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Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Collins tops Edwards in backup battle

By Paul Kuharsky

Kerry Collins
Kerry Collins replaced injured starter Vince Young and passed for 110 yards and a touchdown.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Hours before kickoff at EverBank Stadium on Monday night, Titans offensive linemen found themselves in one of a million time-passing situations they’ll share this season.

They talked of how fortunate the team was to have a veteran backup quarterback like Kerry Collins.

“Knowing you have a veteran like that, God forbid anything happens, but you’re in really good hands, there is no drop-off or anything,” Tennessee left tackle Michael Roos said. “You just really trust him, have that rapport in the huddle, know he’s going to take control and lead us.

“Hopefully it wasn’t foreshadowing for Vince’s sake.”

But Vince Young did go down in the first quarter, Collins did get the call and Roos and the linemen proved prescient as the Titans routed the Jaguars 30-3.

In a league where the quarterback pool is treacherously shallow, it was a night when both teams needed to turn to their reserve. The Titans showed themselves to be two-deep, while the Jacksonville Jaguars looked to be no-deep.

Young and Collins combined for two touchdowns, no picks, no sacks and a 123.3 passer rating. The Jaguars' David Garrard, who was knocked out of the game with a concussion, and Trent Edwards combined for no touchdowns, three interceptions, two sacks and a 37.8 rating.

Collins entered the game facing the sort of situation where most teams would have called for a run and settled for a punt. But on a third-and-12 from his own 18-yard line, Collins dropped back and found rookie receiver Damian Williams for a 20-yard gain on the left side.

“It pays to have a great backup quarterback, and Kerry Collins is proof of that,” Titans nickelback Vincent Fuller said. “The first play said it all, VY gets injured, Kerry comes in third-and-long and converts right off the bat.

“We’re just glad that our situation is a lot better than theirs.”

Edwards said he couldn’t forecast what’s ahead for Garrard but that he needs to be ready to play in Kansas City next week if called on.

Collins is 37 and in his 16th year. He moved past Hall of Famer Dan Fouts for 10th on the all-time completions list with 3,307.

He is hot and cold, and when he’s cold, it can be ugly. Although he still garners some support as a better option among some players and coaches on the Titans, the overriding opinion is that the team needs to ride Young and see what it has as the franchise looks ahead rather than relying on an immobile greybeard.

It’s the right thinking. I believe these Titans need to decide on Young by the time this season is over and extend him beyond the final year of his contract in 2011 or move on and piece together a plan.

Trent Edwards
Trent Edwards replaced injured starter David Garrard and struggled for the most part. He completed 14 of 24 passes for 140 yards with two interceptions and a passer rating of 40.3.
He’s played pretty well this season. But the consistent, drama-free season he really needs doesn’t appear to be materializing. He had issues with meetings before his terrible performance in the loss to Pittsburgh, which led to heavily debated but much-deserved criticism.

Although he was unlucky to get bent awkwardly back on his left knee by the Jaguars, he wouldn’t have been in a susceptible position had he cleanly fielded the snap and backed out from under center.

There will not be, or certainly shouldn’t be, calls for Collins to replace a healthy Young. But he’ll need tests after getting back to Nashville, there is no indication of what the timetable will be and coach Jeff Fisher surprisingly didn’t tell us after the game that Young is a fast healer.

Young has a knee sprain and an ankle injury and said initially he feared his season was over. He was on his feet for most of the rest of the game.

Collins benefited from coming into the game with the Titans already ahead.

“The first team that got up, the other team was going to have a hard time trying to catch up,” Titans linebacker Stephen Tulloch said. “They had a hard time trying to catch up once we got up on them.”

Even if this is the only big contribution Collins makes this season, look at the value of a veteran backup able to step in with no first-team practice reps and produce as compared to one searching for consistency.

After the game, as they searched for positives, some reporters in the Jaguars' locker room asked Edwards about having driven his team into the red zone on the first two possessions he managed, possessions that yielded the shutout-preventing field goal and an end zone interception by Fuller.

“I was put in the same situation [Collins] was and he operated their offense pretty well,” Edwards said. “He’s been in that offense for a little bit longer than I have this offense and he was throwing the ball around and making great plays.

“And that’s what you need to be at this level in this league in that position.”

After he led the Titans to a 13-3 record and the AFC's No. 1 seed in 2008 when Young was demoted, Collins signed a two-year, $15 million deal before last season. Then he was benched after the Titans’ 0-6 start.

He’s making good money to run a scout team and be an in-case-of-emergency guy. He’s surely a guy who would provide a preferable alternative to the backup on a vast majority of teams. I’d take him over at least a half-dozen starters.

“The Titans, Philly, there are a few,” Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis said. “Not too many where you have your second guy come in and be as productive as your first. It’s definitely a luxury.”

Collins concedes his pride allows for him to flip by a game once in awhile where he thinks he’s good enough to start not just for one team, but both.

“My ego says, ‘Yes, I’ve still got it, I could still start,'” he said. “I don’t sit and say, ‘That guy sucks.’ But I try to put myself in a situation where I can be successful and I look at things sometimes, and I’d like to think I can do a better job than some guys. But every player is like that.”