Tennessee Titans and Jake Locker: Don’t Throw The Baby Out With The Bathwater


Dec 23, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker (10) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Can Jake Locker survive a coaching change in Tennessee?

The Tennessee Titans are at a crossroads once this season ends and there is a delicate decision in the balance.  Right now the the talk on everyone’s lips is whether or not Mike Munchak and Jake Locker should get another chance next year.  Wholesale coaching changes may or may not happen, and it seems Bud is leaning that way after the “Lashing in Lambeau” last Sunday, but I’m here to caution those that think this is the answer.

Everyone needs to be careful about what they wish for.

A new coaching regime with a high draft pick will want to start from scratch.  New coordinators, new staff, new quarterback.  Sound familiar? Didn’t we just do this?  I’m not here to defend the absolute ineptness the Titans have shown against mediocre to good teams this year, but I will say it’s too soon to pull the plug on Locker.  Maybe some of you believe this is what should happen, but I’m preaching patience.  The odds of Locker staying if Munchak goes are slim to none at best.

We’ll discuss Munchak at another time, so for now let’s look at Locker.

Remember that Jake Locker was the consensus #1 QB had he come out as a junior the year before he did.  Not only did his return to Washington cost him millions of dollars but he also slid to the Titans in the next years draft at #8 overall.  So what’s in a number?  Would you be willing to give Locker more time had he been the first overall pick in the draft?  Or even the first quarterback taken?  Remember he has only started 11 games in his short career.

His first year he watched from the sidelines and looked pretty darn good in relief duty.  The one crucial play that goes against him in  year one is not being able to seal the deal against the Saints.  Eating the ball and taking a sack on 4th and goal is unacceptable on any level, but at the time it seemed not much more than a rookie mistake.  Locker still hasn’t shown that he has the “it” factor to win games in the clutch.  He has the heart and the want to, but that may prove not to be enough.

It’s obvious that he has potential .  I’m not saying that you give someone forever based on potential, if anything the Titans have done that to a fault historically, but it’s not like we haven’t seen anything good from him either. Let’s look at some of the issues that Jake has not “overcome” this year.

*His offfensive line is a living moving sieve.  I think my grandmother could get to Locker if she was stunting an A gap on a 3-4 defense.

*He has a quaterbacks coach calling plays for the first time and previously had an offensive coordinator from the UFL.  That’s right, the UFL.

*He had three career starts before getting his shoulder blown up and missed five games before returning to action.

*The Titans defense has played poorly enough for most of the season, making the offense to play from behind in almost every game, an therefor leaving Jake to force things that aren’t even there.

To some of you these will just be excuses.   I understand that in today’s NFL everyone expects immediate results and quick turnarounds.  For the most part this “success” is a little overblown.  What needs to be decided is whether the team is succeeding because of, with, or in spite of the quarterback.

A coaching change after this season could end Locker’s career before it even begins.  It’s going to be hard enough with a new offensive coordinator as it is.   I would hate to see locker go the way of Alex Smith, who had talent but ended up with 5 coordinators in 5 years.  Consistency and building something long term is underrated in today’s NFL.  I would rather build for the future even if it takes a little longer and truly have a stable base for the long term.  If you like Locker, then I suggest you also root for Munchak to keep his job.

So with that I implore Bud Adams to not throw the baby out with the bath water.

Side note:  I began to do a show and tell of all the “success” stories in the league at quarterback to see how Locker holds up, but it began to turn into it’s own article.  So check back for my next post as we look at all the quick and not so quick turnarounds around the league.  I think you’ll be surprised at what we find, and you may decide to give Locker more time as well!

you can follow me on twitter  @gunnelsj