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Titans' QB has his critics, but he continues to win games.
By Charean Williams
He has thrown more interceptions (41) than touchdowns (36). He has completed only 58.2 percent of his passes. He has a career passer rating of 73.7.
But for everything he supposedly hasn’t done, can’t do or will never do as a passer, Vince Young has done one thing right: He has won.
The Tennessee Titans quarterback is 28–15 in his career as a starter. His .651 winning percentage is one of the best among active NFL quarterbacks, right up there with Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.
It’s the same thing he did at the University of Texas, where he went 30–2 in three years as the starter.
“There are so many doubters, and they’re still doubting now,” Young said. “A lot of people don’t even mention that [winning percentage]. They always mention all the other stuff. That’s why I’ve continued to stay focused and use that type of things as motivation to keep us going on with success for my teammates.”
Still, there remain questions about his commitment, his leadership and his maturity.
This summer, Young was involved in a fight at a Dallas strip club and was issued a Class C Assault citation.
“I was disappointed, but I’ve moved on from that,” Young said. “Things happen, and it happened.”
Against the Steelers in Week 2, Young was benched in the fourth quarter of a 19–11 loss. He threw two interceptions and fumbled twice before being replaced by Kerry Collins.
The Tennessean later reported that Young missed or arrived late for at least two meetings the week of that game.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher, though, said this week that Young’s preparation has improved since he entered the NFL as the No. 3 overall pick in 2006.
“He’s improved over the last couple of years, certainly,” Fisher said. “I think it started with his opportunity to watch Kerry win 10 straight [in 2008] and having to prepare himself to play at a moment’s notice as a backup. Through that experience, I think he’s really improved. He works hard at what he’s doing.
“He just had a moment. It’s one of those things. I’ve said this numerous times, I made a decision just as I would to make a decision to go for it on 4th-and-two.”
Young, 27, is a better quarterback now, facing the Cowboys, than he was when he made his first start, also against the Cowboys, in 2006. He is completing 66.2 percent of his passes, though he has had only 71 attempts, and for the first time, he could have more touchdowns than interceptions in a season.
“Whatever it takes to win a ball game,” Young said.
That’s the one thing he’s always been good at.
Clayton Having a Blast
It didn’t take long for Mark Clayton to become Sam Bradford’s new best friend. They both went to Oklahoma, after all, though at different times.
Clayton, the 22nd overall pick in 2005, was traded by the Ravens to the Rams only six days before the season opener. He became Bradford’s favorite target overnight.
“I was actually talking to Sam about [being traded to St. Louis] in the offseason,” Clayton said. “We clowned around about it. Man, for it to actually happen was surprising and very exciting.”
Clayton was the target on 14 of Bradford’s passes last week and had five catches for 72 yards. He leads the team with 22 receptions for 300 yards and two touchdowns.
“It’s good to be in a position where an organization trusts you,” Clayton said. “Just knowing what you’re capable of using your God-given talents, to be able to go out week in and week out and demonstrate the work and diligence and everything you put into it on the field.”
The Rams are one of the league’s most surprising teams, with their 2-2 record tied for the lead atop the NFC West with the Cardinals and the Seahawks.
Clayton, a free agent after this season, hopes to stay in St. Louis long enough to help the Rams completely turn things around.
“I love it here. Hopefully, they like me enough to stay here,” he said.
Seahawks rookie safety Earl Thomas is all hands. He has three interceptions in four games, tying him for the league lead with another rookie, Eagles safety Nate Allen, and Panthers safety Charles Godfrey.
Thomas also is third on the team with 23 tackles.
“As a rookie, I didn’t want to be the weakest link on the team,” Thomas said. “I’ve just been working hard to correct my mistakes and try to get better.”
ª Eagles left tackle Jason Peters was called for two of the team’s four holding penalties last week. That makes three holding penalties and a false start on Peters in four games. In 20 games with the Eagles since signing a six-year, $60 million contract last year, Peters has been called for 14 penalties.
• Redskins nosetackle Albert Haynesworth looked more like an All-Pro than Just a Guy last week as he had four tackles, one for a loss, and a pass defensed against the Eagles. He also drew a couple of holding penalties in roughly 30 snaps.
• Running back Cadillac Williams acknowledged the Bucs may be readying to move on without him. He is splitting carries with rookie LeGarrette Blount and Kareem Huggins. Williams, who has undergone two major knee surgeries, is off to one of his worst starts in his six seasons with 139 yards on 55 carries, a 2.5-yard average. Williams will become a free agent after the season.
• Mike Tolbert has become the Chargers’ lead back, though coach Norv Turner insists on calling rookie Ryan Mathews by that title. Tolbert is producing like a No. 1 back going for 100 yards on 16 carries last week.
• The Seahawks love what Justin Forsett has brought to their running game with 215 yards on 51 carries, a 4.2 yard average. But Forsett is only 5-8, 194 pounds, which is why they traded for Marshawn Lynch, who is 5-11 and 214 pounds. Forsett, who played with Lynch at Cal and had him as a groomsman in his wedding last summer, will remain the starter at least in the short term.
• Ken Whisenhunt probably figures he has nothing to lose by starting an undrafted free agent this week. The Cardinals had only 124 yards on offense last week, including only 23 in the second half. The Cardinals can see what they have in Max Hall and another rookie, John Skelton, before the 2011 draft.
• The Ravens are 1–3 in the next game following a win over Pittsburgh. When the Ravens beat the Steelers in overtime last season, they lost at Green Bay by 13 points.
• The Titans have had a league-high six personal fouls called on them this year.
• Denver quarterback Kyle Orton has thrown for 1,419 yards, the second-most passing yards through the first four games of the regular season in NFL history. Only Kurt Warner (1,557 in 2000) had more.
• The Lions have allowed 24 points off turnovers in four games. They have been outscored by a total of 24 points in the four losses.
• The Texans never had a winning record on the road until last season when they were 5–3. Now they have a four-game winning streak away from home. Since the start of last season, they are 7–3 on the road. They are 9-4 over their past 13 games.
• Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and receiver Reggie Wayne have combined for 9,703 career yards, moving past Buffalo’s Jim Kelly and Andre Reed (9,538) into second place on the NFL’s all-time list for yards by a quarterback-receiver duo. Manning and Wayne now trail Manning and former Colts receiver Marvin Harrison (12,766).
• The Dolphins have had four punts blocked since the start of the preseason.
• Last season, the Saints won their first six games by double-digit margins and outscored those six opponents by a total of 111 points. They have won three games this season by a total of 10 points.
• Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb leads the league with four completions of at least 50 yards. They have gone to four targets — Santana Moss, Joey Galloway, Fred Davis and Anthony Armstrong.