As you may have heard recently (and you should; you’re Titan Sized readers), Jake Locker has been named the starter for the 2012 season by Coach Mike Munchak, and will start the remaining two preseason games, as well as a number of games for the foreseeable future. While many are ecstatic that the young guy finally gets to take the reigns, just as many people question the timing of the decision. After all, the announcement was made mere days after Locker coming off of his first pre-season start that saw him complete 4 of 11 passes for 21 yards and an INT.
There are a number of theories floating about right now. One argument is that given that Matt Haselbeck and Jake Locker have struggled pretty equally in the pre-season, the franchise may as well go ahead and hand the keys to the second-year player and let him start the development process. Another states that there never really was a true competition in the first place, and that the franchise was merely putting on a show of sorts. I would argue, however, that the real reason is Chris Johnson.
This is not to suggest that Chris Johnson has been lobbying on behalf of Jake Locker, but rather has to with his seeming re-emergence this season. You see, last year the offense struggled mightily in the face of youth, an offensive line that couldn’t run block, the absence of Kenny Britt, and a running back that ran with half of the skill, speed, and strength that he had shown since his arrival in the league. Through it all, Matt Hasselbeck was looked upon to carry the team on his back, as without him, the team would have no doubt been unable to tolerate all that they had going against them last year. To start Locker last year would have been disservice to all involved, and possibly created an uncertainty in the quarterback that would carry throughout the season and potentially his career.
What we have seen the first two games is the Chris Johnson of old; CJ2K if you will. He has ran hard and ran strong, while showing the same extra gear that enables him to distance himself from others the longer a play develops. He made decisive cuts, and quick reads, generally looking like the back that two years ago deserved a guaranteed $35 million extension. With Chris Johnson exceeding reduced expectations stemming from last year, the coaching staff can feel secure that if Locker struggles, they can depend on CJ to carry them through the rough patches. So while he may not have been scheduling meetings with Bud Adams, you can be assured that Chris Johnson is definitely a huge factor in Jake Locker being named the starting quarterback.
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