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Tavern talk: Titans go back to the future

This time around, Vince Young must be a leader for Tennessee. Michael Lombardi

Print This October 29, 2009, 04:59 PM EST

The Vince Young Era number two begins in Tennessee this weekend at home against the Jags. Jeff Fisher made the right move, regardless of the feelings of the owner; this was the move he had to make. For the Titans to have a productive offseason, the Vince Young question must be answered and must be finalized one way or another. Progress can only come when questions have been answered correctly.

There will be no third chances for Vince. He will need to prove this time he is willing to accept the responsibility of being a starting quarterback in the NFL, from his preparation to his leadership on the field. His teammates must see this is the new and improved Vince, not the same old Vince who relied on his God-given talent.

This morning, Bill Simmons was on my favorite show, “Morning Joe,” on MSNBC promoting his new book (Yes, it was great as my two favorites collided.) Simmons was talking about his meeting with Isiah Thomas at a topless pool in Vegas arranged by none other than Gus Johnson. In their meeting, Thomas and Simmons found a common ground to forge a friendship based on “The Secret” to winning basketball—which is to get your team to play like a team and forget individual statistics. “The Secret” is harder in basketball than any other sport because players are paid for their performance based on their individual statistics. Therefore, to find players that are willing to forgo their individual numbers for winning becomes very difficult.

How does “The Secret” apply to Vince Young? Well, for one, Vince in Era number one was never loved or respected by his teammates for his overall work ethic as it relates to the game, or his own preparation. Vince always relied on his talent and could make enough plays to win the game—but that was in college. Now in the pros, being prepared, being responsible and being accountable is what makes a difference. Let’s hope the Vince in Era two knows “The Secret.”

In the last year, Young has been able to watch Kerry Collins be the leader and hopefully he has learned from the experience. Based on Justin Gage, it appears he has won over at least some of the team. “Just seeing how hard he hit the offseason, training camp,” the receiver noted. “He has been working hard to this point. (Last year) was a chance for him to sit back and learn the game for a year. He has done that and I feel like he is ready to go out there and show what he can do.”

For the Titans to once again be a playoff competing team they need their quarterback to be the man, the leader, the one player teammates admire for his preparation, his commitment, his acceptance of responsibility and his work ethic. It always helps when the team assumes the personality of the quarterback. And when the quarterback is your hardest worker, your toughest player and your most prepared player, the team will follow. There have been times when teams have had good quarterbacks who were not good leaders, but building a team around that kind of player is a difficult challenge. Teams normally gain their personality from their head coach and quarterback.

Young needs to embrace the moment in Era two, work hard and give it everything he has—off the field. Nothing is going to go perfect on the field, but “The Secret” is to make it go right off the field.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

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