Who's next: A deeper look at the recent calls for Titan's rookie Zach Mettenberger to start over Jake Locker.
To clear the air, I'll start by saying I'm a Jake Locker fan. If nothing else, I'm a fan of the person. He's basically the anti-Manziel. He's quite off the field, doesn't care about money, and a family man that works hard at everything he does. Heck, he doesn't even have a twitter account. How you could root against the kid is beyond me. That's not to say that those that don't think he can be a franchise quarterback are wrong, or unfounded in their beliefs. It's just a disclaimer.
That said I'm a Titans fan first and foremost and want what's best for the team and wins on the board. Don't we all? Isn't that what controversy and discussion is all about? The existence of sports talk radio and blogs like this one is based on differing opinions. Fans all want what's best for the team, they just have different views of what that is.
After the Saints preseason game I was told there was a Twitter explosion anointing Mettenberger as the far superior quarterback to Jake Locker and that the Titans should start him right away. There was only a little of it on my timeline so I dismissed a good bit of the talk. That is until I went to dinner at my parents house on Sunday night and a family member hit me with the same thought process. I was dumbfounded and realized the view might be more pervasive than I previously thought.
The real point of this discourse isn't to try and defend Jake Locker or pump the brakes on Mettenberger fans, but rather to raise the question of whether the concept of looking ahead is unique to Titans fans in their infancy, or is it really the status-quo for the entire league. Does every team's fan base want the next guy in? Or is it just those with unproven quarterbacks? Do I just sense the overwhelming nature to move on due to my proximity as a fan? Has the advent of social media and the quickening pace of society made this notion even stronger?
Surely the fans that have one of the elite quarterbacks don't spend much time on the subject, but I am curious as to where the line is. Here's some names that have taken their team to the Super Bowl in the last 10 years that you would be hard pressed to put in the upper echelon of consistently proven quarterbacks: Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Rex Grossman, Matt Hasselbeck, Jake Delhomme, Russell Wilson, and Colin Kaepernick. I wonder what talk radio is like in these towns?
As far as the Titans are concerned, I can't remember there ever being a time when there wasn't at least some voice for the back up quarterback from the fans. Even the late, great, Steve McNair had his detractors that steadfastly stood behind Neil O'Donnell, and the Vince Young debate still goes on to this day due to the team's win/loss record while he was under center.
It's not just quarterbacks either. Head coaches are under this same plight as well. Three years tops. The go, go, go, now, now, now pace of society has bled into the sports world with an alarming velocity.
Have fans become myopic in their desire to move on? One single mistake from the current starter or CEO and it overcasts his entire performance, while the incumbents miscues are wholly ignored and his benefits lauded. Sure this is human nature to a degree, but the desire to constantly look forward is what has me baffled.
Perhaps the advent of social media causes the vocal minority to have a louder voice. It's hard to tell anymore whether or not something is a minority opinion or not. People tend to surround themselves with like minded individuals. So if your Twitter time line is full of an idea, is that a representation of the whole, or just your own personal bubble? Throw in the fact that media outlets have gone overboard trying to grab your attention or at least a handful of your "clicks" as you peruse the internet, and you get sensationalist concepts shoved in your face as well.
The calls for Mettenberger have developed from a potpourri of issues. Locker's inability to stay on the field due to injury, his initial accuracy issues coming into the league, fan's desire to have "steal" in the draft, as well as Whisenhunt's "prototypical" and ideal specimen for the position. The position has been unstable for years and perhaps there's a growing fear that it will continue to be so under Locker. Throw in a heavy dose of being in the middle of SEC country and you have the potential a bonafide uprising. In speaking with a friend from another site, he even said that some of Locker's staunchest defenders from last year had jumped ship and were now on the Mettenberger hype train.
That's the part I don't get. Is it ridiculous for fans to think Zach is the future at the position? Absolutely not. Locker is unproven. Period. He's shown flashes of what he could be, and has a ceiling as high as any in the league. The bottom line is that we don't know what we have exactly, but he's also shown zero reason this year to think that he can't be the team's leader for years to come.
If you never were sold on Locker and have always been ready to move on, then that's fine. My same family member that is now calling for Zach said he thought Fitzpatrick should be the starter last pre-season. If you are an SEC fan first and foremost, I guess I get that as well. But if you are a fan of the Titans and have been a fan of Jake Locker, I implore you to stick with something for awhile. Find out what you have before you move on. Finish the book. Don't just skim the articles.
In fact, forget football altogether. Stick with anything you start and see it through to the end. If you're constantly looking for what's next you'll never really have anything.