Tennessee Titans: Why Matt Hasselbeck Will Start the Season
Jim Brown-US PRESSWIRE
Matt Hasselback came to the Tennessee Titans as a 35-year-old, 13-year veteran and proved in 2011 that he's still able to compete on the professional level.
With second-year quarterback Jake Locker breathing down his neck this offseason and Titans fans eagerly awaiting his arrival as the new starter, Hasselbeck continues to stay cool.
Second-year head coach Mike Munchak has stated that the starting QB job is up for grabs in mini camp. However, there are many reasons why the experienced quarterback will help the Titans and Jake Locker at the start of this season.
Hasselbeck is coming off a 3,500-yard season and spent just about all of it without the Titans' No. 1 receiver in Kenny Britt. Last season, Britt had 14 catches for 271 yards and three touchdowns in the first two weeks before tearing his ACL and MCL.
Also, Nate Washington had one of his best seasons ever. He lead the Titans in receptions with 74, receiving yards with 1,023, touchdowns with seven and averaged 13.8 yards-per-catch.
Furthermore, rookie Kendall Wright will be looking for accurate passing and leadership to get properly acclimated into the Titans' passing attack.
Some of the success from the passing game last season was an attribute of the wideouts, but the Titans' receivers are not going to decipher who will play quarterback this season.
One good sign from Locker was when the Titans called his number this past season, he showed his rocket arm, showed poise and displayed his mobility skills.
What is more impressive was the fact that he threw zero interceptions in 66 pass attempts. Also, Jake Locker threw four touchdowns and rushed for one in the limited action he saw this past season.
Whenever he got the call to come in, excitement poured over the organization. However, he's still young, inexperienced and not needed for the start of the season.
There is no reason to bench a veteran quarterback who had one of his best throwing seasons last year, simply because the Titans are sitting on gold.
This is the same Titans team that was going after Peyton Manning, an experienced quarterback who is arguably more banged up than Hasselbeck—and had no question starting him.
Manning and Hasselbeck surely have differences, but experience at the head of the table is what the Titans need to focus on heading into an inexperienced quarterback-led AFC South.
Blaine Gabbert is struggling to find his groove in Jacksonville, and nobody knows what this season will bring for the most hyped-up rookie in recent memory, Andrew Luck.
By giving Jake Locker more time to learn the "little things" behind the experienced Hasselbeck, he will only improve his decision-making ability before being handed the keys to the car.
One down side to starting Locker is no matter how bad he performs, once he is put in the starting position the Titans can't pull him based off performance. Yes, even if he starts the season 0-8.
He needs to be given the starting role when the time is right, not just because all the other young guns in the NFL are starting, or the fans want to see what he can do.
Starting Locker needs to occur when there is no better option and, right now, Hasselbeck is the best quarterback the Titans have had since Steve McNair was starter.
Let us not forget that under Hasselbeck, the Titans had a winning record of 9-7, missed the playoffs by one win (the only team with a winning record not to reach the playoffs in 2011) and had the most wins since 2008 (13-3).
Let Gabbert and Luck get rocked in the AFC South this season and allow Locker to get smarter for however long the Titans can afford. We might see Locker out on the field before we know it, butMatt Hasselbeck deserves to start for the Tennessee Titans.
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