Sep 29, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver Nate Washington (85) celebrates with Titans quarterback Jake Locker (10) in the end zone after scoring a touchdown against the New York Jets during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Locker Wants to Start vs 49ers, Should Mike Munchak Let Him?


That’s what happened the last time that a Ryan Fitzpatrick-led football team faced the San Francisco 49ers. On Oct. 7, 2012, the former Buffalo Bills starting quarterback couldn’t lead a touchdown drive against a 49ers team that went on to become NFC champions. Fitzpatrick completed 16-of-26 passes for 126 yards with an interception. The Bills converted 2-of-10 third-down attempts.

Will Fitzpatrick get a chance to redeem himself? Jake Locker insists that he’s ready to return from a sprained hip that cost him two games. Those two games were losses. At 3-3, the Titans face about as close to a must-win scenario as you can get with a midseason out-of-conference matchup.

Locker wants to play, however, according to Jim Wyatt, this was what Locker had to say Thursday afternoon, not even 24 hours ago:

Reportedly, head coach Mike Munchak won’t decide until Sat. morning. With each practice session, Locker has gotten an increasing amount of reps. Keeping Locker out of this game would give him this week—and basically two more weeks because of the Week 8 bye—for him to fully recover from his injury.

Decisions, decisions, decisions. Munchak has shown his gambler personality with all of his attempts to go for it on 4th-and-1 and 4th-and-goal. During the last two seasons, Munchak has shown a willingness to play his starting quarterbacks despite their injury status.

Whether we’re looking at short-term or long-term consequences, those gambles haven’t always paid off. Two examples that come to mind: Playing Locker after his initial shoulder injury and playing Matt Hasselbeck against a 0-13 Indianapolis Colts team.

Remember when Hasselbeck was hobbling after the first handoff of that Colts contest? He could barely throw the football more than 15 yards. He threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a Pick 6. Locker had to finish the game. The Colts won 27-13, providing the final deathblow to the Titans’ playoff chances.

Then there was playing Locker after his shoulder injury vs the New England Patriots. Locker played through it. Unfortunately, he aggravated that shoulder injury just three weeks later against the Houston Texans. He missed five games. Hasselbeck led the team to a 2-3 record.

Playing Locker is risky, however, just get him through this contest. He can rest through the bye and into a Week 9 matchup vs the St. Louis Rams. Of course, protecting Locker is easier said than done with an offensive line that hasn’t excelled in that department.

I’m a bit of a risk-taker. Therefore, if I’m the Titans, then I’m starting Locker. No questions asked. It sounds like general manager Ruston Webster would too:

More than anything, Tennessee needs Locker because he’s a better option in a competitive fourth quarter. Time and time again, Fitzpatrick has shown that he’s not effective during crunch time. That’s not only his last two games—it’s his entire Bills career. The defense will keep this team in the game. The Titans need the signal-caller who can finish the job.

Poll added below. What do our readers think about starting Locker vs the 49ers? Wait one more game or get him out there? Discuss in the comments, Twitter or Facebook.

Should Jake Locker Start vs San Francisco 49ers?

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Tags: Jake Locker NFL Tennessee Titans

  • Monty Wallace

    There shouldn’t be any middle ground here. Either he is ready or he is not.
    Suiting Locker up as a second option could lead to disaster if he’s not 100%. In
    that instance, he would be installed into the game only after Fitzpatrick
    struggled, which presumably would mean the Titans are behind in points and
    struggling to catch up. That would put even more pressure on a quarterback that
    is obviously not 100%, or he would have been the starter to begin with.

    If he is indeed 100%, there is no reason not to start him. The question is:
    can you, as the coaching staff, trust him to be honest about his condition?
    Knowing his importance to the team, one would like to think that he would be,
    regardless of his desire to play. Risking a season ending setback that would be
    disastrous for the team is something he should take into consideration.

    Looking back at the injury, the first concern was the hip. Munchak said back
    then that the knee was minor and not really a concern. Fast-forward to today
    and the hip appears fine as all discussion is about the knee. Was the knee
    minor, as Munchak indicated, or was it worse than they thought? Could it also
    be that they are being overly cautious?

    In the end, Munchak has to rely on his staff, and the honesty of his
    quarterback, to make the right decision. Play him if he is ready; sit him if he
    isn’t. Don’t start him at less than 100% just to get a win, but don’t sit him
    just to be extra cautious if he is ready to play. They could always put
    Fitzpatrick back in if they get even the slightest feeling that something is
    wrong with Locker.