Matt Hasselbeck or Jake Locker?

December, 19, 2011
12/19/11
1:39
PM ET
A demoralized Matt Hasselbeck said after Sunday’s loss in Indianapolis that he failed the Titans when he was unable to bring a flat team more energy at Lucas Oil Stadium.

I think far too many people have been over-reacting to the work Jake Locker’s done in relief in three recent games -- against the Falcons, the Saints and the Colts. Note please, that the rookie failed to engineer a comeback win in any of the three. That doesn’t mean he failed or played poorly, but it also doesn’t earn him a parade.

Mike Munchak said Sunday he didn’t know what he’d do at quarterback going forward. He could tell us in his 4:30 p.m. ET news conference today.

I’ve pondered both sides to the Hasselbeck-Locker debate since Sunday, when I understood why the Titans went with and stuck with Hasselbeck in the loss at Indianapolis but also thought they should have made a change to Locker sooner.

Munchak could sell me on the rationale for going either way as the Titans prepare for their Christmas Eve game against Jacksonville and their New Year's Day game at Houston.

The Titans still have a chance at the playoffs, and this decision should be all about maximizing their chances to finish with two wins to get to 9-7, not about setting things up for the future. As long as there is a chance, you work to get into the playoffs and see what happens once you do.

If it’s Hasselbeck, it’s about experience. He’s going to complete a higher percentage of passes, he understands coverages and he should recognize weak spots in a Jaguars defense that’s been decimated by injuries

Hasselbeck’s slumped recently, but has given the Titans what they wanted when they signed him. He came to Nashville expecting to throw to Kenny Britt and supplement a dominant run game keyed by Chris Johnson.

Britt was lost for the season after three games and Johnson’s season has been a giant disappointment.

Hasselbeck’s been a big locker room presence who’s helped transform a group that was starving for leadership. Pulling the rug out from under a guy who’s done that work doesn’t send a great message.

Downside: He’s been struggling. In Hasselbeck’s last five games he’s hit on 61 percent of his throws with one touchdown, five interceptions and a 61.6 passer rating.

If it’s Locker, it’s about energy and mobility. The Titans were way too flat in Indianapolis and Hasselbeck bemoaned his inability to spark the team. Locker appears to be able to do so. But has it been a result of a change at quarterback or specifically a change to this quarterback?

While he’ll complete fewer passes, he will also extend more plays with his great athleticism and running ability. And one guy who could benefit from having a run threat at quarterback is Johnson, who won’t be the sole danger out of the backfield for the Jaguars to worry about.

Give Locker a full week of practice snaps with the first team and perhaps you get a big effort from a guy the Jaguars can’t know exactly how to best defend.

I do expect Locker to overwhelmingly win this poll. I don’t expect Munchak to make the change.

We should know soon.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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