Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Clash of the Titans


Well...I always seem to be about a week ahead of myself with these football messages. I pondered the state of the Titans last week, wondering what was wrong, and...voila! The latest and greatest struggle between coach Jeff Fisher and qb Vince Young hath boiled over. This is probably what was simmering last week. The amazing thing is that no one has heard a peep out of Randy Moss, which is probably a good thing. Nonetheless, coach and qb had a blowup of epic proportions following the Titans overtime loss to the Redskins Sunday with Young walking out of the team locker room, saying, "I am walking out...not on the team, but on the coach." This kind of insubordination is intolerable, but there seems to be some deep rooted angst involved on both sides of this dispute. Young had injured his thumb on his throwing hand late in the game and the coach pulled him out. Now, this whole matter is convoluted, because Young wanted to go back into the game even though his thumb was damaged, but Fisher stuck with untested rookie, Rusty Smith, instead, and the Titans ended up losing the game. The Titans placed their starting qb on injured reserve, Monday, so he is no longer available for the rest of the season. This move begs the question -- did they place Young in the IR because he is truly seriously injured, or is it a followup to the coach's threat that Young would not start for the Titans again this season? One still has to admire Young's courage for wanting to be on the field trying to lead his team to a win, especially given that his toughness has been questioned in the past.

That there has been friction between Fisher and Young, there is no question. Young has been somewhat problematic since he has been with the Titans. He spent the first several games of last season in Jeff Fisher's doghouse and on his bench, only to come back and nearly lead them to the playoffs after they started 0-6. Fisher also benched his two time pro-bowl QB early this year for some reason and started veteran Kerry Collins. All Young has done is lead the Titans to 30-17 record when he has started, which is pretty good. I think there is enough blame to go around, but I put the greatest blame on the coach who just doesn't seem to like his star qb. Some will say that head coaches don't need to be psychologists, and that may be true, but I don't think they need to be as clearly antagonistic as Fisher has been with Young, either. It is all probably water under the bridge, because it is unlikely that coach and qb are going to be able to coexist any longer. The real question is -- will owner, Bud Adams, let his long-tenured coach walk away, as he has been publicly supportive of Young...or will he trade or cut the volatile qb, the leader of his team? It will be interesting to see how it goes, especially since Adams has said that both of them are going to work it out and continue to work together. Okay.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys won their second straight under new coach Jason Garrett during NFL week 11, although they will have a stiff test on Thanksgiving against the Saints. The Jets are the new cardiac kids of the NFL, as they found another way to win a game in the last few minutes for the third week in a row. They could just as easily be 5-5, instead of 8-2, but as the saying goes...good teams create their own luck. This appears to be the case with the Jets. The Jets main division rival, the Patriots, held off the Colts in their annual battle of the future Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Tom Brady has been on a roll of late, and he played better than Peyton Manning, who literally threw away an opportunity for the Colts to tie the game near the end of regulation. Manning threw a senseless interception when they could have made a relatively easy field goal to put the game into overtime. I think Peyton Manning is a great guy and very good quarterback, but he is going to have to overcome his late game "Favre-like" picks that keep his team from succeeding (see last season's Super Bowl).

Speaking of Favre -- wherefore art thou? He is playing, but he looks like a shell of his former (last season's) self. The Vikings were dismantled by the Packers, 31-3, and it cost head coach Brad Childress, his job. This disturbs me in multiple ways, and I am not certain which aspect disturbs me most(?) Childress led his team to the NFC Championship game last year and were just a couple of plays away from the Super Bowl (thanks to Favre), but this year, the Vikings are 3-7 (mostly thanks to Favre), and so the coach pays the price...doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The other thing that bothers me is that it seems that some of the Vikings layed down and didn't give the full effort this past Sunday...much like the Cowboys seemed to do under former coach Wade Phillips when star qb Romo went down. Do these multi-millionaire players really need further motivation to get up for a game...other than the fact that they should love the game they play? Some of them are -- either just drawing a paycheck, or wanting to get rid of a coach that they don't like...or both. I think that the wealth of riches contributes to a general malaise when things are not going well...and such weakness affects not only sports, but the entirety of our society. I am not certain what the solution is. I feel bad for Childress...even though he made some mistakes, for certain. At the same time, I don't feel bad for Fisher. Funny game isn't it?


P.S. An article in AOL Fanhouse today concerning the Lions provides some credence to the above argument...unfortunately. I don't want to see the game I love become a joke...wiser heads and good leaders, hopefully, will prevail.

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