Monday, June 25, 2012

Titans Talk: Hasselbeck or Locker?


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
Passing--- 319-518(61.6%)/3,571YDs/223.2YPG/18TDs/14INTs/82.4RATING
Rushing--- 20ATT/52YDs/2.6YPC/0TDs/4FUM/1LOST


THE YOUNG GUN: JAKE LOCKER #10
Passing--- 34-56(51.5%)/542YDs/180.7YPG/4TDs/0INTs/99.4RATING
Rushing--- 8ATT/56YDS/7.0YPC/1TD/0FUM/0LOST


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). 


My Prediction:


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)



10 comments:

  1. Hasselbeck... I like Locker and want to see him start the season, but Munchack has the responsiblity to put the best option out there on the field and at this point with his experience and supporting cast, as much as I hate to say it Hasselbeck is the better choice. Not only does he know how to disect defenses better and exploit they're weaknesses, but he will also know how to milk all that talent and get the most out of each of his teammates. Not that Locker can't learn how to lead the Titans but right here right now Hasselbeck is the man who gives us the best chance to win...

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  2. In just one full season of work, Hasselbeck already has his WR corps decrying talk of Peyton Manning being their quarterback.

    While it does seem a little far-fetched to think Matt is better than Peyton, it does show (at least from a cohesive standpoint) that Hasselbeck has something going on with these young and talented receivers.

    Matt has always had major synergy with tall, hulking wide receivers, and that's no different in Tennessee. Britt, Washington and Williams were all successful at different points last season, and I don't see that changing this year.

    It's Hasslebeck's job to lose. If the Titans fall out of contention by mid-season, they'll shift their focus and prepare for next year. However, I think the Titans have a legitimate shot at the AFC South crown this year, and if that's the case, you play the veteran, regardless of "how good" the rookie is.

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  3. I think Hasselback gives you all the best chances to win but Locker is the future and needs experience. I really think the Titans could start out 1-5 or 2-4 regardless of your quarterback. That's not an easy schedule for anybody to deal with.

    If I were a Titans fan, I would go with Locker. You never know, he could do what Roethlisburger did with my Steelers. Win and win and win in his first year as a starter. He has the tools to be successful. It's doubtful but your receiving core superb and they need to build chemistry. I think it's time to look ahead at the future.

    Although, I disagree with Marlowe about the Titans having a legitimate shot at the AFC South Crown. The Houston Texans are the overwhelming favorite of the AFC South. In fact, I think they could take the AFC and go to the Super Bowl. The Titans just have a tough beginning schedule to start thinking division title.

    However, Tennessee should manage to go at least 3-1 against the Jaguars and Colts.

    In my opinion the Titans are one year away from contending for a division title.

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  4. I know its a tough schedule early, but if we hit a run mid season and make a push to the playoffs, the titans will have momentum in the postseason. That means more than having a top record. Look at past super bowl champions....did they have the best record? No, but they had momentum going forward and I think the Titans have a chance at that.

    Hass is the best option at the moment, he has to lose the job somehow for Locker to come in. But I dont think Hasselbeck can have another season like he did last year...not many QBs perform like that at 37

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  5. I must admit, what Wade Phillips did for the Texans last season was no anomaly, and that running game was one of the best in the NFL, but I'm not ready to hand the division (or the conference, for that matter) to the Texans just yet.

    They have a ridiculously terrible problem in staying healthy, as Schaub, Johnson, Foster and Daniels all saw the bench last season in huge chunks. I know they finished out 10-6, but last year's schedule was cake compared to this year. It is possible that this year's AFC South winner goes 9-7, just by sheer schedule difficulty.

    After an entire offseason to game plan and watch tape, I just don't see the Texans' offense really surprising anyone this year. Outside of Johnson, there is no one at WR that can strike fear into the heart of a defense.

    We'll see though...the Titans/Texans rivalry has developed into a grand one.

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  6. Are you people forgetting that Titans beat Houston in their last game? How soon we forget.

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