Tennessee Titans: Has Matt Hasselbeck Proved His Case to Be Starter?

Chad Minton@@chad_mintonCorrespondent IOctober 15, 2012

Matt Hasselbeck is two passing TDs away from reaching 200 for his career
Matt Hasselbeck is two passing TDs away from reaching 200 for his careerFrederick Breedon/Getty Images

In a perfect world for the Tennessee Titans, Jake Locker would've avoided injury and continued to improve as an NFL starting quarterback.

That would've left no room for question as to whether or not Matt Hasselbeck still has what it takes to lead a team to the playoffs.

However, it's not a perfect world, and the veteran Hasselbeck has at least somewhat reminded everyone that he still can win games as a starting quarterback.

Hasselbeck is currently the oldest starting quarterback in the NFL, and the question is can he get the 2-4 Titans back into the playoff hunt. An upset win over the Pittsburgh Steelers certainly helped his cause, but he has to do a lot more before head coach Mike Munchak will feel obligated to demote his franchise quarterback back to a backup role.

Munchak has already stated that Locker's starting job is waiting for him when he returns.

Locker was coming off his best performance in his short NFL career in a thrilling win over the Detroit Lions before re-injuring his non-throwing shoulder against the Houston Texans the following week. There's a good chance that Locker will return on October 21 to take on the Buffalo Bills on the road, and the Titans will need another solid offensive showing to get a tough road win.

The bottom line is you can't overreact to the big win over the aging Steelers. And it could be argued that Locker would've been even more productive than Hasselbeck, who put up rather modest numbers against Pittsburgh.

It still has to be Locker's job whenever he comes back from injury, especially considering how many points the Titans defense has been giving up on a consistent basis this season. The Week 6 win over the Steelers marked the first time that the Titans gave up fewer than 30 points this season.

The Titans need Locker's dynamic skill set to win some of these shootout-style games that are going to happen against some of the explosive offenses they'll see in upcoming weeks. Don't let the Bills struggles fool you. They can put up their fair share of points, as can the Indianapolis Colts, who follow Buffalo on the Titans schedule.

The only way to justify leaving Hasselbeck in as the starter would be if he were to string off five or six wins in a row and get the Titans pushing for a playoff spot late in the season.

That certainly has no chance of happening because Locker should be back in a week or two.

According to a prominent Nashville doctor who has an expertise in shoulder treatment, it's very likely that this same injury will occur to Locker again. It would just take one wrong hit. If that happens, then Hasselbeck would probably get the reins for the remainder of the season, as Locker would possibly need surgery.

With that said, the Titans are very lucky to have such a reliable backup quarterback to turn to in Hasselbeck. For the Titans sake, he hopefully realizes what is his role for this team as his fine NFL career draws to a close.

What Hasselbeck did by using his veteran leadership against the Steelers was leave the Titans with another gasp of air heading into this mini-bye week to prepare for the Bills.

He managed the game effectively, much like Kerry Collins did for the Titans for a few seasons.

Nothing more, nothing less.