This weeks edition of The Guest Spot comes courtesy of Chris Garete. You can follow him on Twitter @cjg6710
This is a response to an article posted last week on The Guest Spot by Michael Campbell. You can view that article here.
Why Jake Locker Starts Week 1
An enormous problem for teams in the NFL is knowing when to pass the torch and anoint a new starting quarter back. Often times, teams change quarterbacks mid-season due to the fact that they have a poor record. (Last year see: Minnesota, Denver, Washington) The thinking in this is once the team is out of the playoff hunt, you see what the young QB is capable of and try to win a few games along the way. Unlike Cincinnati and Carolina, the Titans were not forced to use Locker in a season where there was a new coaching staff and no offseason training camp. Locker was able to sit back and watch from the sidelines as Matt Hasselbeck ran the offense. Locker undoubtedly learned a ton and has much more to learn, but I believe it’s time for that learning to take place on the field against actual NFL teams and defenses. This year I believe Jake should start right out instead of waiting until we are 1-3 or worse and the season is all but over.
It is no secret to anyone who watches football that the Titans have a brutal four game stretch to open the 2013 season. The Patriots, Chargers, Lions, and Texans all are established teams that have extremely good chances of making the playoffs and making a deep run in them. It is easy to see that there is a great chance of the Titans going 1-3 or 0-4 to start the season. I believe however, that Locker gives the Titans the best chance to win games against these four teams, and to possibly come out 2-2 if not better. This is due to two major factors: there is very little NFL tape on Jake, so other teams will have trouble preparing for what he can and can’t do, and these teams all have a common weakness in that they have below average secondaries.
Teams typically start tailoring their defensive schemes to their opponents in the schedule, and the unpredictability of a Locker run offense will have those defenses start off playing conservative. The Patriots would do what any normal team would do and come into the game invested heavily in defending the run. That would severely open up the pass game, and anyone who watches the Patriots knows they had the worst secondary in the league last year. Jake and his cannon arm would be able to take shots down the field all day, and with the receiving core of Britt, Wright, Washington, and Cook you have to believe he would be connecting on quite a few passes. This combined with a few timely defensive stops might allow the Titans to keep a few of these games close and winnable if some calls and luck go their way.
Matt simply doesn’t have the arm Locker does, and his intermediate pass game would be less successful in exploiting their big weakness. Also, there is a ton of film on Matt and the Patriots and other teams will be able to tailor their defense on how to stop his tendencies in the pass game. Starting Locker gives the Titans unpredictability, and in football, there is no better thing to have. The combination of his arm and running ability, plus the fact that his tendencies and abilities are relatively unknown, give the Titans a small chance of upsetting one of these teams, especially if the Titans can catch them off guard. The drafting of Kendall Wright shows a commitment from the Front Office to throw the ball more, so we might as well come out firing it as hard and as far as we can.
To me, there is no downside in starting Jake. Even if he goes 0-4, most analysts would argue that they were going to go 0-4 regardless of who was under center, which is why I argue for upside instead of consistency that Matt would bring. The Titans are going to need explosive plays to keep up with these teams and Matt just doesn’t bring that. The Titans may strike out, but with not much to lose they might as well swing for the fences.
I don’t think Jake’s ego will be hurt if the worst case scenario ensues. A certain QB who wears the number 18 and recently left the division threw 26 INTs (a current NFL record) as a rookie and went on to be one of the greatest of all time. Jake will be expected to make mistakes and I don’t think losing four games would have him contemplating retirement. No team goes 19-0 every year, and every QB has to handle losses in their careers.
If the Titans had made the decision to start different quarterbacks over the past few years, we would have seen a few more playoff experiences. We all remember Kerry Collins futile 0-6 start and then Vince Young’s late season 8-2 surge to leave the team at 8-8 and one win shy of the playoffs. Last year the team finished 9-7. Had Locker started the Colts game instead of a hobbling Hasselbeck, the Titans would have finished 10-6 and made the playoffs over the Bengals. If the team is serious about choosing the quarterback who gives them the best chance to win, the choice is obvious: Jake Locker. I’m sick of the too little, too late scenario that has occurred the last few years. For once let’s come out of the gate fast and surprise the entire league with a passing assault no one is prepared for.
Even if it fails, would Matt really have done much better?
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