Good news for the rest of the AFC South; according to the local newspaper in Tennessee, Matt Hasselbeck is expected to QB1 when the Titans break camp this fall.
Before I get into the specifics, the reason I say it is good news for the rest of the AFC South is because I believe they have enough talent on the roster to challenge Houston for the division in 2012. But I also believe that Locker, not Hasselbeck, gives them a better opportunity for that.
Hasseleck started off red hot in 2011, I will not deny that. But then what happened? He came back down to what he was expected to be; a lower-tier quarterback at this stage of his career.
He still turned the ball over 15 times and had a quarterback rating over 90 just three times over the final 13 games of the 2011 season. And one of those was against a Houston team that was resting their starters in the regular season finale.
Now, you have Jake Locker, who is young and talented, but inexperienced, I realize. But he could be the shot of energy and youth that this team needs. And learning from a guy like Hasselbeck coaching him could be a boost to his development. He only started 3 games in 2011, but he posted a rating of 102.4 in those games with 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions all the while completing 54% of his passes. While not eye popping, they were pretty good for a rookie thrown into the game unexpectedly after Hasselbeck got hurt.
More importantly, Locker showed poise and didn’t look like the game was too fast for him. A couple of those games were against tough, fast defenses (Atlanta, New Orleans), too. In short, I think this would be the wrong decision as I am in the rare position of not wanting to sit the rookie to develop him slowly.
The coaching staff could just be trying to fire up the youngster and make him compete harder, but when you have Adam Schefter, Former Titans beat writer Paul Kuharsky and the current beat writer all saying that Hasselbeck will get the ball in week 1, I’m inclined to believe that’s the truth.
But Locker should take this as a challenge regardless. He might not be the starter out of camp, but I’m willing to bet he will by the end of the regular season. Be it from injury or from poor performance on Hasselbeck’s behalf.