Tennessee Titans: How Much Patience Should Jake Locker Be Given in 2013?

Chad MintonCorrespondent IJanuary 16, 2013

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 23: Jake Locker #10 of the Tennessee Titans looks for an open receiver against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on December 23, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Tom Lynn /Getty Images)
Tom Lynn/Getty Images

One of the big reasons why the Tennessee Titans failed to build off their 9-7 record from last season was due to the inconsistency of the offense.

Jake Locker came into the 2012 season with high expectations as he was entering his first full season as a starter, but he failed to show any progress from his limited action in his rookie season.

Now the Titans have to figure out how to mold this offense around Locker's strength—making plays outside of the pocket.

Locker made it painfully clear that he's just not ready to be an effective pocket passer in the NFL.

However, the Titans have to show patience with Locker's growth heading into the offseason. To be quite honest, they really don't have a choice at the moment.

The Titans can't afford to throw away such a high draft pick after just two seasons, so that option is off the table.

After all Locker basically went through his rookie year in 2012, and he did show glimpses of hope. It also didn't help that the defense was historically bad, and there wasn't a dependable running game to lean on.

If the Titans can address other weak spots on the roster, then Locker could have a big bounce-back year in 2013.

That means figuring out a way to bring a better rushing attack that doesn't put the offense behind the chains on second and third downs. Fixing that glaring problem will do wonders for Locker's confidence and his threat to run on opposing defenses.

Defenses don't respect Locker's athleticism as much when the offense isn't productive on first down, and that forced Locker into making very difficult throws.

Locker also needs a more effective offensive coordinator than what he's had during his brief time in the NFL.

Chris Palmer struggled to put together a solid offensive system during his time as Tennessee's offensive coordinator, which led to his firing late in the season.

Finally, we still don't know how much Locker's shoulder injury really hampered his abilities. It's only  speculation as to how different the season would've played out for Locker if that injury in the the game against the Texans would've never happened.

Locker threw for nearly 400 yards against the Lions the week before his injury, but he never looked comfortable after that.

Even though it's never good to use excuses, there's definitely plenty to bring up if you're defending Locker's case as being the future of this franchise at quarterback.

At this point, the Titans have to keep their fingers crossed that Locker continues to develop this offseason.

With that said, the Titans have to surround Locker with better coaches and personnel if they're ever going to get the most out of his skill set.