Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PREWIRE

Are The Tennessee Titans Better With Matt Hasselbeck Starting?

Yes, I know that Jake Locker is the starting QB and will be starting again once he’s healthy, but are Titans a better team with Matt Hasselbeck starting at QB? Let’s look at a few things.

With Jake Locker starting, the offense averages 311 yards and 5.73 yards a play. Now with Hasselbeck the Titans average 335 yards and 5.27 yards a play. So you can see that they average more for the whole game just not as much per play. Some of that has to do with Locker averaging 7.37 yards a pass to Hasselbeck’s 5.90. Locker has a bigger arm and looks to throw it downfield more often than Hasselbeck does. Advantage- Hasselbeck for total yards. Advantage- Locker for higher yards per completion

What about 3rd down %, which is a very big part of an offense. If you can’t convert, you can’t stay on the field and score. With Locker playing, the offense converted 11 out of 35 third down opportunities (31%). With Hasselbeck playing, the the offense has converted 19 out of 44 opportunities(43%). As you can see, the offense has had more attempts to covert third downs and has converted more of those attempts with Hasselbeck as the QB. Advantage- Hasselbeck

Time of possession, another important part of the game that is sometimes overlooked. With Locker at QB, the Titans averaged 24:09 each game in T.O.P. With Hasselbeck that number jumps to 27:97. That’s almost four more minutes per game of having the ball longer than the other team. That might not seem like much but for a young defense, having four extra minutes on the sideline to rest and adjust is huge. Advantage- Hasselbeck

Let’s talk points. With Locker at the helm, the offense averaged 15.3 points a game (that’s adjusted for offensive points scored only). With Hasselbeck as the starter the Titans average 15.6 points a game. Basically the same with a slight uptick in points when Hasselbeck plays, but I don’t think much of a difference to make a big deal about. Advantage- Hasselbeck

What about sacks and turnovers? Locker was sacked three times in three games with a total of five turnovers in those three games. Hasselbeck has been sacked eight times and has a total of five turnovers in three games as well. So while Hasselbeck has been sacked more times, they both have turned the ball over the same amount of times. Advantage-Draw with a lean towards Locker as having the advantage

Here is something that may be overlooked but I think is very important; Chris Johnson production. With Jake Locker as the starting QB, Chris Johnson averaged 1.4 yards a carry with an average of 11 carries a game. He also produced a grand total of 45 rushing yards with Locker starting. With Hasselbeck as the starting QB, Chris Johnson has averaged 4 yards a carry with an average of 19 carries a game. He has also produced 256 rushing yards in the three games with Hasselbeck starting. This should all be highlighted, it is simply night and day in CJ’s production when Hasselbeck is playing instead of Locker. If I was CJ I would be the biggest Hasselbeck fan on the team. Advantage- Hasselbeck

Looks like Hasselbeck is running away with why he should start by what I’ve posted, but not so fast. Look, Locker is the future of this franchise and when he is healthy, he will start again. Moving forward as a team, I think its best if he does start so he can get acclimated to the entire game.

Locker has tremendous upside as a young QB, but he also has many different aspects of his game to work on. He is definitely not as far a long in his development as any of the other second year QBs (Ponder, Dalton, and Newton) except Blaine Gabbert. He’s also nowhere close to being on the level of RGIII or Andrew Luck so it is imperative that he plays early and often to get a hold of the offense, the audibles, and the overall feel for the game.

Yes Locker can scramble and he has a laser rocket arm, but in real football, not in Madden, its about throwing into tight windows, being able to lead your receiver, and keeping the chains moving. This is not Madden football, he’s not rated an 83 but plays like a 90. He can’t just take off and run everytime the pocket breaks down and get 45 yards. He’s already had two seperated shoulders in his first three professional football games as a starter and should be very cautious about getting a thrird seperated shoulder before the season is over.

I know this is a hot button topic, but I hope you look at with Titans shaded glasses and not Locker shaded glasses and can at least see something in there that makes sense. For whatever reason, people seem to be overly protective of Jake Locker more than any other player on the Titans team. Why? I’m not sure, but it is interesting that when negative words are said about Locker many people’s fethers get very ruffled.


What say you?


Shawn Eagle

You can follow me on twitter @RS1Eagle

Tags: Chris Johnson Jake Locker Matt Hasselbeck Tennessee Titans

  • Chris Garete

    The anser is no they are not. You need to look at the teams they played. Locker faced three of the better teams in the NFL and was knocked out by arguably the best team in the AFC. The only win Hass has, is a lucky one against an incredibly beat up steelers team, the fact that it was as close as it was is slightly embarassing, and Hass almost lost the game with his late INT. (look at their int to pass attempts, Hasselbecks is MUCH WORSE) Having britt back has also opened things up for CJ and Hass so its unfair to say CJ has played better just because of the QB. Locker is the starter for a reason…….hes better!

    • Justin Stewart

      Yeah. I look at the teams they’ve played against too.

      I credit the increased run game awesomeness to a line that’s actually figuring out how to block.

  • Shawn Eagle

    OK, with Locker they played the Pats, Chargers, Lions, and started the Texans game. Hasslebck played the Texans, Vikings, and Steelers. Locker had the easier of the two schedules if you ask me.
    The only win Locker has is a lucky one against an incredibly overrated Lions team.
    The fact the Steelers game was close is embarrassing for who? Embarrassing that the Steelers didn’t blow us out? Or embarassing that we didn’t blow the Steelers out? Not sure if you’ve watched the games this year but heading into the Steelers game we had been outscored by an average of 36.2 to 17.6…..basically 20 points every game….we ain’t blowing anyone out.
    I looked at the int rate….Locker out of 106 attempts has thrown 2 ints….Hass, out of 123 attempts has thrown 4 ints…so Locker definitely has him there.
    Like I said….its a hot button topic…..people really seem to get fired up when someone talks about Locker.
    I know he’s the starter, just thought I would throw those things out there.

  • nflfan877

    Hasselbeck should be starting. His numbers have never been top of the league, yet he wins games. Good analysis. The points on time of possession and CJ are big — when a QB makes 3rd downs, it helps everyone out.

    • Shawn Eagle

      Thanks nflfan….Hass is definitely not flashy but he’s effective and he’s consistent.

  • Dan Greatness Normandeau

    Are you serious Shawn? Is the question who is the better of the two (at this point), or who should be the starter? Hass may be the better of the two RIGHT NOW (As he should be he’s only been playing for 15 years or whatever), but I (as well as any other REASONABLE Titans fan) know that Locker should and will be the starter from this point on.

    Why start Hass? We have already seen what he can do! He led us to a 9-7 record with 18 TDS to 14 INTS and 3500+ passing yds. Besides his TD:INT ratio (not very good), that equals average. 9-7 is a winning record, but it won’t and didn’t get us to the playoffs. More reasons given later.

    Now WHY NOT start Locker? He is the future. The Titans have invested an 8th overall selection in a QB to not sit the bench behind a 37 year old AVERAGE vet. Will there be growing pains? Absolutely. Would Hass win us more games THIS year? Maybe, but why delay Lockers progress in order to start an old average QB? To win us 8-9 games just to miss the playoffs, (or worse) be one and done in the postseason? Did you expect Locker to come onto the field this season and light up the scoreboard after the limited playing time he received last season? If so, you sir are delusional. Locker needs to learn form his success and his failures in order to become the franchise QB the Titans DESPERATELY need him to be. How could he possibly get any better by sitting on the bench with zero game time experience? (Please do not bring up the Aaron Rodgers scenario and compare it to ours. Two very different situations.) Of course I’m thinking long term unlike you and all of the other impatient fans.

    Now lets look at your comparisons. How, in your right mind, could you blame the horrid running game on Locker’s presence in the huddle? Should he make the line block better? Should he make CJ run harder? Of course the run game has gotten better over the last couple weeks. It couldn’t get any worse! If the run game was still as bad as it was week 1 then heads would be rolling. PLEASE explain to me how Hass (as QB) has made the running game better? No seriously I really want you to try and explain to me how he could make the running game better. I’d love to hear it. It got better on its own. Which leads me to my next point.

    Time of possesion. Locker’s time of possesion is worse han Hass’? Duh! The first 3 weeks of this season was the worse running game I have ever seen. Of course his T.O.P would be lower than Hass’. He had NO RUNNING GAME! How could a QB in his first year ever as a starter succeed with absoutely no help from his offensive line or his runningback?

    Locker’s 3rd down % is lower than Hass’. Yes, I’ll give you that. With Hass’ 15 years or whatever of experience, and Locker’s lack of running game, I hope Hass would have a higher 3rd down %. When I bring up Hass’ experience, I mean his ability to find his checkdown. 3rd and 15? Check it down. 3rd and 20? Check it down. If its one thing Hass knows, its who his checkdown is. BUT Locker does need to learn to be patient and find his checkdown in order to advance the sticks instead of always looking for the big play.

    Sacks and TO’s. Again, based upon the difference in experience between the two, I’d hope Hass would have less TO’s. Oh wait. He has the same amount? Well atleast he hasn’t gotten sacked as many times as Locker. Oh wait. He’s been sacked 3 more times? That argument only suggests that Locker has the advantage because of his ability to use his legs.

    You gave Hass the advantage in PPG with his 15.6 to Locker’s 15.3. Really? .3 point differential, man? C’mon, that shouldn’t have even been brought up.

    You write an article based upon statistics that YOU believe suggest that Hass should be the starting QB yet conclude your argument by saying, “I think its best if he [Locker] does start so he can get acclimated to the entire game”. A bit contradicting huh? Then whats the point of your entire argument? Lets assume you actually somehow buy in to your pathetic statistics, and believe Hass should be the starter right now. When should they start Locker then, Shawn? After Hass finally decides to hang it up after a few more 7-9 win seasons and Locker’s got a year (or none) left on his contract?

    Everyone (besides you, obviously) know that Hass can not and will not win us a Superbowl. Thats what its all about right? Championships? Locker’s time is now, and has the potential to someday maybe lead us to our first championship if given the necessary time to evolve as a player. I hope you wrote this article in order to get a rise out of people (if so congrats!) because if not THANK GOD you are not running this team!

    • Justin Stewart

      I think you’re officially the owner of the longest comment ever.

      I also think Locker’s turnovers have been overblown. He had one fumble where he got hit from behind and all of a sudden he has problems. That same play happens to tons of QB’s. Getting hit from behind often leads to a fumble.

      The stats are definitely skewed towards Hasselbeck. But that’s what you do when you make an argument.

      Ask the Presidential candidates.

      • Dan Greatness Normandeau

        When there is so much wrong in one article it is easy to reply with so many counter arguments.

        • Justin Stewart

          There’s nothing wrong. An opinion is an opinion. He has stats. It may not be the most convincing argument, but you can’t say it’s wrong just because you disagree with it.

          • Dan Greatness Normandeau

            Obviously he is wrong in MY OPINION. I didn’t think I had to spell that out to you in order for you to understand what I was saying. Apparently I was wrong.

          • Justin Stewart

            Personal attack. Cool.

          • Dan Greatness Normandeau

            Lol! You really took that as a “personal attack”? Got some soft skin, bud?

          • Justin Stewart

            “didn’t think I had to spell that out to you in order for you to understand what I was saying. Apparently I was wrong”

            Insulting someones intelligence? Since when has that not been personal?

          • Dan Greatness Normandeau

            Take it however you want. I honestly couldn’t care less.

          • Justin Stewart


          • Dan Greatness Normandeau


          • Shawn Eagle


      • Dan Greatness Normandeau

        And you obvioulsy haven’t read or been involved in many football threads. I’d actually call my reply average in length lol. Check out Its a great place to discuss football with fans that actually know what they’re talking about.

      • Shawn Eagle

        I think I just took it back from Dan with the longest comment part!!!

    • Shawn Eagle

      @ Dan, Thanks for your response. I will try and touch on each point that you brought up. The question was mainly, who is better now and who gives us the best chance to win now.
      IMO, Hass gives us the best chance to win now. I didn’t mean to be confusing but yes, Locker is our future and he needs to get the reps so he can get better as a QB and as the face of the franchise.
      I will agree, Locker can only grow so much as a player by watching the game from the sideline and watching film. He does need to play to get in game situations and see those first hand.
      I did not expect Locker to come in and set the NFL world on fire, however, it seems like many Titans fans did. It also seems like many Titans fans are hyper-sensitive about Jake Locker and any criticism that he receives. I believe that Jake Locker is alot further behind in his development than Dalton or Ponder and I wish we would have drafted one of them.
      Now let’s get to it, its very easy to blame the running games’ woes on Jake Locker. It’s actually very simple. When a QB cannot consistently beat a defense with his arm than a defense will load up and key on the run. When I have no fear of you beating me with your arm then I will stop your run game. Score points and make you one dimensional.
      Of course Locker can’t make the line block harder but what he can do is check out of a BAD run play and into a better run play at the line when he sees the defense lining up in a certain formation. Conversely, he can check out of bad run play and into a good pass play to keep the defense on their heals. Now believe me, I know that he won’t be able to do that until he gets the offense down pat and learns how to read defenses better.
      So now here comes the part where I try and explain how Hass makes the running game better.
      He may not have a big arm, but he is accurate with the ball and he knows where to go with the ball when throwing.
      Hasselbeck can line up, look at the defense, check into a running play or out of a running play if he thinks the defense is playing the run and create a favorable match up for the offense.
      Its not rocket science, offensive numbers have gone up across the board since Hasselbeck has started. Chris Johnson has looked like a totally different RB since Hasselbeck has started.
      HASSELBECK SIMPLY PUTS THE OFFENSE IN BETTER POSITIONS TO SUCCEED. If you don’t see that then I don’t know what to say.
      No, Locker’s TOP is worse than Hasselbeck’s because he wasn’t consistent enough with the ball to create situations within the offense to convert 3rd downs. Hasselbeck has had more 3rd down conversions, and has had a better percentage of converting third downs.
      ex. Andy Dalton last year as a first year starter could consistently throw the ball down field and convert first downs…therefore he had a good running game and good offensive production. If the Bengals offensive line better than ours? No…but as a rookie QB with a decent RB (Cedric Benson) and a rookie WR (AJ Green), defenses could not key on only one aspect of the offense.
      I’m glad you agree with me about the 3rd down % and I also agree with you. Hass has years of experience and it dows help him to know where to go with the ball.
      Hasselbeck is slow afoot, he’ll get sacked more. I think we all know that. He’s also not immune to making mistakes, it happens. I put up TOs because they are a big part of the game. Locker has escaped more sacks due to his legs, that’s pretty simple to see.
      Ok, I’ll give you that about the points. I did say that it was no big deal and not really an advantage.
      I was trying to write an article just simply about whether the Titans are better with Hasselbeck right now? I think that I proved that right now they are a better offensive team.
      I do understand what you mean, maybe that was contradicting. I certainly didn’t mean to make it that way but I do understand your fury over that.
      Wow, pathetic stats, I simply don’t agree with pathetic at all. The offense has been better running the football, controlling the football, scoring more points (albeit only a little better), converting 3 rd downs, and gaining more yards a game with Hasselbeck as the starting QB. There is no grey area in those stats. They are not pathetic, they are not some crazy intricate little stats. Those are all very important aspects of offensive football. If you feel like they are pathetic then that’s fine, but they are true and not skewed.
      When should they start Locker? I believe they should start Locker when he is fully healthy and ready to play. When his shoulder is completely healed then he should start.
      Well, no, I don’t believe Hasselbeck can lead us to a championship. I believe age has really caught up to him, but I also believe that he is a savy vet that can still make some plays.
      Dan, if you think that this team is all about championships and Super Bowls then you haven’t been following them that long. It is about winning to the team, the coaches, and the players. To Bud its about the bottom line…how much money can he make.
      Locker’s time may be now, and when he is healthy he’ll be starting again. I feel we will see decreased offensive production and I think the running game will also suffer. Why? Because when Locker played earlier that’s exactly what happened.

      Whether Locker turns out to be the savior of this franchise or not he will have absolutely every opportunity to show it. Do I hope he turns into a future pro bowler and face of the franchise, ABSOLUTELY.
      I never write an article just to get a rise out of people, but unfortunately that’s exactly what happens whenever there is anything critical said of Jake Locker. For whatever reason, he is loved more than any other player I’ve ever seen on the Titans that hasn’t really done anything. That’s not to say he won’t do anything, but as of yet, he has one good game (against the Lions, and 2 seperated shoulders in 3 starts).
      I think I would have done a pretty good job of running the team.