All throughout the offseason we were told the decision on the starting quarterback would come down to who offered the best chance to win games.
If Jake Locker is the Tennessee Titans’ best chance, it already seems realistic to wonder whether they have any chance at all.
This is not to say that Locker is to blame for the 0-2 start. He certainly is not the only one.
Given that this team has been outscored a total of 72-23, there’s more than enough blame to be spread among the entire roster, the coaching staff, the personnel department and possibly even the guy who cuts the grass at the practice facility.
Through the first two starts of his career, though, it is tough to tell how the 2011 first-round draft pick actually has helped his team’s chances other than the fact that he has extended a couple drives with his feet. He is, after all, the Titans’ leading rusher with a whopping 32 yards.
Locker has completed a decent percentage of his passes. He has been sacked only twice even though he’s spent the majority of both games in obvious passing situations. He’s thrown only one interception each game, which is not awful.
What we have not seen from him is the competitiveness that often is mentioned among his greatest assets. To be more specific, he and the Titans have not answered the opposing offenses.
Five times against New England (a 34-13 loss) he started a drive after the Patriots put points on the board. Two of those drives ended with punts from well shy of midfield. One ended with an interception. One ended with a turnover on downs and once resulted in a field goal.
Things were not much different during Sunday’s 38-10 stinker at San Diego.
The Chargers took the opening kickoff and drove to a touchdown. Locker threw an interception on the Titans’ second offensive play. San Diego scored another touchdown on its second possession and the Titans went three-and-out capped by an incomplete pass. Immediately after the deficit grew to 17-0, he threw four passes — three of them incomplete — in advance of a punt.
Tennessee did answer a third-quarter Chargers’ touchdown with one of its own, but the majority of the credit for that has to go to Lavelle Hawkins and his 71-yard kickoff return.
It is clear that for this team to have a chance to win games, it has to keep them close. Chris Johnson is not the explosive, game-breaking threat he was in 2009. Kenny Britt is nowhere near the big-play receiver he was before the knee injury that ended his 2011 season early in the third contest.
These Titans can’t count on points coming quickly or in bunches. They have to be precise and methodical in order to score, particularly when the other team has just put points on the board. In failing to do so, they allowed the Patriots and Chargers to build and maintain momentum long enough that it became virtually impossible to answer.
To be fair, it’s not as if they were a dominant offense last season when Matt Hasselbeck was the quarterback. Yet four of their seven losses in 2011 were by a touchdown or less as were five of their victories, which included three game-winning drives in the fourth quarter.
There was a chance to win almost every game of 2011. As a result, Tennessee still had a chance to make the playoffs all the way to the final contest.
One of the most talked-about stats of the last week was the fact that, since 1990, only 12 percent of all the teams that started 0-2 made the playoffs.
Chances are the Titans’ chances aren’t even that good at the moment.