Fairly evaluating Vince Young's play

Vince Young was 3-for-13 against the blitz on Sunday. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

When free agency begins this offseason, Vince Young will be looking for another shot.

Another shot to be a full-time starter, after spending five seasons in Tennessee and one year in Philadelphia attending quarterback school.

He'll likely make his third start of the season Thursday night against the Seahawks, but has Young done enough to prove he deserves a chance to lead another team in 2012?

Last week, I took a look at how he played against the Giants.

Here's the breakdown of how Yong performed against the Patriots, starting with pass distribution:

  Targets Catches Yards Drops
Jason Avant 14 8 110 0
DeSean Jackson 10 4 73 3
LeSean McCoy 7 4 30 2
Brent Celek 6 5 75 0
Riley Cooper 5 3 71 1
Chad Hall 4 1 16 0
Clay Harbor 1 1 25 0
Totals 47 26 400 6

The targets, catches and yards aren't really relevant since so many of the throws occurred in the second half with the game out of hand.

I've heard some mention that Jackson isn't getting thrown to as much this season, and that's why he's been frustrated. That's simply not true. Jackson's averaging 7.6 targets per game; that's more than last season (6.9). Two of his three drops Sunday were in the end zone. According to STATS.com, Jackson has nine drops on the season, third-most in the NFL.

McCoy too had a pair of drops, but it looked like defenders were closing in on him on both occasions.

Young and Celek have formed a good connection. Young is 11-for-12 for 135 yards on throws to Celek the past two weeks.

It's worth noting that Steve Smith was not targeted and played just five snaps, even though Jeremy Maclin was injured, and Jackson was benched in the fourth quarter.

One ball was batted down at the line, so that target is not counted above. While Young completed just 54.2 percent of his passes, his supporting cast didn't do him any favors with six drops.


The Patriots blitzed (defined here as five pass rushers or more) on 14 of 56 dropbacks, or 25 percent of the time. And the results from Young were ugly. He completed just 3 of 13 passes for 8 yards and was also sacked once against the blitz.

On non-blitz throws, Young was 23-for-35 for 392 yards. He was sacked once and took off to run six times.

Here's the full breakdown:

No. of Rushers No. of Plays Completions Attempts Yards
3 1 1 1 13
4 41 22 34 379
5 10 2 9 7
6 3 0 3 0
7 0 0 0 0
8 1 1 1 1

For the most part, the Patriots rushed four. But as you can see, when they blitzed, the Eagles were completely ineffective. And for the most part, that had to do with Young and the receivers. The offensive line was pretty good throughout, including when New England sent extra pressure.


Perhaps the biggest difference from the Giants game to the Patriots game was third-down efficiency. Young was 9-for-12 for 107 yards on third down last week, but just 3-for-9 for 42 yards this week. And even those numbers are deceiving. At one point late in the third quarter, he was 1-for-7 for 19 yards on third down, before a couple conversions down the stretch.

Young also ran three times for 28 yards on third down, but only one of those moved the chains. Overall, he had the ball in his hands for 12 third downs, and the Eagles converted just four of them.

The Eagles were 2-for-4 in the red zone. The first touchdown was a McCoy run.

On the second trip, Young was sacked, ran for 1 yard and targeted Jackson, who dropped the ball.

On the third trip, Young had a 7-yard run and then threw incomplete on a rollout to Celek on fourth down.

And on the fourth trip, he hit Avant for a 1-yard TD in garbage time. Young dropped back six times in the red zone; on three of those occasions, he didn't even get a pass off. On the other three plays, he was 1-for-3 for 1 yard and a TD. Again, the Jackson drop had nothing to do with Young, who made a good pass.

Overall, the Eagles' offense is 24th in red-zone efficiency, scoring touchdowns 44.9 percent of the time.


Here's a chart of Young's throws by distance. I used the same ranges that Football Outsiders uses so we'd have a point of reference. Short is 5 yards or less. Mid is 6 to 15 yards. Deep is 16 to 25 yards. And Bomb is more than 25 yards. These are measured from the line of scrimmage to the point where the ball is touched, hits the ground or goes out of bounds.

  Completions Attempts Yards
Short 9 14 66
Mid 11 21 139
Deep 4 7 93
Bomb 2 5 102

Young took a lot of shots downfield and was successful early, hitting Celek, Cooper and Jackson for gains of 20+ yards.

The coaching staff showed a lot of confidence in Young, expecting him and the receivers to be able to compete in a shootout with Tom Brady and company. That gameplan obviously didn't work out so well. The Patriots, meanwhile, looked impressive offensively, but you have to wonder what someone like Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees would do to that defense.


The truth is, even if Young were flawless, the Eagles probably still would have lost. Brady and the Patriots' offense could have probably put up 60+ points if they wanted to against an overmatched Eagles defense.

But Young's numbers are misleading. He was off-target on several throws. Examples:

  • A slant to McCoy in the first that was incomplete.
  • The 44-yard completion to Jackson. It could have been a touchdown had Young not underthrown him.
  • The interception in which he badly underthrew Jackson for the second straight week.
  • An off-target pass to Jackson (who was open) on 3rd-and-12 in the second.
  • The 24-yard completion to Celek, which also could have been a touchdown had Young made a better throw.

In the second half, Young set up Jackson, Avant and Harbor for big hits. Jackson chose to duck. Avant went for the ball, but got crushed, and it fell incomplete. And Harbor went for the ball, got crushed, but came down with the catch.

Again, the loss wasn't all on Young. In many ways, this is the kind of performance you expect from a backup. That's why they are in that role. The defense was terrible; the gameplan not much better; and the receivers dropped too many balls.

While Thursday night's matchup against the Seahawks lacks relevance to many observers, it's another opportunity for Young to demonstrate what he's picked up from Andy Reid, Marty Mornhinweg, Doug Pederson and Michael Vick in the past five months. He needs to convince just one team that he deserves another shot in the second phase of his career as a starter.

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