Mac Engel

Vince Young should have been the first Cam Newton

Former Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young never made it big in the NFL because he wasn’t accurate.
Former Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young never made it big in the NFL because he wasn’t accurate. Star-Telegram

One of the knocks on Vince Young during his career was that he was not coachable, but in his latest high-profile incident, the former UT QB appears to have taken to coaching — he didn’t blow.

Pulled over by the Austin cops in the early hours on Monday morning on suspicion of drunk driving, VY did not blow into the breathalyzer. That’s a man who’s been coached.

Had VY been as receptive to this kind of coaching when he was a kid, he might still be in the NFL.

It was 10 years ago that VY ran into the end zone at the Rose Bowl to give the University of Texas its first national title since 1970; he was supposed to be the quarterback that would redefine the position in the NFL.

The latter has happened, but it wasn’t VY who did it. Cam Newton has become the first guy to do what so many coaches insist could not be done — a quarterback who can run it and throw it with equal aplomb, and as dominant in the pros as he was in college.

Cam has become the Shaquille O’Neal of the NFL — so big, fast and coordinated he can embarrass the rest of the league. But he should not have been the first.

The first should have been Vince.

VY has only himself to blame for the fact he is not in the NFL, but somewhere along the way, his coaches failed him miserably. Rather than teach him how to throw a ball straight, they were lazy and let him do whatever he wanted because their short-term gains were more important than his long-term development.

VY was a drama mama who couldn’t throw straight, whereas Cam slings it with more precision. The moral of the story: Teach your sons to avoid the drama, and to throw a ball accurately.

This is not some lame black guy quarterback comparison because VY was Cam before Cam. There were previous quarterbacks that were effective runners — Fran Tarkenton, Roger Staubach and Steve Young to name three — but none of them ever had the body and skill at the position like these guys. None of them were tight ends that played quarterback.

When he played, VY was a 6-foot-5, 232-pound freak of athleticism who could run over, around and through defenders. He averaged more than 5 yards per carry in his NFL career.

Cam is a 6-foot-5, 245-pound Superman who, as a runner, is not too different from Vince; he averages more than 5 yards per carry, too.

But watch them throw. Cam’s mechanics are pretty and he throws a tight spiral that lands where he, his receivers and his coaches want the ball to. VY had a peculiar motion that was awkward and ultimately ineffective.

Surprisingly, their career completion percentages are nearly identical: VY at 57.9 percent and Cam at 59.6.

The difference, and what ultimately cost VY, was that Young threw 46 touchdowns and 51 picks. Cam has thrown 117 touchdowns and 64 interceptions.

Some were VY’s poor choices, some were poor mechanics. No one ever taught him how to throw a ball properly, or he refused to change, and by the time he arrived in Tennessee as the No. 3 overall pick, it was too late. The NFL is not the place to dramatically alter mechanics; you do that in high school, or college.

The Green Bay Packers were the last team to give Young a shot, but the extended tryout in 2013 ended with his release. Even Packers GM Ted Thompson admitted shortly after that decision that he had wished he could have brought in Young earlier. There was always something there with Vince, but either the coaches he had as a kid didn’t try or he didn’t listen.

This is not a direct shot at VY’s college coaches, most notably Mack Brown, because he did try before he wisely threw up his hands and gave the keys to VY that led to the title. This is more of a shot at Young’s youth coaches.

As Newton prepares to play in the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos, VY prepares to spend more money on lawyers to clean up a legal mess stemming from an arrest for suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

His employer, the University of Texas, plans to keep him employed as “Vince Young — the Guy that Won Us a Title.” VY issued a public apology, too.

The Longhorn Network — yes, that still exists — has not issued any statement about whether it will retain his services to comment on their underachieving football team. It should. He does offer quality insight, and he’s not a bad person.

He has earned his degree from UT, and he makes about $100K to work for the school; he has all of the tools to have a good life.

The life he wants is Cam’s, but we all don’t get what we want. Maybe it would have been different had he been as receptive to coaching about football as he was with lawyers about being pulled over.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Mac Engel: 817-390-7697, @macengelprof

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