Heading into the third pre-season game of 2012, the Titans were hoping for better offensive production then they had shown the previous week against Tampa Bay. Would naming Jake Locker the starter for the season earlier in the week help or hurt?
In the words of my four year old son…..WOSA SAMOLA!!!!! I don’t know where it comes from but I know it basically means, Hell Yeah, or Greatness or Damn Dad…..That was awesome!!!! While watching Jake Locker against the Cardinals he repeatedly said, WOSA SAMOLA while watching the future of the Tennessee Titans franchise carve up the Cards D. I was right there with him loving what I was seeing.
Let’s go over some offensive nuggets from the game.
Quarterback- Jake Locker was obviously happy to have the Titans starting QB controversy behind him. He was obviously more comfortable at LP field. Locker rolled into the game and threw for a 124 yards and two touchdown passes. The first TD pass was a beautiful back shoulder throw to rookie Kendall Wright from the 10 yard line. That pass was simply beautiful. The coordination it took to catch it and precision it took to make that play were greatness. Locker mentioned that earlier in the week, he and Kendall had talked about doing that if it looked like it was open. It was and they did, and Jake Locker got his first TD pass as the starter of the Tennessee Titans. The 2nd was to a crossing Nate Washington that went for 28 yards. This was part of an 80 yard drive that saw Jake scramble twice for 11 yards.
It wasn’t all glitz and glamour as Locker overthrew more than a few receivers and only completed 11-20 passes. However he threw for 134 yards on those 11 completions. He also had a 29 and a 35 yard completion. The 35 yarder was a nice pump fake against quarters defense that saw him overthrow TE Jared Cook on a vertical route. Luckily Cookie went up and was able to make the catch on the left sideline.
Although Locker is raw, the talent is undeniable and unlike Vince Young, our last QB of the future, Locker is a hard worker with zero diva in him. The passes he’s having trouble completing will become easier the more he plays and the more he throws. One thing I really like also is that the ball just flies out of his hand. You won’t hear about a lack of arm strength with Locker. There will be inconsistencies though. We saw it the other night, one great throw, one poor throw. That’s the nature of the beast.
Running backs- Well let’s see, one bad game, one good game, one bad game. That’s the way it has gone for Chris Johnson this pre-season. I won’t sit here and say that he’s lost a step, he obviously can’y play anymore or he’s taking plays off. I think what we saw against the Cardinals is what we’ll see from alot of teams that we play this year. They’ll try and stop the run and make Locker beat them. When this happens, Chris Johnson will certainly be rendered less effective, at least in the running game. On Thursday night Johnson didn’t have many running lanes at all and was pulled on third downs in favor of Javon Ringer. I’ll go ahead and put this out there, I don’t like Johnson not being an every down back that needs a rest every now and then. Maybe Palmer just switched it up for the Cardinals.
Receivers- The Titans suffered their biggest loss of the season when Marc Mariani broke both of the bones in his left leg on a punt return. He underwent surgery last week and will be lost for the season. The Titans receivers continue to look impressive during the pre-season. Nate Washington and Kendall Wright look very quick and seem to have the confidence of Locker that is needed. Wright, for a rookie continues to shine as he caught four balls for 44 yards on five targets. Craig Stevens will make one catch a game maybe, but its always important and usually for a first down. Jared Cook had the beautiful 35 yard catch from Locker that probably would have been a TD if it was on target.
Offensive Line- I’m a glass is half full kind of guy so I’m going to say that in pass protection the O-line really doesn’t look that bad at all. In the running game however, the O-line is lacking a ton of continuity. Working together in the running game is essential on the O-line and it just isn’t happening right now. I’m not going to call anybody a weak link right now or point anybody out because I believe as a whole, the line isn’t playing that well. I’ve seen blocks missed by everyone along the line and they are just not in sync with one another.
WOSA SAMOLA my friends!!!! Yes, that’s me getting excited. Although I felt the game plan was pretty simple and predictable, it was the pre-season and most teams don’t really show everything they have so I won’t get too worked about the simplicities seen in the offense. Now what I can glean from watching Jake Locker in his first start is that this offense is going to be fun to watch. He may not be the most accurate but he will throw for more yards on fewer completions. Once we start running the ball more out of spread looks and being successful this offense will start humming. The potential is there for this offense to be really good. I will be happy once the regular season starts so we can really see the wrinkles implemented in the new offense Locker.
What say you.
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