Jake Locker Must Prove Himself in Week 3 Matchup After Being Named Starter
Jake Locker was named the Tennessee Titans' starting quarterback this week, (h/t ESPN.com) and he'll make his debut with that distinction tonight against the Arizona Cardinals. It'll be his first chance to show head coach Mike Munchak he made the correct decision and prove to Titans' fans he can be a viable starter.
Locker demonstrated his potential in limited action last year, throwing four touchdowns and no interceptions while filling in for an injured Matt Hasselbeck in three games.
Now, the team is his, and though the team has a few weaknesses, it can undoubtedly contend for a playoff spot in 2012.
What To Watch
First and foremost, pay attention to Locker's accuracy—it's always been his most glaring issue. During his career at the University of Washington, his completion percentage was a shade below 54 percent. He completed 58.2 percent of his passes in 2009, the best completion percentage as a collegian.
Though he only threw the ball 66 times for the Titans last year, he managed a rather disappointing but not necessarily surprisingly 51.5 percent completion percentage.
Regardless of how dynamic Chris Johnson is this season, Locker has to complete passes more frequently.
The Cardinals don't have an exceptionally stout secondary, but Patrick Peterson, Adrian Wilson and William Gay certainly will provide Locker with a tough preseason test.
Outside of his accuracy, pay attention to Locker's scrambling ability and more specifically, how quick he is to leave the pocket.
Many times, a young and athletic quarterback is quick to leave the pocket if his first or second read is covered. The best signal-callers stand in and work through their progressions before even contemplating taking off.
Locker is a fantastic athlete and has deceptive running capabilities.
There's no doubt he can be a multi-dimensional threat from his QB spot, but gliding in the pocket to allow plays to develop is more important than anything.
What To Expect
As is usually the case with Locker, expect some absolutely jaw-dropping throws and some questionable ones.
He's not always sporadic, but he's far from consistent with his passes and even his decision making. His live-arm and anticipation often lead to on-the-money lasers, it's when he's panicked that he launches a duck into double coverage.
Locker's learned a lot in the past year and is ready to start.
Expect the Titans' coaching staff to give him some easy-read play-action bootlegs or screen passes to raise his confidence level.
After that, they'll allow him to show off his strong arm with a few deep shots down the field to his pass-catches.
Expect a completion percentage just below 60 percent, a touchdown pass and an interception.
Locker will chip in another 20 or 30 yards rushing, too.
He won't turn in an absolutely outstanding performance, but he'll demonstrate enough to make Munchak and Titans fans breathe easy.
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