The 2011 season for the Tennessee Titans was a long and bumpy road that luckily showed some promising signs towards the end of the year.
They ended up finishing their season with a 9-7 record, recording two late wins in the final two games of the year. However, the biggest story was not how the team recuperated under new head coach Mike Munchak, but rather the rookie success displayed by former Washington quarterback, Jake Locker.
Locker, who was selected seventh overall in 2011, played very well in his limited time on the field. Although he did not win any starts last season, his play on the field was very noticeable, and has made Munchak's job much more difficult.
According to the coach, the race for the starting quarterback position this year is still even.
In the five games where Locker saw the field, he threw for four touchdowns, with no interceptions, and recorded a passer rating of 99.4.
Although his accuracy is still a pressing issue, the Titans believe that if he practices well during training camp, he will have the confidence and skill to play the full-time role.
Everyone's always excited about the new guy. That's how it is, especially in the quarterback world, head coach Munchak said. I think they've really taken to Matt (Hasselbeck), especially the way he carried this team last year. ... But everyone wants to see Jake. As soon as Jake started playing, it was, 'Let's see the young guy.'
Now in his 14th season, Hasselbeck still has something to prove to the city of Tennessee, if he has any chance of starting this year. Although his leadership and team chemistry is unquestionable, his lack of production last year forced the idea of a possible quarterback replacement.
In 16 starts last season, Hasselbeck threw for 3,571 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. Even though he showed flashes last season of his veteran-mentality, his lack of consistency and abundance of turnovers was the determining factor for a quarterback switch in Tennessee.
The fans, the city, and the organization want a fresh new start, and many believe the answer lies in Locker.
While it will be crucial of the Titans to keep Hasselbeck on board, since surely he is still a decent quarterback, his mentoring for Locker is invaluable at this point in his career, and it be foolish of the Titans to send him away.
Come the start of the regular season, if Locker plays well during the preseason, and has a solid training camp, odds are in his favor to be the starting quarterback in his sophomore campaign.
You always look at what's coming up, Munchak said. I could sit here and put down a list of pros and cons on who should start in our first game, and there are a lot of reasons for both of them. We've got to go with the guy that's going to help us win.