The Tennessee Titans finished the 2013 NFL Season with a disappointing 7-9 record, and, in all honesty, should have gone to the playoffs. Horrible special teams play and horrible play by a back-up quarterback led to five of those losses. With the season now over, many are calling for a change at the quarterback position for the Titans.
I disagree with drafting a quarterback in the first round and starting again from scratch. With the playoff ready defense that Tennessee already possesses and Chris Johnson’s decent running capabilities, there’s no need to make a rash decision like that. Jake Locker is extremely talented and showed signs of major improvement before being injured at the beginning of the season.
I don’t agree with all of these people spouting that the Titans should get rid of Locker. Yes, he’s prone to injuries, but when he does get playing time he’s played really well. The only really poor game he had this season was against the San Francisco 49ers right after coming back from injury, which brings us to the main issue with Tennessee’s quarterback situation. When Locker was injured, the Titans had to turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick is an okay NFL quarterback, but has a tendency to turn the ball over. Before he came to the Titans he threw 92 touchdowns to 81 interceptions; this season he threw 14 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. Not only does this tendency for interceptions make you question management’s ability to make good decisions, it highlights the need for, not a starting quarterback, but a back-up quarterback.
The 2014 NFL Draft is going to be full of quarterbacks. Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, Georgia’s Aaron Murray, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Fresno State’s Derek Carr are all going to be top targets for NFL teams. However, the best fit for the Titans will be a quarterback that’s not been on the national radar that often, the South Carolina Gamecocks’ Connor Shaw.
Shaw has played in the SEC for a long time without making a splash, because South Carolina is known for its defense and run game more than its passing. Shaw doesn’t throw for ridiculous numbers; this season he only threw for just over 2,000 yards. However, Shaw is efficient, extremely accurate and isn’t afraid to run for a first down. He reminds me of a bigger, tougher Alex Smith. This season, he threw just one interception to 21 touchdowns. Let me repeat that; that’s one interception in the SEC.
If you look at the Titans’ roster, they have enough youth and talent to be in the playoffs for the next four or five years. Where Tennessee is lacking most is its depth at numerous positions. The Titans can use their early draft picks on top players that they need and use a later pick on Shaw to fill their quarterback needs. Shaw is going to have success in the NFL, whether Tennessee drafts him or not. The Titans need to take a look at this ignored talent from South Carolina, because, as they found out this season, a talented back-up is just as important as a talented starter.