July 30, 2011; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck , quarterback Jake Locker (10) , quarterback Brett Ratliff (5) and quarterback Rusty Smith (11) during Titans training camp at Baptist Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE

Tennessee Titans' Quarterback Battle: The Deciding Factors

How does one go about deciding which of these two quarterbacks is going to lead the Tennessee Titans in 2012?  What criterion does one use?  Is there a secret formula that can answer this question, once and for all?

Yes.  Yes there is.  And to make matters even better, I have in my possession, the previously mentioned secret formula.  It’s all a bit complicated, so I’ll do my best to boil it down to its most simple explanation:  The starting QB for the Titans in 2012 will be decided by three factors:  Acumen, “IT” factor, and Machismo, or A.I.M. for short.  So, how do Hasselbeck and Locker measure up to the all-knowing A.I.M. system?  We’ll break it down one section at a time and by the end of this article, we will all know who takes the first snap for the Tennessee Titans against the New England Patriots on September 9th.

Acumen.  Merriam-Webster defines acumen as “keenness and depth of perception, discernment, or discrimination especially in practical matters.”  This is all about decision-making.  Which of these two QB’s do the coaches trust to make the right choice more often?  Which QB will be likely to make mistakes?  I think the clear nod here goes to Matt Hasselbeck.  That’s no knock on Locker; it’s simply a matter of Hasselbeck having years of NFL experience and Locker having only one – and that as a back up.  If Matt Hasselbeck is known for anything, it’s his knowledge of the game.  At this point in his career, he isn’t going to beat anyone with his arm or his legs.  He is not going to be making any spectacular, game winning plays.  But on the flip side, he won’t be making many, if any, game losing plays either.  The same can’t be said for Locker.  If the team rolls the dice with Locker, then they will have to live with a good mix of amazing, heart-stopping awesomeness and amazing, heart-stopping boneheadedness.  (I don’t think boneheadedness is a word – at least my spell check didn’t approve.  I like it though, so I’m sticking with it.)  Locker will thrill everyone, but he will also have us all scratching our heads from time to time, simply due to his age and inexperience.

Verdict:  Hasselbeck

“IT” factor.  Either you have “IT” or you don’t.  You could make the argument that Hasselbeck had “IT” at one point in his career.  He did take his team, the Seattle Seahawks, to the Super Bowl.  And he has had a very good and productive career.  But I still don’t think “IT” factor when I think of Matt Hasselbeck.  When I think of number 8, I think: Steady, professional, class act, veteran.  All good words there.  All things most QB’s would be happy to be called in their 14th season.  But we aren’t looking for most QB’s.  We are looking for the next Tennessee Titans franchise quarterback.  And if Jake Locker has anything going for him at this point, it is “IT”.  Whatever “IT” is, he has it and then some.  Don’t believe me?  Just watch the game against the Saints last season.  When Locker enters a game, there is a tangible sense of excitement on offense.  The rest of the team seemed to rally around him and it wasn’t just a one-time thing.  It happened every time Locker can into a game.  Every. Single. Time.  That says something.  That says his teammates believe in him and they respond to him in a way that they don’t respond to Hasselbeck no matter how much they respect him.

Verdict: Locker

Machismo.  I have to admit, this is the vaguest of all the categories, and I don’t really know exactly how the team will evaluate the QB’s in this area.  The only way I can figure it, is that the team is taking “The face of the franchise” idea very literally.  They want someone that fans will respond to in a very physical way.  If we were to take a picture of Jake Locker and a picture of Matt Hasselbeck to a local mall and ask 100 people whom they found more attractive and manly, my guess is that Locker would win that competition quite handily.  He is younger, more rugged, and frankly, better looking that Matt Hasselbeck.  (I’m a straight heterosexual, but I have no problems admitting that Jake Locker is a good-looking man.  In fact, I have a bit of a man crush on him.  I have added him to my other man crushes: Nathan Fillion and Chris Hemsworth.)  So, it would seem that Jake Locker wins this round.  Not so fast.  While it is true that I am a straight heterosexual, I am also a bald man.  And bald men must stick together.  And Matt Hasselbeck is naturally and gloriously bald.  Not only is he bald, but he embraces his baldness.  Some might say he flaunts it.  He doesn’t shy away from it, and as a fellow bald man, that makes me proud.

Verdict: Tie

Final Verdict:  Tie
I know…this didn’t solve anything.  In fact, I think I am more confused about the quarterback situation now, than I was before I started writing this article.  Perhaps the team won’t use the time-tested and proven A.I.M. system.  Perhaps they will use game tape, practice time, training camp, statistics, and their general football knowledge to make this choice, regardless how ridiculous that is compared to the A.I.M. system.  However they decide to make this decision, I’m sure the fans will enjoy watching it all play out.  And to be honest, I don’t think they could really go wrong with either.  Hasselbeck is probably the smartest choice at this point, because of his experience and his particular set of skills, and if the team struggles early, they can always hand things over to Locker.  If you start with Locker and the team starts slow, then going to Hasselbeck could do permanent damage to Locker’s confidence.  I don’t think that is a risk the team can afford to take.   All I can say is may the best man win.

What say you?  How would you grade the guys out using the A.I.M. system?

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