Since nothing has changed, nothing should change in regard to the Tennessee Titans quarterback situation.
That’s the way former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski sees it. Jaworski believes that Jake Locker, the Titans’ first-round draft pick a year ago, should spend at least one more year as the backup to veteran Matt Hasselbeck.
“It’s a great dynamic,” Jaworski said after a recent Middle Tennessee appearance. “I’m a little bit of old school when I look at the quarterback position. Now, I’m not saying I’m right or wrong, but I like a young guy learning — learning how to be a pro, learning the system.
“I know there’s been the Peyton Mannings and the Mark Sanchez’s, these guys who have been thrown in in their first years and they’ve blossomed. But I think there’s more guys that have been thrown in there and got the crap beat out of them and never fulfilled what they could have been.”
Locker was chosen eighth overall and was the second of six quarterbacks taken in the first or second round last April.
The other three first-round selections all started at least 10 games, led by offensive rookie of the year Cam Newton, who started all 16 for Carolina. Second-round choice Andy Dalton also started all 16 for Cincinnati.
Locker appeared in just five games and threw 66 passes. By comparison, Newton threw 40 or more in three different contests.
“I don’t think people really know [Locker] yet, and they got flashes of seeing some great stuff by a young quarterback that’s going to be very good for a long time,” coach Mike Munchak said following the season. “So I think that’s exciting. That position is such a key position as you watch the league turn — the numbers quarterbacks are putting up, especially the top three or four guys in the league.
“… We’ve got a couple of them on our team.”
Hasselbeck signed as a free agent with the Titans last August, more than three months after Locker was drafted. At 36 years old, he had one of his best statistical seasons and started all 16 games for just the third time in his career.
His deal was for three years but seemingly with no guarantee that he would be the starter that entire time.
“[A] positive was knowing Jake Locker was the quarterback of the future, and I know what kind of guy he is,” Hasselbeck said recently.
Whatever the plan was it nearly was scrapped recently when the Titans attempted to sign Manning after the Indianapolis Colts released him.
With Manning’s ultimate decision to go instead to Denver, it’s back to business as usual for Tennessee.
Munchak publicly has said he expects Hasselbeck and Locker to compete to be the starter this offseason. Jaworski, who became a starter in his fourth season, believes things are fine as they are.
“I think when you bring in a Matt Hasselbeck, who’s a rock solid, veteran NFL quarterback,” Jaworski said. “I think that will make Jake Locker so much better when he becomes the starting quarterback. Matt is a grounded guy. He’s a teacher. He has no ego. He knows how to be a pro. When you look at Locker, I think he’s learned a lot in his rookie season from a guy like Matt.”