Jake Locker's rough go against the Bucs wasn't held against him. (Getty Images)
In 2011, the Tennessee Titans made two moves to address their long-shaky quarterback situation: They selected former Washington signal-caller Jake Locker with the eighth overall pick in the draft, and they signed former Seattle Seahawks free agent Matt Hasselbeck to tutor the kid. Locker and Hasselbeck already knew each other, and Hasselbeck was eager to pass along his lessons, so things looked pretty good on paper. It worked on the field as well as Hasselbeck had his best season in years, and Locker got non-starting reps through the season. When the Titans selected Baylor speed receiver Kendall Wright in the first round of the 2012 draft, it seemed to indicate a shift to the thought that Locker would be the man. as he, not Hasselbeck, can make the deep seam throws Wright runs so very well.
That change has not officially happened. Per Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean, Titans head coach Mike Munchak has named Locker the starter going forward. Both Hasselbeck and Locker have struggled this preseason. Hasselbeck threw two picks against the Seahawks in the opener (though only one was really his fault), and he's completed 9 of 14 passes for no touchdowns. Locker has completed just 11 passes in 24 attempts for one pick and no touchdowns. In a 30-7 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Friday, Locker completed just 4 of 11 passes for 21 yards and a pick, but Munchak said after the game that he saw some good things.
"We talked about the [Tampa Bay] game and watched it," Munchak said of Locker. "There are a lot of things that you can turn a lot of ways in games. He made mistakes early but came back and made better decisions later on when he had the same decision to make. Like when he took off and ran, after we converted on a third-and-8 and had a first down and we had a penalty on holding and now we are third-and-18, there was no one open and he got enough yards for us to make the field goal.
"He made good decisions after he made a couple of bad ones. I think you can find the positive in a lot of things and you want to see how guys handle struggling. Like today he had a couple bad practices and how he bounced back. I think that is another part of the equation. You have to look at the quarterback spot for both of those guys and other positions. In this league you are going to have some days and games that will not start the way they want them to. You hope you have less of those than a lot of those, but you have to learn how to deal with that too."
Perhaps the most interesting part of this story is the fact that Titans owner Bud Adams heard about it on the radio. It's generally a good idea to keep your team's owner in on big decisions (especially when the owner is a hands-on guy, as Adams likes to be), but the 89-year-old Adams seemed happy about the move.
"I heard the reports on the radio, and I'm excited about it. I think this kid is going to be a good one. We drafted him a couple of years ago [to be our quarterback]," Adams told Terry McCormick of Titan Insider.
"The other guy [Hasselbeck] is a good one too, but he's starting to get a little age on him," said Adams of the 36-year-old Hasselbeck. "He came in and played well for us last year, but Locker did too when he came in. I'm looking forward to him playing."
Munchak and his staff are probably wise to keep Adams out of the process. You may remember that Adams, who has had his mercurial moments, once ran Jeff Fisher out of town for refusing to start Vince Young. Perhaps Munchak just didn't want Adams to flip him off...
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- Matt Hasselbeck
- Mike Munchak