There is a great debate raging on, and it has nothing to do with the upcoming political primaries. Rather, I speak of the decision as to whom should play quarterback for the Titans in 2012, or more specifically, who should start the season at the position.
A majority of fans believe that Locker is the guy. The argument is that he is the future of the team, and with Hasselbeck on the decline and in light of Locker’s efficient play last season, the franchise needs to go ahead and hand him the keys to the offense, growing pains be damned. On the other side is Team Hasselbeck. A majority of analysts seemed to have taken to this side, to go along with a more limited number of fans, arguing that his experience will be necessary to guide the team through some tough battles this season in light of what many consider to be a very difficult schedule (unless, of course, you’re the NFL; don’t get me started on that one).
While I believe that Jake Locker is the future of the franchise (and what a bright, non-Blade Runner-type future it is), I firmly believe he should not start this season, and that really does come down to a matter of scheduling.
The first four games of the season are as follows: New England, San Diego, Detroit, and Houston. New England is going to score fast and often, and the pressure is going to be on our QB to keep us in the game. Jake Locker, for all of his moments last season, has never started an NFL game in his life. Period. You can say that he transcends this fact, but such a position is based on nothing more than a minuscule sample size. Locker showed nothing but promise last year, but Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are not the team to throw a quarterback to his first time out. From then on he would have to face Rivers, Stafford, and Schaub, all of whom could be argued are top ten quarterbacks in the league.
At 37 years old, Matt Hasselbeck has seen it all. He’s been to a Super Bowl, had ups, downs, and everything in between. For everything positive about Locker, not one person out there can say how the kid will perform under pressure for the Tennessee Titans. What’s more, as we have seen countless times among the years (most recently with the 2011 Tampa Bay Buccaneers), back-to-back-to-back losses can really wear on a team’s confidence, let alone an individual player at the most highly scrutinized and criticized position in the game. Regardless of how the team performs, Hasselbeck will weather the emotional strain and provide a buoy of support for the entire team to latch on to.
This is not to say that Locker would necessarily lose these games, but there’s a huge risk. Throwing a quarterback to the wolves too early can have an effect that lasts throughout the players career. It can shake his confidence and rattle his belief in his abilities. The more sound approach would be to let Hasselbeck start and get us through that initial four game stretch. If he can guide our teams to victories, then he will have surely earned the right to remain the starter until he proves otherwise. Statistics are great, but often times it is the responsibility to carry the team emotionally that can take the biggest toll on a quarterback. That’s why Matt Hasselbeck deserves to start the season at quarterback for the Tennessee Titans.
Follow me on Twitter @TitanSizedJason