Jake Locker is currently embroiled in one of the biggest, if not the biggest, position battles in the NFL this preseason.
Locker enters his second season with the Tennessee Titans, battling with veteran Matt Hasselbeck for the starting quarterback position. Whether or not they have faith in Hasselbeck to lead them to the playoffs is irrelevant. Hasselbeck turns 37 in September, meaning he won't be around for too much longer. Come Week 1, Jake Locker should be the starting quarterback.
Locker just fits in the Titans offense better than Hasselbeck does. Locker can throw the ball well and also is known to be an elusive runner. That opens up the Titans offense a lot more with bootlegs, roll outs and play-action passes.
After a few runs, defenses will start to respect Locker by putting a spy on him, taking a man away from coverage, which opens up passing lanes. Hasselbeck has never really been respected as a scrambling quarterback, and I don't see that happening this season, or ever.
The Titans were down 23-3 when Locker came in against the Falcons. He nearly lead them to a comeback in that game, throwing two touchdown passes before the team inevitably fell short.
Against the Saints, he had a stellar game, and in the end, led the Titans all the way to about the 1-yard line before getting sacked on the final play of the game.
Although he wasn't able to lead them to victory in either game, both games really showed that Locker has what it takes to lead this offense. With guys like Chris Johnson, Kenny Britt (if he can get his act together), Nate Washington, and Jared Cook, Locker definitely has the tools to succeed this season, and in the future.
It's been said that Hasselbeck should start because of the tough early part of the schedule that the Titans will have to go through, as they face the Patriots, Chargers, Lions and Texans to star the season.
On the contrary, if Locker gets a chance to face quality opponents like this, it could definitely help him grow as a quarterback, especially facing off with guys like Tom Brady (Patriots), Philip Rivers (Chargers), Matthew Stafford (Lions) and Matt Schaub (Texans).
Whether or not he wins the starting job in the preseason, the Titans need to realize that, sooner or later, they're going to have to give Locker a chance to face tough competition as a starting quarterback. They drafted him eighth overall in the 2011 draft for a reason, and that's because they believed that he could be what Steve McNair was and what Vince Young wasn't—a franchise quarterback.
Locker has the talent to be a starter in the NFL. The Titans have the talent for him to succeed. He just needs to take advantage of both his talent and the talent around him, and that starts with him winning this quarterback battle.
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