Whisenhunt seeks gym-rat quarterback

January, 20, 2014
Jan 20
1:50
PM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- No question is likely to occupy more of our time in the coming months than this: What does new coach Ken Whisenhunt think of Jake Locker, the starting quarterback he is inheriting?

Whisenhunt talked to Peter King of The MMQB about mining for a quarterback as coach of the Arizona Cardinals after Kurt Warner retired. In three years he used five different guys and produced just an 18-30 record with a 65.8 passer rating.

That was a big part of Whisenhunt losing his job after the 2012 season.
"It's easy to look at that and say we didn't develop a quarterback," Whisenhunt said. "When Kevin (Kolb) got hurt [both in 2011 and '12] is when we struggled. And after the Super Bowl, we lost Karlos Dansby, Anquan Boldin, Antrel Rolle, Calvin Pace, Antonio Smith and some linemen, and that hurt. But the one thing I can't argue with is we didn't have consistent play at quarterback. The mistake I made when I look back now was changing guys out -- we went through too many -- and what results from switching them out a lot is you see things that are open, and the new guy misses the read or makes the wrong check. One of the things I've learned is the approach of the quarterback has to be almost the gym-rat kind of approach. I had that with Philip Rivers [as San Diego's offensive coordinator] this year, through the roof. He can't get enough of it. Push me, push me, coach me. That's him. That's exactly what Russell Wilson is. So passionate. You are not gonna keep him from being successful."

Too early to tell if Jake Locker is Whisenhunt's guy. He's been battling for the starting job and/or hurt and/or inaccurate (57.2 completion rate) in his three seasons. Whisenhunt is right to withhold his seal of approval in Locker.

"I haven't studied him as much as I need to," Whisenhunt said. "I have seen good, and I have seen bad. No question he has ability, and I have heard good things about him. The question is, can he harness the ability, and can he be consistent?" That's been the question about Locker since he was a phenom at the University of Washington."

Locker certainly has the gym-rat quality Whisenhunt speaks about. It's a matter of staying healthy and picking up the offense run by Whisenhunt and his offensive coordinator, Jason Matthew.

We don't know what the Titans plans will be for Ryan Fitzpatrick or Tyler Wilson either.

I'm fine with a plan that positions Locker to be the guy this fall, but he Titans need to position themselves to have a quality alternative if Locker doesn't blossom or gets hurt again.

The Titans draft 11th and don't have a third-round pick right now. Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles are likely to be taken before the 11th pick.

But there are other quarterbacks in the draft with upside that the Titans could take later. A best-case scenario is that they love one of them and add him.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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