Jake Locker? Matt Hasselbeck? Make Lockbeck? Jatt Hasseler?
The interminable battle to be the starting quarterback for the Tennessee Titans is seemingly in its 60th week now, and still no clear winner has been determined.
At this point, most of us would settle for an unclear winner.
Heading into camp, the conventional wisdom was that the difficulty of the Titans early schedule would dictate that Hasselbeck would be the Week 1 starter. David Climer wondered if Locker hasn't flipped that script, but I can't help but suspect we are all just suffering from analysis fatigue at this point.
We so desperately want something new to write about that we start imagining things have changed, when in reality they are progressing exactly as predicted. The drama has been markedly undramatic to this point.
Here's what we know. We know Locker and Hasselbeck are comparable. We know they have different strengths and weaknesses. We know that one is more experienced than the other.
In the end, the coaching staff will have to make this call from their gut. It seems unlikely either man will distinguish himself enough to "win" the job. They are going to have pick the player they trust more.
Or they can perform a genetic experiment and produce Jatt Hasseler.
I wouldn't complain.
Sometimes an Injury Doesn't Hurt
You never want to see anyone suffer an injury. Men's livelihoods are on the line.
Injuries are part of the game, however, and all teams suffer them. For the Titans, losing incumbent center Eugene Amano wasn't the blow that it would seem. Amano was among the worst players in football last year and his run-blocking woes helped to cripple the Titans offense.
There's a good chance that Fernando Velasco was the better player anyway, but teams can be loathe to pull the plug on veterans.
Amano's injury, while unfortunate, probably paved the way for the Titans to play the superior player without any great drop-off except to their depth.
Is CJ2K B-a-c-k?
Announcing the return of Chris Johnson as CJ2K is misleading. He's never going to be "that guy" again. Fisher-ball is gone, and the Titans have moved in a completely different direction with the offense.
Still, if Johnson is focused and engaged and early reports are good, he can still provide game-changing home-run plays.
That was the amazing part of Johnson back when he was the best back in the NFL. Yes, his success rate was never good, but he had the ability to turn games through hitting long runs and taking screens the distance.
The Titans don't need 350 carries from Johnson. They need him to be a threat. If teams fear his ability to break long plays, they'll have to watch him that extra beat on the play-action fakes. No safety wants to turn his back on a guy who could be sprinting past him with the football a moment later.
Johnson is just one more variable that is the quadratic equation that is the Titans' 2012 playoff hopes.
The Defense Is Creative, but Will It Get Results?
It's almost impossible to judge defensive play in training camp because there are so many limits on the amount of contact players can generate.
Then in preseason games, teams often run vanilla schemes to avoid tipping opponents to truly unique facets of their scheme.
That means there is going to be a limit on how much we'll know about the Titans defense heading into Week 1.
Among the more interesting developments has been their decision to try and use Akeem Ayers as a pass-rusher, causing a chain reaction along the line. Paul Kuharsky broke this down expertly, and I'm not going to step on his analysis.
When they failed to upgrade at defensive end in the draft, it became apparent that the Titans would have to use guile to generate pass rush.
What we won't know until Week 1 is if they'll be successful at it.
To solve an equations, you need at least a few of the variables filled in. To this point we still don't know who the quarterback is, if Kenny Britt will play and how much, and how the defense will respond.
That's a lot of unknowns to work out in the next four weeks.
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