When the Buffalo Bills released Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jake Locker probably didn’t realize that his performance in 2013 training camp and preseason would have to instantly be flawless. The Tennessee Titans signing Fitzpatrick to a two-year deal made it clear that head coach Mike Munchak means business.
Locker is entering his third season with the Titans. This year will be just his second entering as the starting quarterback. While he has shown flashes of great skill and leadership, he shouldn’t be convinced that he is totally locked in as Tennessee’s starter. Ryan Fitzpatrick is no slouch, and I can guarantee that the former Bill will be doing everything in his power to take the job away from Locker.
Before Fitzpatrick was signed, many thought that this had to be the year that Locker broke out. But after the bold move by the Titans’ staff, you can absolutely consider this a make-or-break season for the 6-foot-3 quarterback, drafted in 2011 out of Washington. He needs to improve on last year’s mediocre performance and prove to everyone that the skill we see can be turned into solid play on the field.
Last year’s season was interrupted by a pesky shoulder injury, only allowing Locker to play in 11 games. During those games, he had a TD-INT ratio of 10-11 and averaged just under 200 yards per game. His QB rating was a mere 74.0 and he fell short of having a 57.0 completion percentage.
Some positives were shown from Locker’s injury-riddled season however as he put up some surprising stats, including a 98.8 passer rating in victories, completing over 61 percent of passes with less than two minutes in a half, and having his best statistics come in crunch time (third down) with an excellent rating on third and long.
The biggest thing Locker has going for him right now is Chris Johnson in the backfield. With the running threat of “CJ2K” in the backfield and the ability to run himself, the offense will be able to be perfectly balanced if he can sustain a good passing game.
The lack of big-name weapons that he has is the only concerning thing as the roster stands right now, but a player that has his skill set should be able to make casual players like Kendall Wright into very good ones.