Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
The Tennessee Titans surprised the NFL by becoming 3-1 this past Sunday with a 38-13 stomping over the New York Jets.
The win was deflated after Jake Locker was hit late by Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples. No flag was thrown on the play. Titans fans could only see Locker stiff as a board laid flat on his back and grabbing at his hip. He was taken off the field on a stretcher. The biggest part to the Titans being 3-1 to start the season was how well Locker has progressed each week by not turning the ball over or making any costly mistakes.
Locker has been diagnosed with a sprained hip and sprained knee. Reports have him listed out for a “few weeks.” Jake is a great person on and off the field. Hopefully, everyone’s prayers are with Jake to make a speedy recovery. The Tennessean reports that Locker has already started rehabbing his hip and knee.
This injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. Locker was playing so well as he had seven total touchdowns and zero turnovers before the injury. The other side of that would be the Titans confront the toughest part of their schedule in the next three weeks as they play the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs at home, The undefeated Seattle Seahawks in Seattle and the reigning NFC champion San Francisco 49ers at home. Then comes the bye week.
The Titans backup quarterback for these games will be nine-year veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick has experience and is easily one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league. It’s still depressing but it’s not Rusty Smith at the helm.
Fitzpatrick is known for his turnovers and noodle arm; the complete opposite of Locker.
Fitzpatrick must knock off the rust and get as many reps in as possible before the Titans take on the undefeated Chiefs whom Fitzpatrick has played three time in the last three years while being the starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs was the must-win game of the year before Locker was hurt and I believe the Titans would win this game if Locker was playing this Sunday. The Titans must deal with what they have now and that is a quarterback who makes the playbook more limited.
When it comes down to it, the Titans defense has played amazing and a big part of that was Locker’s ability to keep them off the field. This will change with a turnover-prone backup and an offensive line that cannot create the right holes for Chris Johnson.
Or is it Johnson who needs to step it up?
The Titans must win one of these three games to have a shot at making the playoffs. Whatever time table is given for Locker, he will not practice for those weeks. He may not be the same player when he returns. Fans must have faith.
Fitzpatrick has what it takes to beat the teams the Titans should beat, but he won’t win a big game. Expect a three-game losing streak all the way to the bye week unless they get hit with some incredible luck. If the Titans enter the bye week at 3-4, they would need to win seven out of the next nine games to have 10 wins on the season. That includes a game against the Denver Broncos.
The Titans best hope is that Fitzpatrick can do just enough to sneak in a win against a team that has a bad day within these next three weeks. Hopefully, Locker returns after the bye week to take on the Jeff Fisher-led St. Louis Rams.
Can Fitzpatrick win one of these next three games? Comment below.