Hold off, please, on calls for Jake Locker

November, 21, 2011
11/21/11
5:58
PM ET
Please hold off on the calls for Jake Locker.

Hasselbeck
Hasselbeck
Locker
Locker
Our propensity to demand the backup quarterback play can border on the ridiculous.

Locker looked good in relief work in Atlanta, but he was a changeup for the Falcons to defend at a point where the game was already just about out of reach. Sure, I’m interested in the quarterback’s progress and I know he’s the future.

But Matt Hasselbeck’s been the Titans' MVP through 10 games in the eyes of Mike Munchak and in my view too. He’s got a sore forearm and elbow and is unlikely to practice Wednesday, Munchak said Monday. The team will likely not have a real accurate sense of whether he will be able to play Sunday against Tampa Bay until Friday.

In the loss to the Falcons at the Georgia Dome, Hasselbeck didn’t break the wrong way on a play that turned into an interception, Lavelle Hawkins did. He didn’t turn 12 carries into 13 yards, Chris Johnson did. He didn’t allow Matt Ryan to find targets with no one pressuring him, the defensive line did. He didn’t allow Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez to find open spots in the second level of the Titans’ defense, the linebackers and secondary did.

Bigger picture, to, Hasselbeck’s has little to do with the Titans’ major issues.

He came to Tennessee in part to work with a home-run threat of a running back in Johnson, and he has yet to have the pleasure of handing off to that version of that back. He figured to benefit from a revamped defense, but its generated minimal pass rush and doesn’t regularly slow good offenses.

And though his top receiver, Kenny Britt, was lost early to injury, Hasselbeck’s got the Titans passing offense ranking 14th in the NFL. That’s higher than the 32nd-ranked rush offense, the 23rd-ranked rush defense and the 16th-ranked pass defense.

Maybe Locker would provide some sort of spark. But at 5-5 the Titans are still very much alive in the AFC playoff picture. They’re one win off the pace for a wild card berth.

It’s not time to change the quarterback, it’s time to applaud him for getting the Titans here.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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