Not Going with the Flow

Thanks to a recent deal between the NFL and Direct TV, I’m going to lose my NFL Network connection. At least I get it through the draft. While I was not the least bit compelled by their 24-hour coverage of Cutlergate, I did turn on the channel this morning and get a nice dose of nostalgia.

Lists are cheap programming on cable TV. My wife and I watched almost three hours of “the top 100 one-hit wonders from the 80s” last week. The NFL Network has tons of these “top ten” shows. I turned on the TV this morning in time to see Eddie George’s 216-yard performance in the Memphis debut of the Oilers. Most Titan fans remember George’s stumbling performance near the end of his career. Few look back and remember when he was a battering ram.

The same goes for Vincent Paul Young Junior. The Titans were considered a suitor for Jay Cutler, who went eight picks after Young in the 2006 draft. If you compare the numbers, Cutler’s the obvious pick by far. I would take today’s Cutler over Young, but it’s not the landslide you’d think.

Take Young’s rookie year. Count the astounding performances he had that season. His overtime TD run against the Texans. His mad scramble at the half in Buffalo, and the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. The 21-point rally against the Giants. These are the kind of performances you see over the career of an all-timer.

How many such moments does Cutler have? In last year’s 39-38 win over the Chargers, he fumbled the ball, famously called an incomplete pass by Ed Hochuli, before delivering the game-winning score. He pulled off a few good victories in college, but was unable to beat Kentucky or Middle Tennessee State. A win in either game would have earned the Commodores a bowl berth.

Bears fans have every right to be excited about Cutler. The franchise paid a price equivalent to what people think Cutler should be, not necessarily who he is yet.

If you look at what the Bears have at wideout, it’s a collection of stiffs nearly as impressive as that Young had to play with in his rookie year. It’s likely that Young will never reach the heights of his rookie year. That was a tough standard to reach. I wouldn’t call him responsible for team success, but the Titans have been to two playoff games in his career, while Cutler hasn’t made the dance yet.

Maybe I will pull my Young jersey out of retirement. If someone gives me crap, I’ll reply “this is for 2006”. Until the Titans win a title, it will be hard to beat the season where the team pulled itself out of last place and made the impossible possible.

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