Despite win, Titans name Locker starting QB
OCT 12, 2012 3:08p ET
Munchak was unsure whether Locker would be healthy enough to play in the Titans’ next game at Buffalo on Oct. 21, but said he was hopeful that Locker would begin to throw again early next week.
“If Jake’s back and he’s healthy this week and we feel he’s ready to play, he’ll play or if it’s next week or whatever it is we would still have him in there,” Munchak said.
Hasselbeck, 37, a three-time Pro-Bowler, was the team’s starter last season when the Titans drafted Locker in the first round. This season in training camp, the organization made the decision that Locker had won the starting job.
In the fourth quarter during Week 1, Locker injured his non-throwing shoulder making a tackle on New England’s Patrick Chung on a play that ended up not counting, as it was later ruled an incomplete pass by replacement officials. Locker did not return to the game, but was throwing again by Tuesday and was cleared to play and did that same week at San Diego.
Locker re-injured the shoulder with a much harder hit in Week 4 against Houston when Texans safety Glover Quin sacked him, unblocked, on a blitz. By the time the Buffalo game rolls around, Locker will have had three weeks in which to recover.
“He’ll get re-checked by the doctors on Monday to see where he’s at,” Munchak said. “If he gets the OK, he’ll start throwing. Pretty much what he did before San Diego, where he was throwing on Tuesday and Wednesday and we go from there. If there’s no setbacks, we continue on. He’s progressing like we had hoped. Now it’s just a matter of seeing how he does come Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and we’ll decide.”
In his four games, Locker posted a rating of 90.2, ranking him 14th in the NFL. Even with Thursday’s win under his belt, Hasselbeck’s 74.1 rating ranks him 28th in the league.
The only possible dilemma for the Titans’ coaching staff on possibly sticking with Hasselbeck is that the offense had mostly struggled through the first five games – with the exception of a 44-41 overtime win over Detroit – but began to show signs of life on Thursday against the Steelers.
The Titans entered the game averaging 305.0 yards per game (26th in the league) and were ranked 30th in rushing at 65.4 yards per game. Against the Steelers, whose defense was ranked fifth in the league, the Titans posted 359 yards, including 94 on the ground.
Munchak said he thinks the Titans are on the verge of showing what they’re capable of.
“When you’re not winning, people aren’t real worried about you — what we have on offense,” he said of opposing defenses. “People who watch you on tape are. They don’t want ( Chris Johnson) to bust open against us or ‘Hey, ( Kenny) Britt’s getting a little healthier,’ but until we do it on film — I think you’re seeing glimpses of that happening.”
Perhaps the biggest positive was that Johnson, the team’s highest-paid player whose production was abysmal in the first three games, has been strong in two of the last three. Johnson rushed for only 45 yards combined in the Titans’ first three games but rushed for 141 yards on 25 carries at unbeaten Houston in a game that was close for three quarters and on Thursday he ran for 91 yards on 19 carries (4.8 yards per carry).
“I think it helped our confidence and showed ourselves that if everybody executes and does the right things that we can make plays and win some games around here,” Johnson said after the game, which improved the Titans to 2-4.
Ideally, Munchak said that one quarterback would start all the games all season – just like at any position.
“Hopefully, it’s not going to happen anymore,” Munchak said. “With the injuries, we’ve been through it, but I think (the players) are familiar with both guys. You want one guy in there without a doubt. We’d rather Jake had been in there for Houston and Minnesota (in Week 5) and this week…."
“Yeah, we’d like to have our guy in there week-in-and-week-out to get better, but if Jake’s ready to play this week or if it’s next week, he’ll be the guy in there playing.”