Wednesday, October 2, 2013
QB Watch: Titans' Ryan Fitzpatrick
By Paul Kuharsky
A weekly analysis of the Tennessee Titans' quarterback play:
Rewind: Jake Locker was outstanding against the Jets, with three first-half touchdown passes and a 130.0 passer rating before he was knocked out of the game with hip and knee injuries early in the third quarter. He was making smart decisions and good throws and New York didn't have an answer. Ryan Fitzpatrick entered with the Titans ahead 24-6 and saw his job at that point as being not to screw it up. He didn't. The team was sluggish after Locker was knocked out, but Fitzpatrick eventually got a deep ball to Nate Washington for a 77-yard touchdown that helped ensure a blowout.
Fast-forward: Locker is out at least a few games with a sprained hip and a sprained knee on his right leg. That puts Fitzpatrick into the lineup as the starter. Dowell Loggains designed a game plan with the intent of steering things to Fitzpatrick's strengths and away from his weaknesses. He's got a good arm, he's a good athlete and he's smart. This is the most talented defense he's had on his side and the Titans will surely try to establish Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene, if he's available. Backup quarterbacks around the league are weak, and the Titans' situation is about as good as they can hope for.
Interceptions: Fitzpatrick has thrown 81 picks in 75 games and also fumbled 40 times. That's a lot of turnovers. But he has been with the Titans since March and the team believes in its system Fitzpatrick won't need to try to force things and can protect the ball. He'll need to -- the Titans are plus-nine in turnovers, with zero giveaways.
Prediction: I think Fitzpatrick will play well enough for the Titans to have a chance to win. But I expect the Chiefs, who have five picks from five defenders, will find an interception along the way. Fitzpatrick could throw more passes to the middle of the field than Locker has.