It’s very simple and it’s almost a guarantee.
The answer is simple. Seriously, simple. A simple offense. Over at Black And Teal, Fansided’s page for the Jacksonville Jaguars, a few of the writers have brought up that the Jaguars would be one of the lone beneficiaries of the lockout due to having a simple offense that is reliant upon a steady run game. The same will bode true for the Titans, regardless of the QB play.
If Jake Locker starts the season as a rookie with limited training to benefit him, he will struggle. He will struggle with NFL defenses, he will struggle with the speed of the game, and he will struggle with the playbook. If Jake Locker had all the training an entire off-season would bring, he would still struggle. Luckily for Locker, he gets to hand the ball off to one Chris Johnson. Johnson and the Titans offensive line will help take away some of that struggle.
You know what else will? A simplified offense. It’s likely that the Titans would have run a simplified offense in the event that the NFL and the NFLPA* (at that time no *) signed a new CBA agreement in March. Locker can’t learn a detailed offense in just one year. Here is another Jaguar example for ya: Trent Edwards. We all know Edwards, he was a mid-round draft pick that played above average for a few years and gave Bills fans some real hope and then he got concussed and was never the same.
Last year, the Bills cut Edwards and he went to the Jags and helped the Titans win a game late in the season due to his odd play that game. He looked decent a few times, I’ll give him that. Regardless, he graduated Stanford, ok? Stanford, they’re real smart there. Edwards made the comment that he was just getting all the complexities of the Bills playbook after about 3 years and that there was absolutely no way he would get the Jaguars playbook in the month he was there.
Do you get it? The offense is forced into simplicity. You take the small, simple things that Locker would’ve been taught regardless of the Lockout situation and you see he is working on those now. Experience working with the center, timing with wr’s, experience handing the ball off to Johnson. If he gets the small things down exceptionally well, he can really make a difference. The offense will benefit from running the simple things well: Running the ball, short to intermediate throws with the occasional deep ball.
If you get the whole team great at the simple stuff (starting with Locker) then they’ll be able to perform great this year. Run the ball more than you pass it and make it even more simple. This is a unique year, this is cause for adaptation. You teach your team how to get great at “run the ball and stop the run” in these player-led practices and they will start the year with a huge advantage. Run the ball, the Titans do have Chris Johnson.
I think Locker, and the Titans, will do fine, even with the Lockout.