Billy Volek's patience has paid off. He spent his first three years in the NFL as the Tennessee Titans 3rd string emergency quarterback. He was promoted to Steve McNair's backup after the Titans released Neil O'Donnell. He turned a contract offer to start at Buffalo and opted to remain the Titans backup quarterback. Now, at the start of his seventh year in the NFL, he is the Titans starting quarterback after yesterday's McNair trade, but is by default?
McNair's trade to the Baltimore Ravens opens the door for Volek, but there are those who think he is not worthy and 1st round pick Vince Young should start. RealFootball365 said last month that 2006 is Volek's year to shine. There is no doubt Young is the future of the Titans, but why throw him to the wolves as a rookie when they have a very talented and capable veteran in Volek. Kerry Collins has been rumored as a possible free agent the Titans are interested in signing to compete with Volek. Rotowire sums it up the best:
With QB Steve McNair now officially a Raven after passing a physical exam Thursday, Volek steps in as the starter for the upcoming season. While he has shown ability in the past, he will only remain the starter until rookie Vince Young is ready to take the helm. "How things are going to fall right now, I can't be specific, but I can say that Billy is going to line up as our starter," head coach Jeff Fisher told the Tennessean. "He inherits the role now, and we are getting Vince ready to play as quickly as we can."
Volek, who has good deep-ball skills and seems to share a brain with WR Drew Bennett, could put up decent numbers. But don't count on more than half a season or so from him, as the Titans are itching to see Young take the field.
Titan's General Manager Floyd Reese concedes the starting job to Volek. However, he is excited about Young's future and doesn't exactly sound confident Volek will be the game one starter:
Billy Volek's our starter as of today. Billy has been wanting to start. This is going to be a great opportunity for Billy. Billy has got some big shoes to step into, and this is a golden opportunity for him. I'm excited to see him. As I've said before, I think we've got the most exciting young quarterback[Young] to come out of college in the last few years. To see him come along is going to be very, very exciting. Where that ends up, I don't think anybody knows. Does it end up with him playing a little bit? Does it end up with him not playing at all? That'll be up to Jeff and Norm and the coaches. But history tells us it's not too often those young guys come in and play and win a lot of games.
Head coach Jeff Fisher doesn't sound like he is too confident in Volek either. He sounds like the team is desperately looking for a veteran quarterback to help fill McNair's void:
Billy is our starter. Of course we're dealing with this hypothetically. We're all about making this team better, improving every position and creating competition in every position. If somebody is out there that we think is going to create competition at this position and make it better, then we're going to make every effort to get something done there. As it is right now, we think Billy has the best feel for the system and he's now in his second season of Coach Chow's system and he's going to give us our best chance to win. If somebody happens to be available over the next month or two or what have you and we feel like that he can compete and make the position competitive, we're going to jump on it for the competitive situation.
But neither of these two are harsh as the FootballInsiders:
For next year, the Titans now have a decision to make about adding a veteran to compete with Billy Volek. The conclusion of the McNair situation at least brings closure before their last mini-camp. Volek is a solid back-up, but his successful 2004 season was a mirage. He posted excellent traditional stats by feasting on weak defenses. But he had a DVOA of -10.2%, ranking him as a replacement-level quarterback -- which makes sense, because that's what Volek is.
The football insiders are reknowned for their detail stats and immense research. In other words they know their shit. For those wondering what the DVOA is:
The majority of the ratings featured on FootballOutsiders.com are based on DVOA, or Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. This stat breaks down the NFL season play by play to see how much success offensive players achieved in each specific situation compared to the league average. FootballInsiders Method of Madness
Volek is as good as any of the veteran free agent quarterbacks available. Tennessee would be smart to start Volek in 2006. If he fails, no one will doubt the early play of Young. And if Young fails, he is just a rookie and he is not expected to succeed his first year. But on the other hand, if Volek has a stellar year, a la Drew Brees 2004, his trade value goes up. Tennessee would be in a win-win situation, having two starting quarterbacks with great trade value heading into the off season. Young would seasoned and ready to start in 2007 and Volek becomes expendable but with high trade value to a team in dire need of a veteran quarterback.