With the report that Zach Mettenberger is to start this week against Houston, so comes to a close several elements for the Titans. First and foremost, it signals the ungraceful end to the Jake Locker era. There is no turning back from here. You can't then throw Locker back into the mix if things don't go well. Nor, would I think, you could even keep him active on game day if reports coming out of STSP are true, of a rift between Locker and HC Ken Whisenhunt. But more importantly, Mettenberger's planned start next weekend signals something far more important: the Tennessee Titans are in rebuilding mode now, and they know it.
The significance of this is multi-faceted. It shows faith on part of Ruston Webster and Ken Whisenhunt, as both must be relatively secure in their positions to effectively blow up the team in the middle of the season. It means that Webster knows he has a least one more good shot to make this team work before his seat gets hot. Whisenhunt was signed to a multi-year deal for a reason. Tommie Smith and Ruston Webster knew that it was likely that a total rebuild was necessary, especially with the uncertainty of the Quarterback position and the state of the team's recent performances. Whisenhunt will get his shot to build the roster and develop the team as he sees fit, for better or worse.
Zach Mettenberger becomes yet another rookie to enter the starting lineup for the Titans. He joins fellow 2014 class mates Avery Williamson, Bishop Sankey, and Taylor Lewan. The Titans have some young talent on this roster, and evaluating them sooner rather than later is key to building the team going forward. The related reports that the team could part ways with other veterans as they did with Akeem Ayers enters the picture as well. Nate Washington and Michael Griffin are part of the old regime, for what it's worth, and they don't appear to be in the future plans of this franchise in the eyes of Ruston Webster and co. Clearing the roster of old (and mediocre to poor) blood is essential for getting these young guys some experience on the field. So far all the rookies that have earned starting snaps have been impressive. Add to that prior list guys like MarQueston Huff, who has seen plenty of snaps, as well as DaQuan Jones, who has been pushing for time before Sammie Hill, and you have to think that this young crop have potential to build upon.
This is a new era we are about to see in Tennessee, and while many would have argued it should have started seven weeks ago, patience is key with a new group of head coaches, and roster rebuilds don't happen overnight. Zach Mettenberger starting this weekend against the Texans signals a new leaf. Whether that brings results remains to be seen, but I have little doubt that it is a necessary move. The Titans aren't winning, and they aren't close either. The time is right.