Jake Locker's Growth Will Be Key for Tennessee Titans in 2013

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Jake Locker's Growth Will Be Key for Tennessee Titans in 2013
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Jake Locker will be looking to make big plays with some of the new names on offense in 2013.

Much can be said about having a young quarterback starting for any franchise in the NFL. In a day and age where the learning curve seems to get steeper and steeper, but the need to expedite the youth movement of NFL rookies becomes more critical, it's hard to not push a guy to start and contribute on day one.

However, quarterbacks—especially mobile quarterbacks—have been breaking the conventional quarterback and rookie mold over the last few years.

In the case of Jake Locker, the quarterback of the Tennessee Titans, he had an opportunity to sit behind the veteran leadership of Matt Hasselbeck—now a backup with the Indianapolis Colts after having been released by the Titans during the offseason in favor of a younger, cheaper backup in Ryan Fitzpatrick. 

In a league where the letters on their shield are oft-jokingly referred to as the "Not For Long" league, it will be crucial for Locker to develop and win games in the 2013-2014 season.

No longer can he manage games, fall to injury or be unseated for any amount of time by Fitzpatrick off the bench due to poor play on the field.

Looking at the incredibly small sample of data from Locker's starts since being drafted, it is incredibly difficult to really assess his body of work thus far.

Having only been a starter since last season, and then enduring a nagging shoulder injury, he never really got a chance to build on continuity and consistency in his first year as the No. 1 QB on the depth chart.

This year will be vastly different.

In a year when we've seen Chris Palmer ousted as offensive coordinator and Dowell Loggains named as the new long-term OC, change is certainly in the air over at Baptist Sports Park.

Just as recently as this past week, Titans general manager Ruston Webster told TitansOnline.com that the team is essentially implementing a brand new offensive system. 

Tom Lynn/Getty Images
CJ and the running game will be crucial in taking pressure off Locker in 2013.

It goes without saying that this system will be more similar to that of late former Titans OC Mike Heimerdinger—and a system that will benefit Locker and his development with quick outs and screens to RB Chris Johnson and new Titans TE Delanie Walker.

Furthermore, the Titans are sure to make use of the pistol-style offense that wreaked havoc on defensive planning in the NFL last year in San Francisco and Seattle

With a mobile quarterback in Locker and a home run hitter in CJ2K, the possibilities for the Titans could be endless. They have continually added pieces to the offensive line (see: Chance Warmack as the Titans' first pick in this year's draft) and even more offensive firepower with Justin Hunter, the fast and athletic wideout from the University of Tennessee. 

In the second part of the Titans' offensive preview for 2013, we will dive into more of what the schemes could look like and how they will be geared toward Locker's development and the hopeful overall success.

Much can be said about the lackluster defense—especially the secondary—of the Titans in 2012. However, had the offense been able to control time of possession and stay on the field more, converting third downs and red-zone possessions, the season could have turned out differently.

Will head coach Mike Munchak and staff survive the 2013 season?

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It's a make-or-break year for Locker, Mike Munchak and the Tennessee Titans' current management. Credit should be given to Webster and Munchak for doing what they think is going to be a sure-fire approach in this upcoming year and beyond, and pulling out all the stops to get there.

In the "Not For Long" league, let's hope the moves pay dividends for management, coaches, players and fans this year, or the team as we know it won't be there for long—Jake Locker included.

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