March 18, 2013. That is the day the Tennessee Titans signed Ryan Fitzpatrick. On July 24, the Titans opened training camp with Jake Locker as the team’s unquestioned starter, as Mike Munchak made it clear that there would be no competition.
From the start, I opposed Muchak’s decision. Fitzpatrick is a veteran quarterback and, despite his tendency to throw interceptions, he at least deserved a chance to give the unproven Locker a run for his money. I figured both quarterbacks would be better off after facing an open competition.
However, Locker’s play out of the gates made me look foolish. Through the season’s first four games, the third-year quarterback posted a passer rating of just below 100, had not yet thrown an interception and led his team to a 3-1 record.
Even when Locker got hurt (the first time) and Fitzpatrick started in his place, my initial opinion still looked bad. Fitzpatrick threw four interceptions in two starts, three of which came in the fourth quarters of those games.
But when Locker returned from his injury, he simply did not look the same. He threw four interceptions in only two and a half games and got injured yet again, this time for the rest of the season.
Now, the tables have turned and Fitzpatrick is the unquestioned starter as Tennessee makes a push for the playoffs. The nine-year veteran has surpassed a passer rating of 100 in each of his last three starts and, most recently, brought the Titans down the field on a game-winning touchdown drive against the Raiders.
Fitzpatrick’s success in this knee-jerk-reaction, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league begs the question: Who is the real quarterback of the future for the Titans? Let’s look at both quarterbacks’ numbers this season.
Titans Quarterback Statistics*
|Completions||Attempts||Completion Percentage||Yards||Yards Per Attempt||Yards Per Game||Touchdowns||Interceptions||Passer Rating|
Statistically, Fitzpatrick looks like the better option. However, Locker has the clear advantage in the win column. He has led the team to four of its five wins, although it is worth mentioning that he has played against the softer portion of Tennessee’s schedule (his opponents have a winning percentage of 44, while Fitzpatrick’s opponents have won 57 percent of their games).
As of right now, the Titans hold the AFC’s sixth seed and have a very real shot at the postseason. If Tennessee ends up in the playoffs with Fitzpatrick at the helm, the starting job could very well be his moving forward.
*Stats according to ESPN.com