This league is all about quick fixes; if something isn’t working, get rid of it. You aren’t afforded a bad day in the NFL. This means that rarely, especially at the quarterback position, are young players actually given the chance to develop into their potential. We forget that these guys aren’t seasoned-vets, but 22-year-old kids who just found life outside of a campus. If you are lucky enough to be a first round draft pick, then you better be ready to play, because there is no easing yourself into this league. Don’t start day one? Don’t compile massive performances? Don’t dominate the league from your first snap? Well, then you’re a bust.
At only 25, Jake Locker is entering his fourth year in the NFL, and following the hiring of Ken Whisenhunt, may be on the verge of his last. After being selected eighth overall in the 2011 draft, Locker has amassed only 17 starts over his three-year career and is verging on bust territory in they eyes of many.
Coming out of college, the main knock on Locker was his accuracy. To this point, he’s definitely not amongst the most accurate quarterbacks in the league, but his ability to locate the ball hasn’t been Locker’s largest concern. His problem has simply been his ability to stay on the field consistently. With major injuries over the last two years, Locker has repeatedly seen significant chunks of his season derailed. To this point in his career, it is nearly impossible to determine just what kind of quarterback Locker is capable of becoming.
As a rookie, Locker didn’t start a single game and only came on in relief of Matt Hasselbeck.
The next year he actually started 11 games, finishing with a record of 4-7 and throwing for 2176 yards and 10 touchdowns, but missed five games in the middle of the season with an injury. Locker looked good pre-injury, acquiring a 63 percent completion percentage and a quarterback rating of 89, but saw his consistency fall apart once he made his return to the starting lineup.
This last season, Locker guided the Titans to a 4-2 record in their first six games, with a 63 percent completion percentage and quarterback rating of 99, before he was injured early in their seventh game. Tennessee was in the thick of the playoff race before Locker went down, but lost seven of their final ten games to finish 7-9 and miss the playoffs.
There is definitely talent in Locker. He was a high draft pick, and would have been higher had he come out the year before. Last season Locker was finally able to show off his potential, and that should only be the tip of the iceberg. Whisenhunt, and everyone else on the Titans staff, should focus on the rest of the team and leave the quarterback position alone. There is no need to draft a quarterback with their first round pick or sign a marquee free agent. Sometimes an organization just has to show a little trust and faith in their players in order to see growth. If Locker can stay on the field for an entire season, we may be looking at him as the surprise breakout player in the NFL next year.
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