Rusty Smith, Jake Locker, And My Glass Box Of Emotion.

Visitors of Music City Miracles, I'm having a crisis. I'm freaking out over who will be starting week one at quarterback this year. Freaking. Right. The hell. Out. I've played out millions of scenarios where starting Locker right away ruins everything and we start from square one all over again in 2015 after being laughed out of the building by Jacksonville. Seriously, it will never in my worst nightmares ever get lower than that. Admitting that this pick was a failure is not something I'm willing to do, and if avoiding that means sitting Locker for a year then let's go ahead and do it, but in the back of my head, I see a guy like Josh Freeman, who had a similar college career to Jake, have a kinda rough rookie campaign to come out of nowhere and tear it up in year two. You'd think that Freeman had a huge advantage, but per Football Outsiders, Nate Washington was the better receiver in terms of DYAR (more value overall)  and DVOA (more value per play) than the non-hambeast version of Mike Williams down in Tampa Bay. Kenny Britt also was also ranked light years ahead of both of these two, coming in at 9 in DYAR and a mind-blowing 2 for DVOA. 

Something tells me that Kenny's earth-shattering numbers aren't sustainable. He's a great player, but he had a season based on a small sample size, even by NFL standards, and had an absolutely monster game against Philly that most likely drastically helped his stats. So the toss up in terms of wide receivers seems to favor the Titans, but I think that both Williams and fellow rookie Arrelious Benn will have take steps forward in 2011 while Nate Washington will most likely regress, if only slightly. The big question marks are Jared Cook, who's still an unproven commodity at TE. If he plays like we think he can, he'll be comparable to Kellen Winslow in terms of production who ranked seventh in terms of DYAR among tight ends. Surprisingly enough (or maybe not), Cook was still more valuable than Bo Scaife in 2010. 

In terms of offensive line play, it's pretty simple. The Titans were good at protecting the passer in 2010, so were the Bucs. They rank ninth and thirteenth respectively. (edit: These numbers just seem downright odd after looking at PFF"s post today. Strange stuff indeed. It felt like they were pretty bad, but those guys say otherwise.) If our line was really that good with the mess at guard and center, I can't wait to see what it's like with someone who knows what they're doing in there and isn't literally the worst center in the league. Roos should do a great job keeping strong edge rushers off of Locker/Smith this year. 

In terms of running games: we do realize that CJ is still >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> LeGarrette Blount and projects to be for a very long time, right? Good, just do we're clear. 

So there's my case for Jake Locker starting early. Not immediately, but nine starts like Freeman got in 2009 sounds about right. They were low pressure, they were with a weak supporting cast, and they were a great learning experience that gave him the preparation he needed to succeed in 2010. And you know what? He wasn't half bad. He only completed about 55% of his passes, but the TD/INT ratio wasn't awful and he showed promise. In 2010, he was the spitting image of Steve McNair out there. That's what we're aiming here folks, we want another McNair. 

If you're wondering why I keep bringing up the Bucs and Josh Freeman, it's because I feel like Locker and Freeman will be compared for a long time due to very similar college careers and skill sets. Neither of these guys are the Matt Ryan, Sam Bradford type who can come in and start all 16 games immediately. They're projects. How they're handled will be put under a microscope from the get-go because everybody knows this. I've always viewed Locker as the more talented of the two, but we'll certainly see further on down the road.

Now, what about our friend Rusty? I had visions of grandeur in finding the next Tom Brady in the sixth round with this guy when he played mop-up against Washington, but I'm fairly certain none of that is going to happen. Would it kill me to see him start the first six or eight games? No. But perhaps there are better options. I've pretty much conceded at this point that someone over 30 is coming to Nashville this year to play QB, and you know what? I'm slowly warming up to it. Collins' retirement and Vince's impending dismissal make it necessary, so let's see where it goes. 

Guys, I don't wanna sugar coat it. We bad, we real bad, and we gonna be real bad for a long time unless this works out, so for the love of Zeus, please let it work. 

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