This past weekend I was able to enjoy the Brothers of the Sun concert at LP Field that featured Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney with guests Jake Owen, the smokin' Grace Potter, and the beautiful Faith Hill. During Tim McGraw's encore performance of "I Like It, I Love It", Titans quarterback and current starter, Matt Hasselbeck, took the stage to throw out signed footballs in the crowd. I then got on twitter to tweet what just took place in front of the 50,000+ in attendance and something caught my eye. Hasselbeck was trending in Nashville, but majority of the tweets were asking why Jake Locker wasn't out there with Hass or instead of Hasselbeck all together. So that instantly gave me my next article idea for "Titans Talk"....
|Looking back on the past...looking forward to the future|
The Tennessee Titans have probably one of the most competitive quarterback battles in the NFL for this upcoming season, it just won't have much media attention due to the relatively small market and the fact that Tim Tebow is now a Jet in the largest market. Either way you go about it, strong arguments can be made for both Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker. Do you go with the veteran who just posted 3500 yards or make the transition to the future of the organization? Either one could have a successful season with all the talent that surrounds him, but if you was running the Titans front office, who would you want?
A recent poll of 665 on Bleacher Report indicates that 74% of the fans want Locker under center. That same poll can currently be found on titansonline.com with Jake Locker currently owning 60% of the 16,600 plus votes. And I don't blame them for thinking that, just look at recent young quarterbacks and their success in the league. Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, and Andy Dalton are just a few names that stand out. So does Hasselbeck have a chance? Lets look at the numbers...
2011 STAT COMPARISON
THE VETERAN: MATT HASSELBECK #8
THE YOUNG GUN: JAKE LOCKER #10
In 2011, Matt Hasselbeck brought something to the Titans that they haven't had in nearly twenty years, well ever as the "Titans"...statistically speaking. He led a passing unit that amassed over 3,900 yards in the air, something that hasn't been done in the Titans/Oilers organization since the 1992 season when Warren Moon (2,521) & Cody Carlson (1,710) combined for just over 4,000. But yet, many people are wanting Hasselbeck completely out of the picture. Imagine what he could have done with a healthy Kenny Britt and an effective running game to keep the defense on their toes.
Now I understand that having a young quarterback like Jake Locker brings excitement to the fan base. He has a very strong arm and the mobility to be a very very effective duel threat QB. But with the success from last year's passing attack, plus the addition of Kendall Wright and a healthy Britt, I'm not sure what direction the Titans should take.
If Locker does win the starting position, the running game will definitely become more effective. Everyone remembers who was under center when Chris Johnson ran for 2,006 yards. It obviously wasn't because of Vince Young's passing ability (duh), but because of his capability of getting outside the pocket and letting loose for large runs. It made defenses keep a spy on the QB and containing him from getting on the outside, which allowed for a lot of big holes for CJ.
Locker can bring that same dimension, but with a better arm. Everyone knocks his completion percentage, but a lot of it was the situations he was thrown into and rookie jitters from last year. In college, it was due to his lack of talented receivers, resulting in a lot of drops.
If he leads the passing attack in 2012, it will make six straight seasons that the Titans have had a different quarterback lead the team in yardage. The last time the same player led back to back years was when VY was in charge during 2006 & 2007. Since then, it has gone Collins (08), Young (09), Collins (10), & Hasselbeck (11).
Obviously injuries play a major role on who is the starter throughout the season, but disregarding any type of injury that may happen, here is my prediction...
Matt Hasselbeck is the starter in week one....Jake Locker will finish out the season. After looking over the upcoming schedule, the first four weeks determines Hasselbeck's future. Those first four games include the Patriots (H), Chargers (A), Lions (H), and Texans (A). That's a tough start to the season for any quarterback trying to get a win.
The Patriots are...well the Patriots. The Titans will have to put up points to win that game. We always play bad against the Chargers....can Hasselbeck change that? The Lions are an up and coming solid young team, plus they have Megatron. The Texans had one of the best defenses last season to go along with a pretty good offense. Therefore, these games will be key for last years leading passer. If he doesn't look like the guy he was last year during those four games, Locker will take over week five against the Vikings.
Say Hasselbeck gets past those games at 2-2 or 3-1 and the Titans passing attack has been in the top third of the NFL, he will stay the starter until he has that one "bad game" (2-3 interceptions and under 200 yards). If he was to have that one "bad" game, it will most likely come against the Steelers defense in week six. It doesn't matter how well he plays in the first five weeks, if he blows it against the Steelers, the entire fan base will be calling in radio talk shows and posting on message boards wanting Locker....it's just the nature of our fans in Tennessee when it comes to quarterbacks.
Just think about our past QBs. When McNair was under center and had a bad game, fans were calling for Billy Volek or Neil O'Donnell. When Young had a bad game, people wanted Collins. When Collins had a bad game, fans were wanting Young....and EVEN Rusty Smith. In this franchise, ONE "bad game" can cause for a change and that is one reason why there hasn't been any consistency at the position since former Co-MVP Steve McNair.
The only way Hasselbeck makes it through an entire season will be IF he can consistently put up 200 yards, not turn the ball over, and gives the Titans W's. To me, there is just too many "ifs", especially when the majority of the fanbase wants the future face of the franchise to be in the starting lineup.
Regardless of which quarterback is in the game, they should be able to have success. With weapons like Britt, Wright, Washington, CJ, and a solid PASSING offensive line, either one of these guys could lead this Titans team to the playoffs. I guess we will wait and see which guy Munchak puts in that position.
(Like always, these are just my opinions. Please comment with what you think will happen with the Titans quarterback situation. Do you agree? Disagree? Give me your arguments to why you believe what you believe. I would love any feedback)