vince-ible these days, after starting out 0-6. But head coach Jeff Fisher has some explaining to do. After all, if Fisher had gotten his way, Young would still be holding the clipboard on the sidelines, with Kerry Collins continuing to "lead" the Titans to an 0-9 record.
In a victory for meddling NFL owners everywhere, team owner Bud Adams proved to be absolutely right in his demand last month that Fisher start Young. The Titans had lost six games in a row under Collins, with their worst loss of the season - and maybe of the franchise's history - coming in Game 6, when the New England Patriots slaughtered them in Foxboro, 59-0. Collins had an all-time bad game, going 2-for-12, with minus-seven yards. The Nashville Tennessean said the Titans "set the game of football back 50 years" with the game, and suggested the loss might be the worst not just in Titans' history, but in NFL history.
After such a horrible defeat, most coaches would be chastened. Not Fisher. First, the coach made light of the team's bad state, wearing a Peyton Manning jersey at a charity event. Fisher's excuse for donning the archrival Indianapolis Colts' #18? He said he "just wanted to feel like a winner today." Titans fans weren't exactly pleased by his sense of humor.
Then, when Fisher finally acceded to his owner's wishes for a QB change, he made it clear that it was not his choice, telling reporters:
I'm still in Kerry Collins' corner because I don't believe that our record is a reflection of the quarterback play. It's a reflection of the team play. I'm still in his corner, but we've decided to go ahead and make this change.
Hmmmm. The Titans lost six in a row with Collins, scoring only 84 points in those six games. In their three games - and wins - with Young as the starter, they scored 105 points. But it's all just a big old coincidence, right? Nothing to do with the quarterback or anything.
If Fisher still believes that, then he ought to be the next Titan to lose his job. Young wasn't just the University of Texas star who led his team to a national title in the 2006 Rose Bowl with one of the all-time great college performances in history. He also was voted the Associated Press' Offensive Rookie of the Year in his first season with the Titans. And in his second season, he guided the team to the playoffs.
But in his third year, Young got injured in the opener, and had some issues off the field - he reportedly battled depression and suicidal thoughts. When VY returned from injury, Collins kept his job as quarterback, as the team was winning under his leadership - they finished 13-3 and made the playoffs.
But it was one thing for Fisher to ride the hot hand when Collins was doing well. It's entirely a different matter to keep the 36-year-old in there after he lost six in a row to start out this season.
Now Young is riding high, as he and running back Chris Johnson have become a dynamic duo. And Fisher indeed has some explaining to do - to the media, to the fans, and to his team owner. Because thanks to his refusal to use Vince Young, he may very well have cost the Titans a shot at the playoffs this year.
If Fisher wants to feel like a winner now, he ought to don Vince Young's jersey.