Young vs. Carroll: Five Years Later
On Thursday night in Seattle, for the first time since the infamous 2006 Rose Bowl, Pete Carroll and Vince Young will step on the same field. Unlike the National Championship Game on college football's biggest stage, tomorrow's match-up is between a pair of 4-7 teams destined to fight for draft positioning and jobs over the next five weeks.
Mathematically, of course, both teams are still alive for the playoffs. In reality, this game will is between teams going nowhere fast.
The past, present, and future of Seattle's head coach and Philadelphia's current quarterback is an interesting subplot, though.
Carroll, second year Seahawks coach, is in the midst of trying to completely overhaul the team. Seattle convinced him to jump ship from collegiate power USC prior to last season. This is Carroll's third NFL stint ('94 Jets, '97-99 Patriots) and probably his last chance to prove that he can win in the National Football League. His first year in Seattle resulted in a trip to the Divisional Round of the postseason, despite winning possibly the worst division in NFL history with a 7-9 record. His 2011 squad is sitting at 4-7, tied for third place in the NFC West. Despite the likelihood of having a worse record in year two compared to year one, Seattle actually seems to be improving under his watch. The defensive unit, Carroll's specialty, is making things difficult on almost every offense they face. The offensive is being built with big, physical offensive lineman, power backs, and big, strong receivers. A true franchise quarterback looks to be the biggest missing ingredient in Carroll putting together a consistent winner in Seattle.
Young, Eagles backup quarterback, is slated to start his third straight game for the injured Michael Vick. The former 3rd overall pick is in the midst of auditioning for a new starting gig next season after flaming out in Tennessee over the past few seasons. His first two starts have resulted in a 1-1 record, but Young hasn't shown that he's much different than he always has been. Inconsistent, poor throwing accuracy and power, and the ability to will his team to close wins in the fourth quarter of games when they are still in doubt.
It's hard to believe that nearly six full years after the best college football game I have ever watched, we sit here on the eve of a totally irrelevant NFL Network Thursday night game. Carroll never had a team again at USC like the one that took the field that night at the Rose Bowl. Young never came close to achieving the success he had as a Texas Longhorn. Both are now in the midst of trying to recreate themselves as something new on a different level.
While the broadcast might spend time talking about Tavaris Jackson as the Seattle quarterback, Andy Reid's job security, and how the winner of this game is still in the playoff race, I'll be wishing we were back in early January of 2006 when Carroll and Young were at the top of their games.