Reverse Discrimination

>> Tuesday

With every correction of outdated social norms, there is the inevitable danger of over-correction. When any such shift begins, the new centrist point is hazy, its precise location unknown--only that it lies in a particular direction. Once we've reached it, we often don't realize it, so we continue on in the same direction, overshooting that happy place and wandering toward a new extreme. Some might say that happened with the overthrow of the Czar; others might say it happened in the '60s; and perhaps that same thing is happening again with the "go green" movement.

Well, me not being the type to form or share thoughts on social issues, I can only point out this phenomenon in a realm where I have even less knowledge to contribute (yet speak on like an authority)--NFL quarterbacks.

For decades, the common perception was that black quarterbacks of the stereotypical mold--a guy whose speed and agility as a runner exceed his abilities as a passer, i.e. not Byron Leftwich--were a risky play. What they lacked in passing ability trumped their mobility and could not help their teams the way a good pocket passer could. As Donovan McNabb and others have said, black QBs are subjected to a different set of rules than white QBs; they need to prove their ability to win football games more times over than a white guy.

Or at least that's how it was. But I'm not so sure it's that way anymore. If nothing else, I think there's an overreactive element of football fans who emerged along with the rise of McNabb and Vick and wandered right past reason toward excessive favor for A+ runners and D+ passers. Maybe I'm way off base, but I can't see any better way to explain the praise garnered by one Vince Young so early in his career, especially this year with the Titans in contention for a wild card.

For a guy so roundly regarded as someone who "just finds ways to win games," these look to like some pretty loser-y numbers to me:

7 TD, 16 INT, 6.4 yd/att, 66.9 RAT

Last year? Not much better:

12 TD, 13 INT, 6.2 yd/att, 66.4 RAT

A winner? A true competitor? A guy who finds a way to get it done? Let's grow up everyone. Call the man what he is: a very good rushing quarterback in a run-first system, who's piggy-backed his team's very good defense to a winning record, despite being generally unnacceptable, by NFL standards, at passing the football.

You can talk all you want about his rushing contribution, but I'm not impressed. Adding those 432 rush yards to his 2,032 passing yards, that is 2,464 yards that Young has actually, tangibly contributed to his team either by moving his legs or hurling a ball to another player. You wanna argue that the rush yards are, in effect, worth more because they avoid incompletions and keep the ball and clock moving forward? Fine. You wanna argue that the threat to run keeps defenses "honest" and opens up the passing game? Well that's too bad because it's still Young who has to throw the ball, and he doesn't do that very well.

I'm willing to hear out any other less-perceptable quality of Young's style because I'm almost certainly missing something. But unless you can somehow correlate it to gaining his offense positive yardage and scoring more points, you're basically selling the same fairy tale that David Eckstein's agent has sold MLB GMs this winter.

Getting back to the thesis of this post, compare Young's situation to Rex Grossman. Last year, no one had a problem calling him a fucking bum. Everyone knew he was just the lucky benefactor of a dominant defense. The team won in spite of him. He was a loser amongst a crop of winners.

But Young, that guy's a winner. Look at him--all juking and jiving, leaping over defenders, taking hits. Who cares that he gets picked every 19.75 attempts? The dude's playing football. He's a football player. He doesn't have to throw at all. He's that good.

Do little; look good doing it; get in with the right talent; be a hero. My friends--this is Ozzie-ball, NFL-style. And Vince Young is the epitome of it. Just as MLB fans have overreacted to the homerun/steroid era and made heroes out of players just for being fast, regardless of their overall value, I think NFL fans have done the same for athletic, no-pass QBs, simply because they're a change from the traditional Johnny Pocketpasser mold. And hence, we have Vince Young--gamer, football player, professional winner--and we have Rex Grossman--shit-eater, choke-artist, scumbag.

I tell ya--Sometimes it's so hard being in the majority.

2 comments:

Iain 7:06 PM  

The reason Vince Young was called a "winner who does what it takes to get the job done" is he made several game winning drives alive last year by running, with the occastional pass. "Sexy" Rexy on the othe hand mannages to make stupid thows on numerous occations, in some cases lossing games that were otherwise winnable. Part of this is that the bears have no running game while the titans have very respectable runners outside of Young. What both teams lack are reciving corps that can scare corners. Looking at how much faster and bigger defences are getting you see Quaterbacks getting bigger and stronger as well. No, Vince Young will not be the achtype for the future of the position, but running a spread offence with the occational run by the QB thrown in seems to be working pretty well for the Patriots, Tony Romo isn't a sloth eighter. The pass rush of most teams is good enough that the old Bledso model of 5-9 step drop and pass doesn't work, movement even just around the pocket is key to avoding the being sacked every 4 plays.

Matt 10:18 PM  

I've been over this before, but I'll reiterate what I've had to say about Vince Young.

Mechanics: His mechanics are terrible. You can get away with that in college, but in the NFL you have to have solid mechanics to succeed. If you don't, you better at least have incredible...

Arm Strength: His isn't good either. As Ron Jaworski will tell you, real arm strength isn't being able to huck the ball 60 yards downfield, it's being able to fire off a fastball to a tight window at a receiver running a deep comeback.

Intellect/Decision Making: He doesn't make his reads well, too often pulling off after the first option and pulling it down and running. Compound that with an inability to make every throw and you're in trouble.

I'm not saying he's not fixable and won't develop into a servicable passer, but those are tough flaws to repair, especially when they're so innate.

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