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Will Locker work outside-in or inside-out?

6/19/2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Former Tennessee Titans tight end Frank Wycheck is now the team’s radio analyst and a sports-talk radio colleague of mine at 104.5 The Zone in Nashville, Tennessee.

He’s long talked about quarterbacks working inside-out or outside-in in terms of their comfort level in looking for targets. And being that Wycheck spent a very good career working the inside, he tends to like to see quarterbacks look there early as they read the field.

Steve McNair was an inside-out guy early in his career but his recognition improved to where he could go the other way, too. Neil O’Donnell tended to be outside-in, as did Kerry Collins. Vince Young was mostly a one-read guy.

With the Titans running a new offense, we don’t know if they will tend to have Jake Locker inside-out or outside-in.

“Locker has been taught to be an outside-in quarterback,” Wycheck said. “But I think they should start turning him into an inside-out. He needs to use his tight ends more.”

I spoke with head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who will call the plays, and quarterbacks coach John McNulty about what we might see from Locker and the new Tennessee offense.

Broadly, they said it can depend on plays and defenses.

McNulty said Locker likes the idea of categorized plays and the Titans quickly grouped theirs in bunches: Against one-high safety, this play will go to this side. Against two-high safeties, it may go to the other side. These plays give you full-field options. This batch cuts the field in half.

The Titans are hardly ready to say in the new offense Locker will be an inside-out or outside-in guy. (If they were ready, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t share.)

But there is one advantage to looking outside first, McNulty said.

“I don’t know if there is every really a preference, but I guess you usually figure it’s easier to go outside-in,” he said. “If you go inside-out you can get stuck inside, because there is a lot going on there. Whereas when you go outside-in, the outside one defines itself pretty quick and then you start working your way back if it’s not there. If you’re inside-out, with all the moving parts -- it could be a linebacker, a safety, a corner a dropped lineman -- that can cause you to hang on to it a little longer and now you’re late getting to your outside part. That’s where I think it can slow you down.

“Jake is very decisive, that’s the kind of guy he is and that’s how he’s been playing. He’s not hanging on anything and then late getting to everything else. Which is a better way to go. If you ever come off of something a hair too quick and you missed it, you’re better off doing that than being a guy who hangs on it, hangs on it and then really the rest of the play is lost.

“I think that’s the most impressive thing I’ve noticed with him, he’s picked up the progressions well and he’s been very decisive working through them.”

Whisenhunt said it’s about personnel.

As head coach in Arizona, Whisenhunt had Larry Fitzgerald and, for a time, Anquan Boldin. With wide receivers of that quality, an offense should be looking to the perimeter first.

But as offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh before his time with the Cardinals, and last season as coordinator in San Diego, where Antonio Gates is an offensive centerpiece, things were more inside-out.

“It’s more a function of personnel,” Whisenhunt said.

While Justin Hunter and Nate Washington should be quality options outside, Locker could have more solid options inside in Kendall Wright (most often a slot receiver), Delanie Walker and Dexter McCluster.