The Titans’ QB battle between veteran Matt Hasselbeck and youngster Jake Locker was really more a case of the organization trying to determine when Locker would be ready to take the reins.
After a strong showing in training camp, Locker convinced the Titans that time is now.
Make no mistake: there will be bumps along the way. Locker’s ability to read defenses and knowledge of the offense remain far behind Hasselbeck, who consistently has been one of the more prepared QBs in the NFL over the past decade. But that’s hardly an indictment of Locker; the savvy Hasselbeck is arguably the smartest person in the Titans’ locker room.
Still, the Titans believe Locker’s even-keeled demeanor and short memory will serve him well as he weathers the inevitable early storms.
We hear that, despite Locker having a bit of a gunslinger mentality, the Titans don’t think he will make the same mistake twice. He has been described as the same guy from one play to the next, a crucial quality at the most important position on the field.
Of course, what makes Locker so intriguing — and what gave him a decided advantage over Hasselbeck — is his big-play potential. No one will question Locker’s cannon for an arm and 4.4 40-time speed gives him a much higher ceiling than Hasselbeck. The Titans love Locker’s ability to extend plays and throw on the move, but the importance of him understanding situations will be critical to his development.
There is a time to try and make something out of nothing and there is a time to live to fight another day. The Titans thought Locker’s sound decision making was a strength throughout the preseason, but it’s a different ballgame altogether when the bullets start flying in the regular season. Knowing when to take off, when to slide, when to run out of bounds in order to protect his body are just a few things to watch with Locker early in his career.