Sunday, September 23, 2007

i'm a movement by myself

OK first, not to get all Uni Watch on yall but the choice of throwbacks this season is nanners. The 'Lers rocked some off-kilter threads in week 2, no doubt. But the Eagles' entirely new/old colorway today was really bizarre. If I'm San Diego, I am a bit salty about someone else in the NFL rocking powder blue and yellow. I'm digging the yellow-intensive Washington gear though.

Anyways, I want to visit (revisit?) the Vince Young paradigm for a moment. Through a series of conversations, Shoals and I have been hammering out exactly what makes Young different/new to the position of quarterback. It's not just improvisation and independence, as many have pointed out. Favre and Manning are both great quarterbacks who basically run their teams from the field, to name a couple of obvious exceptions.

But Manning is, as westney put it, a nerd. I used to constantly lose hands at the poker table to a friend of mine whose power was his total knowledge of the game. He knew what chances to take better than any of us, and his knowledge of when it was smart to play the deceptively bad J8 suited (aka "hey I've got a face card!"), and when it wasn't always trumped our fucking terrible instincts. His confidence was entirely material, rooted in a secure awareness of his edge. And that is Peyton Manning. He doesn't call off punt teams because of his big ol' nuts, he calls off punt teams because he already knows how to score.

Favre, on the other hand, does run on pure confidence, but it's not an amicable "I GOT THIS". Favre is a gritty do-it-yourselfer. A cowboy, or McGyver. Or your average suburban dad trying to fix a piece of electronics he has no hope of understanding. (Green Bay: how does it feel to have Ray Romano as your quarterback?) There's something humble to Favre, something very utilitarian and utterly American. As an American man, you don't ask for help, you get the job done with the tools you are given (or--say it with me--the army you have). So he embodies a sort of lack of options, which his talent allows him to overcome. He prepares to overachieve because it is inevitable that somebody will not live up to expectations.

But Vince Young's parade of opportunistic 8 yard passes and magical 62 yard runs, all behind a joke of an offensive line, is something different. Young really is doing it mostly on his own. Routes are run, blocks are applied, but that's about it. Young only passes because it is impossible to not do so. If he had his way, he would run on his own on every down. He does the bare minimum required for team play, and that's it. It makes for exciting, ridiculous football and dude is a joy to watch, but Vince Young is playing an entirely different game than everyone else on the field.

Let me repeat it: Young is the football extension of a generation of self-starting rappers (especially in Houston) whose repeated declarations that they are the truth and a movement become self-fulfilling prophecies. Houston rappers have watched so much bullshit blow up from afar, while local artists regularly went almost platinum in Texas alone that conventional wisdom no longer applies. You can't really tell Paul Wall shit because he is a cheesy-looking white dude with bad punchlines about diamonds who sold a million albums. None of that computes, so why would anything? Similarly, you really can't be a one-man-team in football, but Vince Young is doing it. IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING.

As a final note, I need to say that none of these dudes are generals, in the traditional football-as-war analogy. There hasn't been one of those in at least a decade. The brainpower has fully migrated off the field. Good qb's can handle their troops when they have to, but the best strategizing occurs on the sidelines or in the booth. No matter who you put under center for Herm Edwards or Marty Schottenheimer, you will still get fatal clock management and cringe-worthy playoff losses.

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