During the 2012 offseason, Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams wanted his franchise to sign Peyton Manning. Adams was upset when Manning joined the Denver Broncos. Adams felt as though COO Mike Reinfeldt didn’t make enough of an effort to bring Manning to Nashville.
The Titans finished the 2012-13 NFL season with a 6-10 record. The Broncos had a 13-3 record. That was good enough for the AFC’s No. 1 seed. After the season ended, Adams fired Reinfeldt. In 2013, Mike Munchak will rely on Jake Locker in what’s expected as a do-or-die season. Playoffs or bust.
Should the Titans have been more aggressive in their pursuit of Manning? Did management make the right decision with Locker and Matt Hasselbeck? Let’s see how both of these quarterbacks performed during the 2012-13 season:
Peyton Manning (16 games): 68.6 completion percentage, 4,659 passing yards, 37 passing touchdowns, 11 interceptions, six rushing yards, zero rushing touchdowns.
Jake Locker (11 games): 56.4 completion percentage, 2,176 passing yards, 10 passing touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 291 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown.
The primary concern surrounding Manning was his neck. Ironically, he stayed healthy. Locker didn’t. While Adams and many fans were disappointed in the outcome of the Manning sweepstakes, it seemed like Manning had made up his mind: he wanted to work for John Elway.
Let’s assume Manning joined the Tennessee Titans. In the short term, they win more games. Maybe enough for a playoff berth. They’d have gotten more national exposure. Nashville becomes more attractive to free agents. The local economy would’ve received a boost because downtown businesses get more customers. No 16.5 local ratings. Maybe Locker becomes an understudy to Manning?
That’s a lot of positives. Of course, Manning doesn’t automatically make the Titans a 13-3 team. How would Manning have done with Chris Palmer as his offensive coordinator? Even if Manning did well, they’re not a Super Bowl contender. Not with their defense.
In the long term? It’s too early to say. Locker has 11 starts. Seven of those starts came with a separated non-throwing shoulder. Five of them came with Dowell Loggains. Most of them came with an offensive line that was decimated from injuries.
Locker will get another season. He should get that opportunity. The Titans must surround him with better offensive minds than Loggains and, heaven forbid, John Shoop. Locker must improve his accuracy. These things mean nothing if he can’t stay healthy.
Coaching, accuracy and health. If those things are figured out, then Locker will make big strides in 2013.