For Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker, he’s entering his third NFL season. He’s yet to play a complete season of games and reach his full potential. Many believe 2013 is a make-or-break season for the athletic 25-year-old player.
Rewind three years and Locker was the No. 8 overall pick in the NFL draft from the University of Washington. In his first two seasons over 16 games (11 starts), he amassed 2,718 passing yards, 14 passing touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 78.4 passer rating.
Locker is coming off a 2012 6-10 season where he threw for 2,176 yards (a 56.4% completion), 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He can also run and added 291 yards rushing with one score.
These numbers come after Locker injured his shoulder in Week 1; he re-injured it in the fourth game, missing five additional games. He returned on November 11, playing for the remainder of the season.
Offensive Changes Have Arrived
Locker enters the season healthy and as the team’s starting quarterback. He will play with a team that has undergone some much-needed offensive changes. The Titans has a new offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, who was formerly the team’s quarterbacks coach. His new system will be one like the Houston Texans, reported ESPN.com, that will combine “zone blocking with play-action and designed rollouts and bootlegs.”
This should bode well for the quarterback’s strengths.
Other enhancements include the guard additions of free agent Andy Levitre, formerly of the Buffalo Bills, and the team’s first draft pick (10th overall), Alabama guard Chance Warmack. The Titans also drafted Tennessee rookie wide receiver Justin Hunter. There are hopes that veteran receiver Kenny Britt will return to action his year after his knee problems but he had a rough preseason.
Factor in tight end Delanie Walker, whose return is also a question mark like Britt, and the addition of former New York Jets running back Shonn Greene to complement the team’s running back Chris Johnson. This should give Locker some nice weapons.
The defense is another story and it appears the Titans didn’t make a lot of offseason changes which is unfortunate as they team ranked No. 31 for yards allowed in 2012. They addition of former Baltimore Ravens safety Bernard Pollard represented the only personnel change.
Titans May Have a Plan B
Locker won’t likely be on too tight of a leash but should it need to be pulled in a bit, new back up quarterback, former Buffalo Bill Ryan Fitzpatrick, is impatiently waiting in the wings for an opportunity to play. In the fourth preseason game, Fitzpatrick had a good game, overseeing two touchdown drives. But for now, he’ll be relegated to the second spot, something he’s not used to doing.
And for now, it’s Locker’s job to lose.