Is Vince Young good? No, probably not. Neither is Ryan Fitzpatrick though. Fitzpatrick is so strongly mediocre without a single point of actual strength that he’s one of the most worthless quarterbacks in the league. He’s not terrible enough to tank with and he’s not good enough to be carried by anything less than elite supporting casts. He’s good for your fantasy wide receiver that he focus fires on and nothing else.
So let’s talk about Vince Young first and his NFL career and only focus on measurable things. I really have no idea what the situation between Fisher and Young was behind the scenes, and I don’t really care. I’m also more than willing to blame it on Fisher, who exposed and re-exposed his mediocrity over two decades.
Supporting cast matters. Outside of elite quarterbacks, everyone should agree by now that playing with a bad team makes you worse. Sometimes it makes you significantly, unplayably worse. The better your wide receivers are, the better your production and efficiency. Add a good offensive line onto that, production and efficiency continue increasing. What the effects of each are on a player are up for debate (and should be researched), but I bet on pass catchers being more important than the line. Having better offensive players increases your completion percentage, the offenses total touchdowns, and yardage; and so on. It just makes sense. Players who don’t separate, can’t run routes, and aren’t athletic force a margin of error onto QBs that are only consistently hit by the elite.
That’s Vince Young’s career. Despite a solid starting record throughout (which is unfair to fully attribute to a QB), there’s a giant efficiency difference between his first two seasons and his last two in Tennessee. Those are the only four seasons he’s had extended starter time and that’s what we’re going to focus on.
That’s Vince Young’s team in his first year. There’s a single thousand receiving yard season between all of these players. Not the environment for prolific passing production. Drew Bennett was a converted college quarterback who had an average season for his career with a rookie Young. He owns the only thousand yard season of the group, gained two years prior. Bobby Wade was a capable college receiver who was coming off three straight sub-500 yardage years and would never surpass 700 in a season. Brandon Jones incapable of ever putting up 800 yards even going back to college. It’s not a good team.
Year two is no better. The top two receivers get replaced. Justin Gage and Roydell Williams are two new starters that struggle to have NFL careers before and after playing with Vince Young. Eric Moulds is the only worthwhile player on this passing offense. But he’s already 34 and coming off a massively regressive penultimate year. This will be his final season.
In 2008, Young was injured and replaced with Kerry Collins. Collins would put up nearly the same efficiencies as Vince Young in completion percentage and yards per attempt, but drastically improved on Young’s interception rate and sack rate. Meaning the offenses issues of being incapable of scoring and moving were systematic to the roster (or coach, if you’re into that logic), but Vince Young still had issues of his own.
In 2009, the Titans draft Kenny Britt and add Nate Washington. Let’s look at the difference when Vince Young is playing with a more average cast:
From 2006-2007, 28 games:
- 739 Attempts
- 57.1% Completion
- 21 Touchdowns at 2.8 TD%
- 30 Interceptions at 4.1 INT%
- 6.4 YPA
- 50 Sacks at 6.3 Sack%
From 2009-2010, 18 games
- 415 Attempts
- 59.0% Completion
- 20 Touchdowns at 4.8 TD%
- 10 Interceptions at 2.4 INT%
- 7.6 YPA
- 22 Sacks at 5.0 Sack%
How good are these efficiencies? Here’s where they rank amongst the last 5 years of quarterbacking (in percentiles, that means higher the better):
- Completion % – 19th
- TD Rate – 57th
- YPA – 72nd
- Interception Rate – 49th
- Sack Rate – 68th
You see what kind of quarterback Vince Young is here and it’s nearly the same quarterback he was at Texas. Not very accurate, but still getting a lot out of each attempt. Average at ball security, but can at least keep the offense moving forward. A low-end starting quality QB, with added rushing ability that affects linebackers and improves the general interior rushing game as a result.
Outside of those two seasons, Young played 4 total games, one in Tennessee and three in Philadelphia. He wasn’t good in Philadelphia, despite playing with a strong cast. But as18 games is already a small sample size, 3 games is significantly smaller; especially for a player that wasn’t even the full-time starter. I don’t care about it. I don’t know how someone would argue those 3 games are worth more than his previous 18 either.
Ryan Fitzpatrick played on some bad Buffalo offenses for most of his career, but none were as bad as Young’s offenses were in his first two years. Regardless, here’s what we get for Ryan’s years alongside Young’s best time:
From 2009-2010, 20 games:
- 668 Attempts
- 57.2% Completion
- 32 Touchdowns at 4.8 TD%
- 25 Interceptions at 3.7 INT%
- 6.6 YPA
- 45 Sacks at 6.3 Sack%
Fitzpatrick, parallel to Young’s final two seasons as Tennessee’s starter is significantly worse of a player. A less efficient passer, more prone to being intercepted or sacked, and as inaccurate. He plays the 2008 season with Terrell Owens (Owens is significantly better next season, after leaving Fitzpatrick) and another season with the cast he’d become more known for playing with that featured Steve Johnson. Neither cast is good. They’re worse than Young’s better casts with the Titans but better than Young’s worst cast with the Titans. These numbers keep him employed.
What about him with his latter year high-end casts with the Texans and Jets?
From 2014 to 2016, Fitzpatrick played on extremely above average casts made of DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson on one team and then Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, and Quincy Enunwa on another. In 2016 he played mostly with Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa on the outside, a team much closer to the Britt/Washington combination that Young had than any of the other Fitzpatrick seasons.
2014 to 2016, 39 Games:
- 1277 Attempts
- 59.5% Completion
- 60 Touchdowns at 4.7 TD%
- 40 Interceptions at 3.1 INT%
- 7.1 YPA
- 59 Sacks at 4.4 Sack%
Those numbers would rank at (in percentiles):
- Completion % – 22nd
- TD Rate – 43rd
- YPA – 56th
- Interception Rate – 23rd
- Sack Rate – 80th
You can see what kind of player Fitzpatrick is through these numbers when a lot of the stress is taken off his shoulders just like for Young. He’s inaccurate, average at moving the ball, prone to abruptly ending drives with interceptions- but good at avoiding sacks.
Finally, let’s look at the most boring part of all this- both quarterbacks career numbers.
|Ryan Fitzpatrick||Vince Young|
Fitzpatrick, having played with better teams than the majority of ones Young started, put him only slightly above Young in all categories other than touchdown percentage. But you already know offensive quality is a massive impact on touchdown percentage. Young, spending 28 out of his total 50 starts on those horrendous rosters is having them weigh far more on his career; just as Fitzpatricks below average casts with the Bills (53 out of 116 starts) weigh heavily on his career.
You Wasted A Lot of Time Making Me Read All This
Here’s what you should get out of all this:
Supporting cast matters a lot and Ryan Fitzpatrick was never worth surrounding with talent at any point in his career. On average casts, he was less efficient than Vince Young with average casts. With elite casts, he improved to being only slightly less efficient than Vince Young with average casts. Young may have tied with Fitzpatrick if he had a higher volume of passes though, but it isn’t a given nor would tying Fitzpatrick mean Young wasn’t good enough to be in the league.
Really, this should’ve been obvious from Fitzpatrick’s inability to put up productive seasons in the Ivy League (his best year was 2000 yards and 13 touchdowns to 6 interceptions) while Young was dominating the Big 12 with Texas in his junior year. Would’ve Young been good with elite receiving talent like the Texans 2014 or Jets 2015? Who knows, who cares.
But he had more reason to be in the league than the perennially mediocre Ryan Fitzpatrick.