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Could Jake Locker Starting Mean The End Of The CJ Era In Tennessee?

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?

Shawn Eagle

You can follow me on twitter @RS1Eagle

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Tags: CJ Jake Locker Matt Hasselbeck Tennessee Titans

  • Justin Stewart

    I disagree.

    Hasselbeck doesn’t scare anybody’s defense. No velocity on the ball and sketchy accuracy. Locker is better at both of those and though he still has some learning to do, I’ll take him any day over Hasselbeck.

    Increased sack #’s and turnovers for this offense since Hass has been in because he’s an old floppy man.

    The line was just as bad in Hass’s first game as it was in all of Locker’s games. The run games struggles have all come from the line.

    Tha’s fo real.

    • Modesto Koczwara

      Fo Sho my partner in crime!

  • Shawn Eagle

    What do you disagree with?
    Hass has lost some arm strength. Is arm strength one of the most overrated aspects of QB in the league though? Manning has a noodle arm but hes one of the best in the biz…Brady doesn’t have that strong of an arm.
    5 Turnovers when Locker played, 5 Turnovers with Hasselbeck…there has been more sacks though…Hass has been sacked 8 times, Locker only 3
    There is so much give and take that maybe they equal out. With Locker playing the offense averaged 5.73 yards a play to 5.27 when Hass plays. Total yards though for a game favors Hass at 335 to when Locker plays at 311 yards a game. 3Rd down conversion is also well in favor when Hass plays….they’ve converted 19 of 44 3rd downs, where as when Locker plays they only converted 11-35.
    I know saying anything negative about Locker almost seems like I am talking about someone’s mom, but I didn’t write the article to paint him in a bad light…I promise. I just know that its been pretty easy to see that with Hass as the QB, Johnson has had better games than when Locker is at the helm….and ultimately, due to Locker’s lack of experience, it may cost Johnson his spot on this team.
    You may say teams don’t respect Hasselbeck’s arm and that’s fine….but if they don’t respect his arm it seems natural that they would load up on the run because they don’t respect the pass.
    Well, Johnson has averaged 1.4 yards a carry with Locker as the QB. With Hass as the QB he has averaged 4 yards and has 2 100 yard games. It seems obvious that defenses respect something that Hass is doing.

  • David F.

    Manning’s “noodle arm” is much stronger than Hasselbeck’s though. Hass targeted Nate Wash 10 times against the Steelers, only completing 3. About 4 or those incompletions occurred on seam routes vs the cover 2. Hass just couldn’t get the ball down the seam to Wash, and the announcer even commented once or twice that Hass just doesn’t have much zip anymore. He has good anticipation, but that can only take you so far. With Hass in, the offense is limited, even though we may have the ability to audible a bit more at the line. I agree that Locker needs to work on reading defenses, but that really can only come with experience.

    So where does that leave us with CJ and Hass vs. CJ and Locker? I’m not so sure there’s as much a correlation as the stats would lead you to believe. Shawn’s statistics completely substantiate his point about Hass being better for CJ, but I believe it’s more about our team’s attitude, and the offensive line in particular.

    Now that their backs are against the wall, we’re seeing much more effort out of the big men, and in turn, more effort out of CJ. Linemen work harder when they believe in the RB, and no offense to CJ, but he’s neither a leader nor a motivator. He constantly blames everyone else, commenting how others need to “make plays.” Well CJ, when you were seeking a new contract, you specifically said you should be classified as a “playmaker” and not just a running back. So shut up and run the damn ball. Sorry, I just get upset when I see him stuttering and cutting instead of just running through the hole. Against the Steelers the O line opened up some cavernous lanes, and CJ could have easily sprinted through for 10-12 yards, but instead hit the hole, then delayed, gaining 5-6 yards.

    I think Locker actually helps CJ with the threat of the deep ball, even if the numbers don’t back it up yet. I just wanted to vent about CJ for a minute.

    • Justin Stewart


      We all want to vent about CJ. It’s frustrating. I think he’ll get better at hitting the hole with his line actually blocking though. He’s considerably jumpy after a year of the line doing nothing for him. Gonna take a little time for him to settle down and get that straight-line stuff going again, though we’ve still seen it happening.

    • Shawn Eagle

      It may be more about the team’s attitude but in the article I just wrote I pointed out more than a few things that show why we are better(at least right now) with Hasselbeck starting.
      It is definitely not a coincidence that CJ is better with Hasselbeck out there and if you think theis running game just opened up because their backs are against the wall then I would have to disagree with that. Nobody in their right mind would choose to start out a season 1-3 just so they can get motivated to play.
      I’ve heard this more than a few times but obviously Locker’s arm strength has done nothing to help open up any kind of holes for CJ or he would have been running the ball better.
      CJ should be more of a playmaker but touching the ball 11 times a game when Locker was starting is always going to be detrimental to playmaker status, now that he’s touching it 19 times a game his numbers have taken quite a jump.
      Once again….I do wonder though…why is talking about a Jake Locker shortcoming so Taboo for the Titans fan…..its been a long time since I’ve seen so many ruffled feathers when someone talks about one player.

      • Justin Stewart

        Our feathers aren’t getting ruffled over Locker. It’s the fact that you’re saying Hass is the reason things are different.

        We disagree that he’s making that difference. They weren’t giving CJ the ball because he wasn’t getting anywhere and they were falling behind in games.

        • Shawn Eagle

          and that’s where we just agree to disagree I guess. I believe it shows in the numbers that the offense is better off with Hasselbeck starting, but I also know that there is no way unless he’s injured that Locker doesn’t start. For better or worse…that’s the direction of this franchise.

      • David F.

        I’m not ruffled about Locker, and I agree it’s a good thing to look at both sides of the coin. CJ has played better with Hass, and that’s a fact. I’m just saying that the fact CJ and Hass seem to produce a better run game doesn’t mean that Hass is the better choice for the offense as a whole.

        I think Palmer is still trying to find his comfort zone with this offensive talent. It’s almost as if he has too many pieces to include, and therefore no one really gets a rhythm. I’d like to see Locker and CJ both utilizing their athletic ability in tandem more, but not necessarily an option run as I don’t want Locker to get killed by some linebacker.

        • Shawn Eagle

          You’re right….Hass may not be better for the whole offense. I know that he doesn’t have a big arm but the offense just seems more consistent with him running the show.

    • Modesto Koczwara

      Manning still has remarkable timing, and Hasselbeck does not at least not the what Manning timing is!

  • russell

    I don’t believe the rushing game, and who’s starting at quarterback correlate. Run game is just getting better, will do same when Locker returns (my opinion).