Can Jake Locker Handle the “Pressure” When It Counts?

Aug 17, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker (10) rolls out to throw a pass against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Now we all know that the fate of the Tennessee Titans lies on the shoulders of what we hope will be our franchise quarterback for years to come and that is of course Jake Locker.

I’ve been a big fan of Locker’s attitude, character, athleticism and of course that strong arm. But there are plenty of people that have those traits and it doesn’t mean they’re going to lead a team to a Super Bowl. We all know about Jake’s accuracy issue so I’m not going to go into all of the details. I will say throughout training camp and the preseason it seemed to have improved.

A lot of things seem to be improving for Jake. This includes his decision making, taking what he can get and overall accuracy throughout…except one thing and that’s his decision making when under pressure.  More often than not it seems that Jake cannot handle a well-executed blitz or when the defensive unit brings the front seven on full blast. Jake seems to panic, force throws and even throws off his back foot trying to make little happen when the risk is much higher than the reward. Now if I can see that, then every team’s defensive coordinator and their mother can. They’ll game plan accordingly. This spells disaster for Jake.

When I say “when it counts,” I’m talking about the red zone.  Sure Jake may look okay, even great between the 20s, but when it comes down to where you need six, he seems to get erratic and panicky which is a big concern for this team going forward. According to CBS Sports.com, Jake took 34 trips to the red zone last season, completing 11-of-28 passes for a 39-percent completion percentage and only five touchdowns.

Jake cannot rely on throwing the ball 40 yards and having guys make circus catches over defenders backs to get six points. We need to see him be more comfortable in the pocket under pressure and punch the ball in when we are inside the opponent’s 15-yard-line. Maybe Jake is a guy who needs a lot of space to work with similar to someone we may know who goes by the nickname Chris Johnson.

When it all comes down to it, Jake still has a lot of things to work on. If he can’t be efficient in the red zone, then the Titans will be looking for a new quarterback in 2014. Can we really trust Locker to punch the ball in with five seconds on the clock to win the game? I’m having flashbacks of the 2011 game against the Saints and I feel like we might see some Déjà vu in 2013. Locker will be challenged with two straight away games where the crowd will provide plenty of pressure as well as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans defensive units.

We’ll see how improved he is sooner than later. With all the weapons he has, there are no excuses, especially with a revamped offensive line and a return of what seems to be the next SMASH AND DASH.

Topics: Jake Locker, NFL, Tennessee Titans

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