Aug 23, 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker (10) drops back to throw against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Comparing Tennessee Titans QB Jake Locker to Andrew Luck


Perhaps you’ve already heard, but apparently this is going to be a make-or-break year for Tennessee Titans starting quarterback Jake Locker. Last year was Locker’s first year as a starter and I personally believe that it is still too early in his career to evaluate him fully and fairly. A few days ago, fellow Titan Sized contributor Bret Fitchpatric wrote an article comparing Locker to the 2011 draft class. This prompted me to take a look at how he measured up to perhaps the most highly touted first-year starter of 2012, Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts.

ESPN’s Ron Jaworski recently ranked Luck the highest of the 2012 first-year starters and the 10th overall quarterback in the NFL. Conversely, Jaws ranked Locker last of all 2012 first-year starters and 31st overall. It is no secret that Luck is widely regarded as the best 2012 first-year starting quarterback.

But are Locker and Luck really that far apart? Let’s compare how they performed in 2012…

Completion Percentage

Since his days as the starting quarterback at the University of Washington, Locker has been criticized for what analysts call “poor accuracy.” Usually, the “accuracy” trait is determined by a quarterback’s completion percentage.

In 11 games last year, Locker posted a completion percentage of 56.4 percent. Not great. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great. Typically, 60 percent is considered “good.”

So Andrew Luck, who is supposedly much better than Locker, must have posted a pretty good completion percentage, right? Don’t get too hasty with those assumptions. In fact, Luck completed just 54.1 percent of his pass attempts in 2012, a full 2.3 percentage points worse than Locker.

Passing Yards

Jake Locker only played in 11 games last season, 10 of which he played with an injured shoulder, so it is to be expected that Andrew Luck annihilated him in passing yards (4,374 for Luck to 2,176 for Locker).

Obviously, it is an unfair comparison to look at the shear number of yards. Locker played in five fewer games and only threw half as many passes as Luck (Luck attempted 627 passes, Locker attempted 314). Is Luck a better quarterback because he played in a system that had him chuck the ball around more than twice as many times?

Instead let’s look at passing yards per attempt. In 2012, Luck averaged 6.98 yards per attempt, while Locker averaged 6.93. That’s .05 yards, which equates to 1.8 inches per attempt. Clearly, the two quarterbacks are quite even in this category.

Touchdowns

We have reached a category that clearly belongs to Luck. Luck’s 23 touchdowns in 16 games clearly bests Locker’s 10 touchdowns in 11 games. One could argue the difference in offensive systems or the fact that the Colts were a far superior team offensively last season. I think it’s best to concede this category to Luck.

Turnovers

One of the most important jobs for a quarterback is to protect the football. Who did a better job of it in 2012, Luck or Locker?

Locker turned the ball over 13 times (11 interceptions, 2 fumbles) in 11 games last season. Luck turned the ball over 27 times (18 interceptions, 9 fumbles) in 16 games. Locker’s turnover rate? 1.18 turnovers per game. Luck’s? 1.68 turnovers per game. That’s a pretty substantial increase in turnovers—a full turnover more every two games for Luck.

Rushing

In today’s NFL, it’s important for a quarterback to possess mobility, whether it’s to escape the pass rush or to pose a threat for opposing defenses. Locker carried the ball, either on designed run plays or broken scrambles, 41 times last year for 291 yards. That’s an average of 7.1 yards per carry (YPC) with 1 touchdown.

Luck rushed 62 times for 255 yards, a 4.1 per carry average, with five touchdowns. Locker clearly bested Luck at rushing between the 20’s, obliterating Luck’s YPC mark. Luck, however, had six goal line carries from which he scored all five of his rushing touchdowns.

Based on these statistics, it is safe to say that Locker is the better ball-carrier of the two. Locker put up more yards on less carries in less games.

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Of the five categories we looked at, Locker came out ahead of Luck in completion percentage, turnover rate, and rushing ability. Luck bested Locker in touchdowns and, technically, in passing yards, although when you adjust the numbers for a fair comparison, that last category is pretty close to a draw. Overall though, it would seem that Luck is not, as many believe, miles ahead of Locker as an NFL quarterback.

I’m not trying to convince you that Locker is a better quarterback than Luck. I just don’t see the enormous gap between them that most people seem to. I think Jake will prove the doubters wrong this year and blossom into the Titans franchise QB.

 

Agree? Disagree? Tell me if I’m wrong on Twitter @JGra_TitanSized

Tags: Andrew Luck Featured Jake Locker NFL NFL Offseason Popular Tennessee Titans

  • Jason Parker

    You forgot one very important category, leadership, luck is miles ahead of locker on that one.

    • Brandon Paille

      How is that measured? Also Luck was the guy from day one, Locker had to beat out a vet, so leadership is really hard to quantify when looking at their years last year. Especially since Locker missed a third of the season…

      • Justin Graver

        Agree with you Brandon… Jason to you I disagree that Luck is miles ahead of Locker in leadership. Last year, yes, Luck had a better command of his team than Locker did. But don’t forget, coming out of college Locker was rated as “Exceptional” in the Intangibles category; part of the analysis said: “Teammates have tremendous respect for him as a leader.” This year coming into camp as the definitive starter I think Locker can truly take command of the offense and be respected as a leader by his teammates- in college, he definitely demonstrated the leadership abilities to do so

  • Jason Parker

    You missed some other things as well, poise in the pocket, mechanics, and luck has an outstanding football IQ.

    • Justin Graver

      I agree with your points here, but I was looking more to compare their performances last season from a statistical standpoint, something with a more definitively measurable aspect.

  • Jason Parker

    Last year leadership was measured by 7 game winning drives, and the way he commanded the offense

  • Jason Parker

    Yeah luck threw a lot INT’s but he came back and won, that’s leadership

  • Jason Parker

    Coming out of college, did that translate to the pros? Luck proved it last year, locker hasn’t lived up to it, that’s why luck was rated at 10 and locker at 31, it’s not about passing yards or TD’s it’s about leadership as a franchise QB, locker hasn’t proved it yet

    • Justin Graver

      only time will tell if Locker can take the next step… I think he will

  • Jason Parker

    On another note, luck learned one of the most complicated offenses in the NFL with only a month in the offseason

  • Jason Parker

    If locker all of the sudden turns into a franchise QB fine, but he hasn’t proved it yet.

  • Joshua Huffman

    First thing’s first, Locker needs to stay healthy. If he can’t do that, he loses by default.

  • Jason Parker

    Another category would be durability, luck got knocked around last year and played all 16 games

  • Damien

    You’re either a huge titans homer or Locker’s younger brother. There isn’t a single front office guy in the league that would take locker over luck. Numbers can be manipulated to tell any story you want. Watch the game.

    • Justin Graver

      I never said Locker was better than Luck nor do I think a team would or should take Locker over Luck. I was just arguing that Luck is not as far ahead of Locker as most people seem to think

      • Damien

        Fair enough but my point is you can manipulate the numbers (completion %, turnover rate, etc) to show that luck isn’t that far ahead of a lot of QB’s. your argument would show Alex smith is a better QB than luck. Luck is way ahead of locker because of what he did on the field surrounded by rookies at the skilled positions, an interim HC, a crazy aggressive downfield passing attack conplimented by an awful offensive line.

  • Donald Ray Andry

    Very poor choice to choose to compare Luck to. Makes for readability and a few chuckles. Not much seriousness though. Luck is on another plain or planet than Locker. Not taking anything away from Jake. Titans need to relax and give Jake time to settle in. Johnson may still be the MAN. Wideouts of colts to Titans? No comparison. Jake will be fine. Luke will be Luck. Go Colts.

  • Carl Bennett

    So people, after reading this, which QB would you start a franchise with?

    Yeah lol, thats what I thought. Go Colts.

  • Steven Arthur

    This article is hilarious. Locker is nowhere near Luck….and the saying that Locker is the better runner than Luck as well? That’s about all Locker can do. Granted…I’d take Locker over Gabbert, Flynn, and Sanchez, but Luck does a lot of things Locker can’t. He reads the defense, leads a super efficient 2-minute drill (or sometimes 50 second drill) all the people who just point at the stats last year don’t really understand what Luck did in the face of opposition. This article is another one of those.

  • Ninetyone Dawgd

    Luck has always had better coaching for whatever reason. Harbaugh at Stanford and let’s just say Palmer was the absolute WORST coach Locker could have had. As far as raw athleticism, Locker is the better athlete. He’s faster, and has a considerably stronger arm (see 97mph fastball in High School). Luck is bigger, and has decent mobility, but he is no Locker. Accuracy and Decicion making have to go in Luck’s favor, but again I relate that to proper coaching (i.e. footwork, technique, etc..). It’s hard to compare the two because Jake has had such a rough career. He started out under Ty Willingham for god’s sake!

  • jake

    Maybe you should’ve compared him to someone like Matt Cassel. Everyone cuts on Andrew Luck for turnovers when he was sacked and knocked down the most(by far) in the NFL. Andrew Luck carried the colts to the playoffs in his rookie season. I can’t wait to see what he becomes in the future