Jake Locker has all eyes on him heading into the 2013 NFL season. The Tennessee Titans are praying to make the playoffs and the coaches have put all their money on Locker.
I was trying to figure out what to write last night, and as I stumbled through stats and old articles, I stumbled into the Jake Locker… world? Whatever it was, here I am, stressing about a player I really like, wondering if he’ll be able to really take a hold of the reins in his 3rd year and lead this Titans offense down the field.
So for the pleasure of both you and myself, I’m breaking down my worries and confidences in Locker. Let’s start with the worries.
- Let’s start with some of the earliest of problems; his Wonderlic score. While the Wonderlic isn’t the life or death of a QB, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be an intelligent QB. Locker’s score was possibly the lowest of his QB class (McElroy 43, Gabbert 42, Ponder 35, Stanzi 30, Dalton 29, Mallett 26, Newton 21, Locker 20). We all saw VY struggle to read defenses. His Wonderlic was reported at 6. Obviously, Locker has a couple steps on him.
- Dealing with the blitz. Locker struggled badly in 2012 when facing the blitz. His accuracy when being faced with a blitz was abysmal and accounted for more than a couple of his interceptions. He also threw some costly ones from deep in the Titans territory. From PFF on Locker’s performance against the San Diego Chargers in week 2: “Locker’s QB rating plummets by nearly 60 points when he is pressured (from 96.7 to 40.3) and by nearly as much when he is blitzed.” To be fair, it was basically Locker’s rookie year, but it’s certainly something to keep an eye on.
- Injuries. He was known for playing through them in college, and as a Titans fan, we’ve kind of looked at that as a Steve McNair kind of quality. He played through some hard hits in 2012, but the biggest one he took had him out of the game for a quarter of the season and required surgery. Locker is a tough guy, but he should take a page from McNair’s book and learn to protect his body better.
- Coaching. Dowell Loggains has had more great things said about him than I ever heard about Chris Palmer. He knows how important this season is to everyone and he’s working on simplifying the playbook to help Locker, as well as all the receivers.
- Attitude. Half of Locker’s selling point has always been his character. He’s a dedicated guy who you know is putting all his energy into being a better player. While Locker has said he doesn’t think his accuracy is an issue and many contest that, I don’t. Decision making is another story.
- Tutelage. It’s hard to find a better professional to learn from than Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck wasn’t fed with a golden spoon in the NFL. He had to earn everything he got. I’m sure Locker picked up more than a couple helpful things from Hasselbeck.
- His 2011 tape. I know it’s a couple years back, but the guy on that tape was special. He came in during hard parts of difficult games and put the Titans right back in the midst of things. He revitalized an offense that sometimes sputtered late with Hasselbeck. He made plays. He moved the offense.
It’s a tough and unforgiving league anymore. People don’t often get the Aaron Rodgers treatment that allows them to sit behind a HOF QB for years. It’s sink or swim time for Locker. I think he’ll step up to the plate. I truly do. It’s hard not to feel nervous for him, though.
What do you say? Will Jake Locker sink or swim in 2013?
You can find me on Twitter @JustinLStewart