Thus concludes our series on the Titans five most influential players who, through their play, have the potential to make or break the team's 2014 campaign. So far we've looked at inside backer, Zach Brown, freak athlete, wideout Justin Hunter, up-and-coming corner Blidi Wreh-Wilson, and OLB convert Derrick Morgan. The Titans have a lot of moving parts at this point, with the new coaching staff shaking up the foundation and instituting a more efficient, modern structure that the team has been begging for over the past half-decade.
With all that in mind, we move on to our No.1, make or break player, who will lead the charge in deciding whether the 2014 Titans are a team to reckon with, or an also-ran.
# 1. Jake Locker
Now this one was fairly obvious. As my colleague SuperHorn has well documented in his ongoing series, Locker is still very much a work in progress, but has shown signs that he can be an effective weapon from the Quarterback position. Locker's main hurdle has been his time off the field rather than on it, having missed a large portion of his pro career to date through injury.
Jake Locker showed plenty of promise when healthy last year, and with an emerging repertoire of receiving talent at his command (Justin Hunter, Kendall Wright, Delanie Walker, and Nate Washington may be the most underrated corps of offensive weapons in the league this season), he will be given every shot to succeed. And while Ken Whisenhunt's scheme represents yet another play-book for Locker to digest, I think his coaching ends up helping, rather than hurting, the former Husky signal caller.
2014 will be the banner year or not for Locker. His maintained health and success through the air will likely mean playoffs for the new-look Titans. His re-injury and failure to grasp the new system will almost surely doom the Titans to the proverbial basement. As has been debated, explored, researched, and blown up by TV analysts over and over again, Locker is an enigma at this stage with few comparable players to base one's assessments. That said, few would argue that he has the physical tools to make his mark in this league, but ever fewer predict that he can hold up for an entire campaign in order to make that impact.
Whether Locker rises to the occasion or not, more than any other Tennessee Titan, will decide the fate of the 2014 squad.
As an aside, I also wanted to give credence to some of our commenters who judged that Tackle, Michael Oher was a name that should have made this top 5 list. While I did consider Oher in my evaluation, at this point there is not enough to make me believe that Oher will make or break the Titans season. If he slips, he has Lewan pressing for time behind him who could step in and play, at least in my opinion, without too much if any drop-off.