Second-year quarterback Jake Locker of the Tennessee Titans has made some plays for his team this season, but it’s time to let the veteran Matt Hasselbeck take over for a while. Hasselbeck has led the Titans to two conference wins in 10 days during Locker’s absence, which was caused by a shoulder injury.
He stepped in for Locker early in Week 4; Locker left the game after two passing attempts.
Hasselbeck is 2-1 as a starter, but effectively 2-2 as he played the overwhelming majority of the offensive snaps at quarterback at Houston. The Titans were 1-3 under Locker, or effectively 1-2 if the loss to the Houston Texans is credited to Hasselbeck.
With Hasselbeck under center, the Titans split their last two road games and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers at home in Week 6.
The wins were by a combined total of four points.
Tennessee’s win with Locker at the helm came in thrilling fashion in Week 3. Locker threw for 378 yards and two touchdowns—but the win was ultimately boosted by massive plays that can’t be expected on a weekly basis. The Titans scored five touchdowns in that overtime game; they averaged 74.8 yards per TD play.
That’s not normal.
By ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer’s account (via Nate Davis of USA Today), Hasselbeck would take a return to the bench gracefully—but he shouldn’t have to. He gives Tennessee the best chance to win.
Locker brings rushing skills to the table as a quarterback that Hasselbeck doesn’t. Yet, the Titans have run the ball better when the veteran was in the game than the sophomore.
Even Chris Johnson has been able to find more opportunities to move the ball on the ground with Hasselbeck calling the signals for Tennessee. After accumulating a miserable 45 yards on 33 carries in the season’s first three weeks with Locker at QB, Johnson has topped 90 rushing yards in three of four games that Hasselbeck was the primary field general.
If the change in the quarterback play is what opened up holes through which Johnson could dart, Tennessee has to consider keeping the veteran under center.
Adding a rushing threat like that makes an offense more dangerous and allows the team’s defense to rest up—two positive side-effects that could help a team win games.