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Tennessee Titans: Charting Locker's Reads

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Let's take a look a look at whether or not Locker has learned to be accurate beyond his first read.

Kevin C. Cox

During my guest appearance on The Two Tone Crew Podcast the other night we discussed the enigma of Jake Locker.  One point that Jamal Black brought up was a tidbit from our very own Superhorn's series on Jake Locker.

From the Accuracy post, I found three basic rules for Jake:

1.  First read is clearly open.

2.  Read is not muddy, and he trusts it.

3.  It's not a short-intermediate throw across the middle.  In particular, it's not a crossing route.

The concern brought up by the Two Tone Crew is that an NFL quarterback needs to be able to cycle his reads and that Jake doesn't or hasn't shown the ability to do so and remain accurate.   In an effort to alleviate his fears, or possibly induce my own, I decided to chart Jake's throws against the Falcons in the first half of their 3rd preseason game.

The caveat to this is that without knowing the playbook or the options depending on coverage there's no way for me to know what the actual progression is supposed to be.  All I can do is watch the quarterback's head, shoulders and feet.  So if Locker looks deep right and then turns and throw left was that his second read?  Or did he know he was going there all along and was simply looking off the safety?  Also as Superhorn pointed out in the comments of this post, often times the defensive coverage is the "read".  You are reacting to what the defense is doing.  All that aside, this is what I found with what little I have to go off:

1st Series

  • 2nd and 6 - own 24 - 1st read - play action screen pass to Nate Washington
  • 3rd and 6 - own 24 - 1st or 2nd read -  Delanie Walker looks to be the primary receiver but was held off the route by the linebacker. Hits Kendall Wright in the numbers on a short hitch but was covered tight.

2nd Series

  • 2nd and 8 - own 20 - 2nd or 3rd read - Locker buys time as first and possibly second read are covered.  Shuffles left and finds Justin Hunter after he worked all the way from opposite side of the field.
  • 1st and 10 - own 35 - Sacked quickly by free defender.
  • 2nd and 17 - own 28 - Looks through 2 receivers and runs for a gain of 13.
  • 3rd and 4 - own 41 - 2nd read - hits Leon Washington out of the backfield after a quick look to Hunter who was covered short of the sticks.  First down.
  • 2nd and 8 - own 49 - 1st or 2nd option - Overthrows Hunter down left sideline, but turns out Hunter was held on the play.
  • 1st and 10 - Falcons 34 - 1st read - Washington works down the field and gets wide open.  Locker sails the ball deep and right, but was hit as the ball was thrown.
  • 3rd and 10 - Falcons 34 - 2nd or 3rd look - Hunter and Wright both covered down the left side.  Finds Delanie Walker in the middle of the field.

3rd Series

  • 3rd and 8  - own 7 - 1st or 2nd read - Locker looks to the middle of the field then throws left to Hunter on a deep out.  Well placed ball off the hands of Hunter who was held on the play.
  • 1st and 10 - own 13 - Stares down receiver to the right and sacked quickly from blind side.
  • 3rd and 17 - own 6 - Hard to tell. - Falcons fall back in a type of prevent defense and Locker hits Hunter wide open underneath for not enough.

4th Series

  • 1st and 10 - own 24 - 1st read - Hits Walker in the numbers for a gain of 9.
  • 1st and 10 - own 37 - 1st read - Hits Washington deep as he steps into pressure.  Touchdown of 63 yards.

5th series

  • 1st and 10 - own 20 - 1st read - Hits Walker in the middle of the field for a gain of 9.
  • 2nd and 1 - own 29 - Quick pressure up the middle.  Escapes left and throws out of bounds.
  • 3rd and 1 - own 29 - 1st or 2nd option - Looks right and immediately bails pocket from pressure up the middle.  Escapes left and finds Wright working across the field for 18 yards.
  • 1st and 10 - own 46 - 2nd option - Takes the underneath route to Dexter McCluster after looking right.
Again, the purpose of this exercise is to look at Locker's accuracy when throwing beyond a clear first read.  Not to prove or dissect whether the read was correct or how far he had to cycle through the progression.

This may have been an exercise in futility due to the issues mentioned in the opening of the article.  I will say though that if nothing else, Locker was very accurate with his throws during his stint against the Falcons regardless of the read.  Some of his best throws were when pulling the trigger after the initial look was taken away.  The only throws that were misses came as a result of a holding penalty on the defense or from Locker being hit while throwing the ball.

Hopefully this means Locker is continuing his progression into a franchise quarterback that can efficiently lead an offense down the field.  If he can stay healthy, I have no doubt that he is.