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Tennessee Titans: When Do You Know?

One more chapter closer to the end of the book.

Andy Lyons

The Jake Locker debate has many layers but for the purpose of this article I'd like to focus in on one main element that I believe is the crux behind the feelings of Jake Locker for everyone. It's all about the time line.

The biggest debate surrounding the Titans, much like most franchises, is the quarterback.  The debate about Jake Locker has been endless, but going into this season most felt we would at least know one way or another during the course of the year.  Now a full year may be too long.

From a fan's perspective the attention on Locker's play has been magnified, especially after the poor play against Dallas.  Every throw, every step, every read is micro analyzed to see if he did exactly what he was supposed to do as we try and garner information for our final report.

Many had made up their mind before the season even began that Locker was not the quarterback for the Titans' future.  Others are in the wait and see camp. Any one making an argument tries to use numbers and statistics to make their side sound more convincing, and that doesn't change with this one.  The former camp says he is a 4th year pro, period, and by now you know, so let's move on.  The latter cites his injury pocked start streaks, his constant change in system, as well as his minimal games he's started in. So let's wait and see.

So when do you know?

The Jaguars took Blaine Gabbert 2 spots after the Titans drafted Jake Locker as their quarterback of the future.  Gabbert had 28 starts before being sat down permanently and eventually traded to the 49ers.

Christian Ponder was taken 2 spots further down, 12th overall in the same draft by the Minnesota Vikings.  He was given 36 games before losing his starting role.

Jake Locker just finished his 21st start.

Is there a magic number?  Every situation is different as is everyone's threshold.  If a quarterback goes out and plays incredibly poorly consistently, then I doubt we need to see it for 28 straight games before making a decision.  The reality is that in Locker's situation there's been enough up and down and change to his situation to keep looking.  But that window is closing with his play in the last two games.

The "good" part of this experiment is that it doesn't seem the Titans have a small window to achieve success with a veteran cast.  Bishop Sankey, Justin Hunter, and Kendall Wright aren't going anywhere soon and the rest of the team is playing pretty poor undisciplined football as well.

Before the Bengals game I was of the mindset that there was no harm in playing this thing out to see what you have before you move on.  Quarterbacks can have bad days or even stretches, but let's see if Locker can put together a good stretch and show consistent progress.  After the Bengals game, even my threshold is weakening.

If Locker's play improves dramatically and he somehow returns to the form he showed during the Chiefs game to open the season, and stays there, then I believe he should be allowed to continue writing chapters in this book.  If the recent two games are the majority of what we see in the near future, then the time to move on will be sooner than later.  And I'll just get the cliff notes.