- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Jake Locker has been a Titans quarterback since April 28, 2011.
In 22 preseason and regular-season games since then, he’s not yet had a game plan drawn up specifically for him.
After officially naming him its starting quarterback this season today, that’s one of several reasons the franchise is very confident in him going forward.
“There are a lot of things he can do, there are a lot of phases of the game he can affect,” coach Mike Munchak said. “There are things we can do with him that we haven’t shown in the preseason. We haven’t helped him play his kind of game.”
Locker’s ability to move around and run is part of what made him an attractive draft prospect. And he’s fast, having run a sub-4.4 40-yard dash.
But the Titans are careful about how they paint him.
“It just brings a totally different element to the game, which we’ve had before, with guys like Vince (Young) and Steve (McNair), (Warren) Moon when I played,” Munchak said. “He’s a quarterback that can run. He’s not a running quarterback to me …”
“He can get out of the pocket, put the fear in the defense, that’s a nice thing to have. Does that mean that we have to move the pocket and do all these things, because he’s not capable of sitting in the pocket?" he continued. "No. We think he’s great in the pocket and we’re excited about that. The fact that he can do a lot of other things creates a lot of issues for teams that have to deal with him.”
Locker downplayed the differences we might see with him running the offense, saying there are “little nuances” but that the goal is the same no matter who’s quarterbacking -- trying to find ways to take advantage of all Tennessee’s weapons.
One of the weapons Locker spoke of, Nate Washington, sees all sorts of new, dynamic possibilities. Offense coordinator Chris Palmer has already said the Titans will feature some run-and-shoot principles utilizing more conventional personnel.
“He’s going to give us an opportunity to come out and do some different things that we haven’t shown,” said Washington, who broke through with his first 1,000-yard season with Matt Hasselbeck as the starter last year. “A little bit of everything with the spread, our heavy packages with the triple tight end. He gives us a little bit of everything and that’s going to be a positive for us.
“He does different things that Matt wasn’t able to do, of course, as far as running and being mobile. It’s a good opportunity for us to come out and show a little different diversity.”
The team was reaching a point where it was ready to rally around a guy.
“I’m excited for him,” left tackle Michael Roos said. “It’s who our guy is. Now we know. We can just get ready.”
Munchak expressed gratitude to Hasselbeck, who did wonders to smooth a difficult transition.
A first-year coach had no offseason time with players in 2011, but found a veteran quarterback able to fill a major leadership void and help spread his message of professionalism while talking of service to his teammates.
Hasselbeck couldn’t have handled losing the job more professionally.
“Matt's one of the best guys I know,” Locker said asked about their exchange after they learned the verdict Sunday night. “It wasn't awkward. It wasn't tough.”
When Hasselbeck signed a three-year deal as a free agent, the Titans told him they wanted to create stability and security at quarterback while looking to turn to Locker at whatever pace Locker dictated.
“I think his development as a quarterback in all areas has definitely been impressive,” Hasselbeck said. “… He's everything they hoped he would be and I would certainly agree. I'm a big fan of his. I think he'll do well.”
2hEric D. Williams