One of the main storylines for tonight's game is the reunion of sorts between Pete Carroll and Vince Young. As most people are aware, Carroll last met Young back in the '05 National Championship game where the young Texas Longhorns' QB accounted for 467 total yards and three touchdowns, including one with 19 seconds left to take the lead, to lead his team in victory over Carroll's USC Trojans.
Pete Carroll said, of that game, - "I had said for years at ‘SC that we're going to go out and play the game that we want to play and it's about us and how we bring our game to it. Some time, somewhere down the road, some guy or a couple players find a way to play so far above the norm and they might beat us some day and we don't know when that's going to happen. That was that time - the night we faced him."
Carroll has shown unwavering respect to Vince for that performance and deservedly so.
Following that legendary game though, Young's career in the NFL thus far has been, for lack of a better word, weird - both his performance statistically and with off-field issues.
Kenny said it well in his post yesterday, "During his first four years and 39 starts in the league, Young completed 57.6% of his passes for 152.1 yards per game, 32 touchdowns against 39 interceptions, and 6.6 yards per attempt for a 72.3 QB rating. And his record as starter was 26-13. Of course, Young is a threat to run and scored 12 touchdowns on the ground with a career average of 5.2 yards per carry.
The funny thing is that last year in Tennessee Young completed 59.6% of his passes, 10 touchdowns against 3 interceptions, 8.0 yards per attempt, a 98.6 QB rating... and the team went 4-4 in his starts. His first non-winning season for the Titans. I guess we can only hope that Young plays well tomorrow night."
It should be noted that Vince played 'well' against New England last week (sort of), passing for 400 yards, and the Eagles were thoroughly trounced 38-20. Sooooo, maybe Kenny is on to something.
Carroll is, as could be expected, complimentary of Young... "We see him as a dynamic football player. He's very comfortable in the pocket - just look at what he did last week in throwing for 400. He's very comfortable standing in the pocket; he's not a running quarterback any longer, although he's running the ball seven or eight times a game still very effectively. He's just growing up, just as guys do when they come into the league."
Carroll also mentioned on the radio earlier this week that the Seahawks looked long and hard at Young during this offseason, as many of us expected, and though they ended up going with Tarvaris Jackson instead, there was a definite interest.
Greg Cosell, appearing on the excellent Shutdown Corner Podcast with Doug Farrar, explained, better than any of us could, exactly what type of QB Vince Young is:
"Vince Young has never been, in his NFL career, a quarterback that's been asked to go out and win games, and by that I mean, the offense has never run through Vince Young. He's been a complementary piece in a multi-dimensional offense, with a featured running game. That's what he was in Tennessee, he did have Chris Johnson."
Does this sound familiar to you? Something about Pete Carroll's balanced offense and that mythical "game-manager?"
What that means for tonight's game and to piggyback onto what Kenny was saying about the Seahawks hoping Vince Young plays well, what it really comes down to for me is hoping that Vince Young has to try to carry this Eagles team.
As Cosell explains, "The Eagles made a conscious decision against New England. They made a decision to attack the weakness of the New England defense - the secondary and the safeties in particular-, instead of relying on their best offensive player, LeSean McCoy.
Intellectually, it makes sense, but Vince Young has never been asked to be that kind of quarterback. He's not accurate enough on a consistent basis, he can't make the kind of stick throws into tight windows that result from anticipation that is necessary to throw the ball 30+ times.
So he was asked to do something that he's not really capable of doing."
"'See it and throw it quarterbacks' (which is what Young is, as Cosell and Farrar explain) have to wait to see the receiver break open. So they have to have two things in order to be successful: velocity and accuracy. Perhaps the best example of a see it and throw it quarterback is Jay Cutler. He has great velocity, and when his feet are set, he has great accuracy. Vince Young has neither great velocity nor great accuracy.
So therefore, you must help him with your offensive approach. Meaning, that it must work off the run game, you must use play action, you must better define the reads for him, and you can't ask him to run a multi-dimensional offense, lining him up in the shotgun, and having him throw the ball 30, 35, 40 times."
To me, tonight's game is sort of reminicent to the Baltimore game. LeSean McCoy is kind of like Ray Rice. Vince Young is kind of like Joe Flacco. If the Seahawks can force the Eagles to get out of what they're best at - running the football and utilizing their best player in LeSean McCoy - they could have a decent chance to come out on top.
We saw the Ravens, for whatever reason, either pre-planned or as a result of the Seahawks' stout run defense (or both), essentially abandon their run game at the CLink and lean on Joe Flacco. He threw the ball 52 times and Ray Rice only had 5 carries. The Seahawks won that game.
The Eagles, similarly, did this against New England, - not the best run defending team out there, giving up 4.3 yards per carry on the season - by leaning heavily on Vince Young. They handed off to Shady McCoy only 10 times while calling for Young throw the ball nearly 50 times. If the Eagles make this their gameplan, or hopefully, if the Seahawks force them to make this their gameplan by stuffing the run as they've been known to do, this could be an interesting game.
Regardless, I'm looking forward to it.