With Jake Locker starting at QB, CJ2K has had the worst start to a season than he has ever had. Unfortunately for Chris Johnson, when Jake Locker steps back into the starting role in a couple of weeks he could be looking at more declining numbers.
Why is this so important, CJ just re-signed before last season. Well, he’s owed a nine million dollar option right before the start of next season and you can bet that with the penny pinching the Titans do as an organization they’re not going to pick up that option.
So what exactly does Jake Locker have to do with CJ2K’s horrid rushing numbers? Me thinks alot. Let’s compare his numbers with Locker playing and then with Hasselbeck playing. With Locker starting, CJ had 33 rushes for 44 yards, for a whopping .73 yards a carry. So, three games started and finished (I count the Pats game because he basically played the whole game) by Locker produced an average of 11 rushes a game and 15 yards a game by CJ.
With Hasselbeck basically playing the entire game against Houston and then starting against the Vikings and Steelers let’s see what CJ’s numbers looked like. In those three games CJ has had 59 carries for 256 yards for an average of 4.3 yards a carry. In the three games Hasselbeck has started or played the majority of the game, CJ has averaged 20 carries and 85 yards rushing a game.
Let me also point out that the Titans first six opponents are all in the top 14 in rush defense.
Why are CJ’s numbers so much better with Hasselbeck starting or playing a majority of the game? I think there a number of reasons.
1.) Teams are more willing to load up against the run and make Jake Locker beat them with the pass. Most people knew coming into the season that we would have some rough days breaking in a new QB in a new offense.
2.) Locker simply lacks the knowledge of knowing how to read defenses right now. Hasselbeck has seen every defense in the NFL more than a few times. It’s going to be hard to fool him. Locker however, is basically a rookie, he started his first game this year and there are things that take him awhile to diagnose. Case in point, the blitz that got Locker knocked out of the game with a seperated shoulder might not have happened with Hasselbeck under center.
3.) Hasselbeck simply has a better command of the entire system. From plays that are being called to audibles used to counter what the defense is doing. Its fine if you can look at the defense and check into a running play, but are you checking into the right running play? More than a few times Locker simply audibled into the wrong play and left CJ hanging out to dry. Of course he wasn’t trying to, he just needs time to learn these things.
Unfortunately for Chris Johnson, he happens to be the running back on a team with basically a rookie QB and the OC is not feeding him the ball or devising a game plan that will take advantage of Johnson’s skill set. The fact that the Titans owe CJ a nine million dollar bonus at the beginning of next season all but seals his fate.
Jake Locker is slowly developing into a good QB, but he still has a lot to learn and playing in games and gaining experience is the only thing that can help. With him slowly developing it may just cost CJ his job.
What say you?
You can follow me on twitter @RS1Eagle