Tennessee Titans Quarterback Competition
By Chase Maher
Despite not having a clear cut starter, the Tennessee Titans seem to be in good shape at the quarterback position. The Titans see themselves as having two legitimate options at starting quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker. One is a crafty vet, while the other is a young gunner with loads of potential.
The Vet: Matt Hasselbeck
Matt Hasselbeck is coming off his best season in years and the best passing year for a Titan since Steve McNair. His veteran presence was felt from day 1. With new skill players Kendall Wright and Taylor Thompson, it may be better to start Hasselbeck. As a veteran, he will keep those around him in check and the offense will benefit as a whole. Matt’s quick release and pocket presence masked several of the mistakes made by the interior offensive line this last season. He has excellent short to medium accuracy, and his knowledge of the game is something a lot of teams wish their quarterback had. He would be a serviceable starter that could have some really good games.
Matt Hasselbeck has the ability to win games and run a successful offense, but he lacks the athleticism and arm strength needed to make “splash plays” that elite quarterbacks are known for. He is a middle of the pack quarterback that will get us 8, maybe 9 wins. 3500 passing yards seems like a lot when previous quarterbacks like VY and KFC couldn’t hit a barn door if it was 10 feet in front of them, but in reality it was less than Joe Flacco had and only 100 more yards than Mark Sanchez. Let’s face it, Matt Hasselbeck fell apart towards the end of last season. He couldn’t beat an 0-14 Colts and couldn’t close the door on the Houston Texans late in the season, even with their second stringers. He will make a knowledgeable backup that won’t miss a beat if called in to duty.
The Young Gunner: Jake Locker
How often do top-10 picks sit for a full year, let alone two? It is Locker’s time. He is a dynamic athlete with a rocket for an arm. Locker lit it up last year when given the chance. 4:0 touchdown to interception ratio has to give him the confidence needed to win the job in camp/ preseason and be the starter week 1. He has all the intangibles needed, but lacks the experience and overall knowledge of the game to be elite. Those come in time, so why not start now. What do we have to lose? We are not winning a Superbowl with Hasselbeck, so why not let Locker make his mistakes now. The Titans seemed as though a spark was lit when Jake was in the game. We shall only hope his progressions continued throughout the off-season, because Locker is a special player. The first m0nth of the schedule should not effect whether Locker starts or not, besides, those are tougher games for the defense than the Titans offense. He will be an exciting starter that will have to push through some mistakes.
Locker had some big plays last season, but he was lucky a few of his passes weren’t intercepted, or worse. A couple could have went for six. Questions about his accuracy are still around. His work ethic may be good, but it takes years to fix bad habits and improve accuracy. Another year behind Hasselbeck could be great for his development. Locker’s skill sets are their and with improved accuracy he could be an elite quarterback. There is no reason to rush him in now because we aren’t a true contending team just yet. Let him keep sitting. It is like a thick sirloin, the longer it marinates, the better it tastes.
There is no way Hasselbeck can survive a whole season, at 36 years old, he might not make it to the bye. With that said, I believe the starting quarterback position is ultimately his to lose. The Titans are in a win-win position and in the end it is all about the development of Jake Locker. You don’t want to overwhelm him with all the intricacies of being a starter when he isn’t even done developing accuracy and knowledge of the system. Pushing him in too early will eventually slow or even damage his development. Matt Hasselbeck is certainly capable of winning us big games this year, and his 3 year contract means the front office anticipated this situation. Jake Locker should work as hard as he can to be the starter. If he blows Hasselbeck away then hand Locker the keys to the team. If the competition is close, keep developing Locker while Hasselbeck takes all the hits. Locker starting is the inevitable, but it may be best to get the team around him more prepared for a talent such as his.
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