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"Lou is not talking about mechanics when he goes out to the mound,"
~Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Buzz from Houston

I don't want to call Houstonians reactionary after watching Vince Young's outstanding Rose Bowl performance, but I have no better word to describe them. So here it is, in typical Jime Rome fashion where he says he doesn't want to say something and then immediately follows that by saying what he didn't want to say, HOUSTONIANS ARE REACTIONARY!

I spent quite a bit of time in Houston over Christmas. The buzz around town, in the paper, and on talk radio was the Bush Bowl. Texan fans couldn't wait to lose to San Fran and draft their savior, Reggie Bush. There was no other option. To even think of another option was blasphemous. To suggest trading the pick or drafting a lineman meant you were a traitor, or even worse, one of those scumbags from Dallas.

Reggie Bush was to be the next Marshall Faulk, Gayle Sayers, and Barry Sanders all rolled into one. He was going to be that extra weapon David Carr needed to finally make him a legitimate pro signal caller. Things were looking up. Houston lost to San Fran. Reggie Bush was theirs. I would even guess that a few people personalized #5 Texans jerseys with the name Bush on the back. Now, if the reactionary Texan fans get their new wish, those jerseys will be useless.

After Vince Young's Rose Bowl performance, the buzz around H-Town has changed. Bush is no longer the only option. He's no longer the savior this young franchise so desperately needed. That title belongs Vince Young now. The sentiment, however wrong, is understandable. VY grew up in Houston and will eventually be inducted into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame for his record setting numbers at Madison High. From there he went to UT, the state's oldest and biggest university. In 3 years he wowed Longhorn fans with his athleticism before bringing the National Championship back to Texas for the first time in over 30 years. And now the Texans, a team that needs a face for its franchise, has the number one pick. It just makes sense. It fits. End of discussion, right?

Wrong. I'm no Texans fan so I could care less who they take with the top pick. All I want is for Vince Young to go somewher in the top 4, pushing another player down for the Packers to choose from. Whether it's Houston, New Orleans, Tennessee, or New York that drafts him makes no difference to me. For the record, I think it will be the Titans, with the Saints picking Leinart. I still believe the Texans will take Bush or trade the pick, no matter what their fan base is calling for them to do. To me Vince Young is too much of a risk.

I'm not one to nitpick about his release like many others do. Coaches can correct that kind of stuff and at 6'5" it may not be much of an issue anyways. I do have other concerns about how his game translates to the next level. The first is that he's never run anything close to a sophisticated pro style offense. Much of his time in college was spent running the option read out of the shotgun.

Vince supporters argue that his athletecism will allow him to adjust and still be successful at the next level. While he is an exceptional athlete, he's certainly not something the NFL has never seen before. Compare his physical tools to Mike Vick. Who's faster, VY or Vick? Mike Vick. Who's quicker? Mike Vick. Who's got the stronger arm? Mike Vick. In looking at pure physical tools, not only is he inferior to Mike Vick, but I'm not so sure he's a better athlete than Matt Jones. Much of the athletecism debate comes down to your opinion of how good Mike Vick is, but even if you think he's amazing you shouldn't expect Vince Young to be at his level.

The comparisons to Vick mostly come from Vince's style of play. He's not a scrambling QB; he's a running QB. Steve Young and John Elway were scramblers. They were guys who ran only when they had to. Vick and VY's game depends on their ability to run. That eagerness to run in the NFL means more injuries and shorter careers. A guy can't throw the ball 25 times a game and run it another 15 times without needing a bodybag. Not in this this league they can't. Vick is only five years into his pro career and is already showing signs of slowing down.

2004- 902 rushing yards/ 7.5 ypc/ 10 rushes of 20+ yds
2005- 597 rushing yards/ 5.9 ypc/ 5 rushes of 20+ yds

Sure, Vince will still be an effective runner on the next level, but not as much as he was in college. Very seldom will he be able to take over games with his feet alone. He couldn't do it against AJ Hawk's Buckeyes or a pathetic A&M defense. Well, newsflash Vince. The NFL is full of AJ Hawks. He's going to have to throw the ball. That's what I don't think he can do.

People talk about his improvement as a passer and the improvement is there, but he's nowhere near the level he needs to be at to be successful in the pros. His completion percentage is wildly misleading. Anyone who's seen more than a couple Longhorn games know the vast majority of his passes are flares in the backfield or 5-10 curls into the soft spot of a zone. He has no ability, let alone consistency, to throw the ball down the field. I'm not so sure he can zip the out routes either, especially to the left side.

And as for the arguement that Vince will put butts in the seats, great. The Texans have sold out every single home game they've ever had and will continue to do so as long as they start winning. I'm not sure what seats they are talking about that need to be filled. By the way, I hear this guy Bush is pretty fun to watch too. May not be true. Just what I heard.

In the end, the Texans will do the right thing. The fans will get mad and boo like they live in Philly. Bush will be awesome and Young will be average. The fans will forgive. As for now though, Houstonians need to ask themselves just one question. Do you want Vince Young in Houston because you're a Texans fan or because you're a Longhorns fan?

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