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Jake Locker's Offseason Work

In interviews this offseason, Jake has touched on a couple of issues - things we noticed here at MCM during film review - that he's been working on this offseason.

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Jake Locker on TitansOnline:

Yeah, just trying to listen to my feet a little bit if I'm pushing up in the pocket and on my third or 4th hitch, instead of trying to make something big happen down field, take 5 yards. And, have second and 5. That's a good down and distance for our offense. We like that situation. Over the course of a season, those are the type of places that allow you to stay on the field, continue drives and help you win games.

I think the priority for me is just playing faster. Whether that is through my progressions or decision making. As far as that goes, just making that decision, and not waiting to make it. To where I say, "Oh man, if I had run it there, I could have had maybe had a good gain" where as now I got sacked. So, just trying to make any decision, whether it's in the passing game, or running out of the passing game, a little bit faster and make those plays more productive.

Jake on 3HL:

(on what he's seen on tape this offseason)

More, watched personally, I missed this throw - why? Did I have to move in the pocket? Did I have some people around my feet? What was it, maybe a theme, in why I was missing throws last year? And, I tried to work on that. That's what I found, when I had to alter my throwing motion, when I wasn't able to just step up and throw, I didn't have as much success as when the pocket was clean and I could step up just like I was in 7 on 7 drills. So, that was a big point of emphasis for me was, in individual drills, moving in the pocket and throwing. Having things around me throwing. Noise around me throwing. It's not always going to be clean and you've got to find ways to make those tough plays. That's what good teams do.

These couple of quotes highlight what, for me, were a couple of Locker's biggest problems last year.

Progressions - As noted in the Jets film review, there were problems where Jake would lock onto a target, not get through progressions, and also lose a feel for the pocket. I thought times where he was comfortably getting to his third read were exceedingly rare. No doubt, this problem was exasperated by the poor offensive line play though out the year. However, as Greg Cosell noted (quotes taken from Total Titans blog):

[But Locker]'s still very much in the embryonic stage when it comes to footwork, to mechanics, to reading progression. He predetermines a lot of throws.

I thought the last part of this quote was particularly interesting and true. The thing with Jake, at least in my opinion, is that his inaccuracy is incredibly overstated. Like Locker says in the 7 on 7 throwing comment, when the environment is perfect, his accuracy is usually just fine. When that first read is open, and the pocket is relatively clean, he can make every throw in the book (the deep throw against the Colts comes to mind). Which is to say that I think a lot of his problems with accuracy are external, as opposed to fundamental mechanical problems. Now, the extent to which he can overcome these external problems of slow reads and sloppy footwork under duress remains to be seen. This leads us to the second issue.

Pocket mobility/manipulation - Regarding this topic, I have two examples from the film review "database". One good. And, one bad. This and read progressions go hand in hand. As you're getting through those 3rd and 4th reads, the ability to move within the pocket is critical. I thought Jake looked really out of place at times as pressure came from the edges, and he didn't slide forward and remain balanced despite room to do so.

Working to develop both of these traits will be vital if Locker is to progress to a legit starter in this league. I think he can do so, but these aren't simple fixes. There's a reason they are associated with refined QB play. And, they are things that will only come with grinding through reps (something I'm certain Locker will do). In both of these regards (progressions/pocket mobility), Locker and Loggains would be wise to commit an afternoon breaking down Aaron Rodgers play within the pocket.

The good news is that he's identified the issues. It's that whole "realizing you have a problem is the first step" thing. Sometimes there's an assumption that, at the professional level, these problems in player's games are always identified and put front and center. I'd say more times than not that is true, but it's not necessarily a given. Knowing that Locker understands these problems and is working on them is only a good thing.

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