Friday, March 8, 2013

My Thoughts on the Jake Locker Accuracy Tour

The Jake Locker "Accuracy Tour" is in full swing and I was going to sit it out, or at least watch from the bleachers, but I elected to join the party. That's me I'm just a a social butterfly that way. I wrote extensively about Locker, his injury and his performance last season and analyzed individual games if you are interested. You can find them on this blog. I concluded that the Titans did Locker a disservice by electing to keep him on the active roster and  the "Accuracy Tour" just reinforces that opinion.

Much was made of Locker's accuracy coming out of college and there is some foundation for it certainly. He struggled his last year at Washington behind a putrid offensive line and the results were fairly predictable. Sound familiar Titans fans? The Titans drafted Locker at the overall 8th pick in the 2011 draft, and he is now heading into his third year in the league.

What many forget is how electric and exciting Locker was to watch when he debuted in 2011. He didn't get a lot of playing time but made the most of it leaving everyone to think big days were ahead for him. After a much heralded quarterback competition between him and Matt Hasselbeck, he was positioned to enter 2012 with high hopes.

Locker actually looked pretty good his first 3 games before suffering the most severe injury to his left, non throwing, shoulder against Houston in game 4. Against New England, where he initially injured the shoulder, he was 23 of 32 for 229 yards, a completion percentage (Hi!) of 71.9, a QBA of 89.2, 1 TD, 1 INT, a bad lost fumble, and 2 sacks. He rushed for 11 yards on 2 attempts (5.5 avg).

In game 2 against San Diego he wasn't as good going 15 of 30 for 174 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 0 sacks, and 0 fumbles. He rushed 2 times for 21 yards (10.5 avg). Game 3 against Detroit was perhaps his best game of the year where he was 29 of 42 for 378 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 0 sacks and 1 fumble lost. He rushed 4 times for 35 yards (8.8 avg).

After getting hurt at the beginning of Game 4, he missed the next 5 games and it was widely reported his left shoulder injury would require surgery after the season. He suffered a dislocation and his shoulder continued to pop in and out during the course of the season. I invite you to peruse my game blogs where I talk extensively about his guarding issues and how it affected his play.

In any event, his play after returning from injury was sporadic at best. Much is made of the inability of the Titans to score early on when he was the quarterback but those issues continued even after Hasselbeck assumed the helm. The Titans offense was offensive for many reasons: offensive line issues and injuries, a lackluster and then spotty running game, the disappearance of Kenny Britt in games, the "Palmer issue" amongst others. On top of that the emergence of young quarterbacks like RGIII, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Andrew Luck made Locker's struggles look even worse.

I also wrote and I believe this more than ever that it would be unfair to judge Locker on the 2012 season because of the injury and the other issues facing the offense. The "Accuracy Tour" was as predictable as it is maddening and the Titans are completely to blame for it.

I know hindsight is 20/20 but they did Locker a disservice by keeping him active after it was patently obvious he was struggling. The "Accuracy Tour" is a direct result of their decision to keep playing him instead of shutting him down and putting Hasselbeck back in charge.

Speaking of hindsight, I think in time people will look back on the Titans 2012 and 2013 seasons as the years where decisions were made because people were concerned about losing their jobs. Time will tell whether those decisions worked out. For Locker, it means 2013 is a big year for him.

You can find Locker's full stats here:  Locker NFL stats


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