Tennessee Titans: Webster's Gut Feeling Is Probably Hasselbeck
Titans general manager Ruston Weber told the Tennesseean's John Glennon that both Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck are doing great in training camp, but that the decision on who to start will probably come down to a "gut feeling."
Now I'm not privy to any confidential information, but I'd hedge my bets that Hasselbeck will start game one for the Titans.
There are a few reasons why I think this is all but assured.
First, the Titans are going to put in the quarterback that gives them the best chance to win. What that really means is the best chance to win game one, which happens to be against the Patriots.
I seriously doubt that the Titans front office will want to let Locker start off his career in a shootout with Tom Brady and the defending AFC Champion Patriots. As good as Tennessee's defense should be next season, the Patriots will drop a lot of points on them.
That means that the Titans will have to answer with a lot of points. As great as Locker looked last season, I don't know if he's ready to hang with the likes of Tom Brady. Hasselbeck, on the other hand, has done it before. He gives the Titans a better chance at upsetting the Patriots.
Another reason I think that Hasselbeck will start is because he had a good season last year. Hasselbeck looked a little worn out at the season's end, but he still averaged 282 yards per game before his first injury.
Who should start against the Patriots?
Later into the season, Hasselbeck's age showed a little, but I believe that with a full offseason, he'll look more like he did in the first part of the season than in the latter part. When you pair that with his experience, he seems like a much better looking option.
Finally, there is less risk with Hasselbeck. Tennessee's schedule for the first part of the season is brutal. First they host the Patriots, then they go on the road to face the Chargers, then host the Lions, then visit the Texans. That will not be pretty.
Starting Locker, the worst-case scenario is that he stumbles out of the gate, the Titans lose all four games and the staff puts Hasselbeck in. If that happened, a small, but very loud group would already start hollering bust.
Even if he didn't play that badly, four losses right out of the gate isn't good for anyone's confidence and that could hurt Locker's further development.
However, with Hasselbeck, that worst-case scenario ends in Jake Locker coming in to face the Minnesota Vikings shortly before getting to also play the Bills and the Colts. They'd win at least a few of those games, which would be a much better way for Locker to start his career.
After all, this season is probably going to be a throwaway anyway. The Titans are currently the underdog in 10 games and the Texans are coming off a year where they won the division without their starting quarterback. The Titans will not be seeing playoffs next season, so why take an unnecessary risk?
Last, but not least, the Titans staff, if nothing else, is conservative. They want to emphasize the run on offense and prevent big plays on defense. They drafted guys based on motor and intangibles as much as anything else. They are an old school program.
Being an old school conservative group of coaches, I expect them to make the safe move and start Hasselbeck.
As much as Weber says that the decision will come down to a gut feeling, I have a gut feeling that the coaching staff will end up picking what's tried and true over a big gamble.
That said, you never know what could happen in training camp. Locker could explode and start doing a Steve Young impression, but until then, I'm putting my money on Hasselbeck to get the nod.
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