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David Climer: Early results point to Locker as Titans' man

10:59 AM, Aug 13, 2012   |    comments
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By David Climer | The Tennessean

As the resident Monday Morning Quarterback, I ask the question:

Who is the Titans' quarterback as of this Monday morning?

Coach Mike Munchak isn't tipping his hand, saying only that Jake Locker "has closed the gap" with last year's starter, Matt Hasselbeck. On Sunday, Munchak wouldn't even identify the starter for the second preseason game.

But based on what has transpired at training camp and the events of Saturday night in Seattle, it looks to me like Locker has nudged ahead.

It's still too close to call, however. There is more to sort out during the continuation of training camp this week and the second preseason game on Friday night at Tampa Bay.

But if Locker keeps this up and Hasselbeck doesn't rebound from a sloppy performance at Seattle, it'll be hard to keep Locker out of the huddle in Week 1 against New England.

I've said all along that if it's close, the Titans should go with Locker. If he is indeed the future -- and I don't think you spend the No. 8 overall pick in the draft on a quarterback unless you expect him to take over at some point -- you should make him the starter.

And right now, it's pretty darn close.

"I don't know if there was a big gap," Munchak said after the 27-17 loss to the Seahawks. "Obviously, Jake doesn't have the experience Matt has so I think that gap you can never really close if you are a young quarterback. ...

"So, yeah, he has closed the gap and they are obviously both doing well."

From the outside looking in, it's impossible to get a true gauge on this competition because we don't know the criteria being used by Munchak and offensive coordinator Chris Palmer. Is the performance in preseason games given more weight than the day-to-day grind of training camp or vice versa?

Beyond that, it's unclear where the finish line is. Will the competition continue through the final preseason game or do the coaches want to declare a starter this week or next? Munchak says only that the decision will be made "at some point."

The way Locker handled the two-minute offense late in the first half of the preseason opener is an indication of his growth as an NFL quarterback. Likewise, Hasselbeck didn't do himself any favors with two interceptions, although the first one -- on the Titans' first offensive snap -- was a bit of a fluke.

The interceptions were a continuation of what has occurred at training camp. Our Titans beat writer Jim Wyatt has charted every throw in 11-on-11 drills, and Hasselbeck has been intercepted eight times compared to two by Locker.

Hasselbeck has said some of the picks are due to his willingness to make throws he probably wouldn't make in games. He said he throws into coverage rather than making the safer, check-down pass because he wants "to see if guys can make plays."

With Locker on his heels if not dead even or slightly ahead, that might not be the best course of action moving forward. Hasselbeck needs to worry about himself and the job he is trying to keep.

All things considered, this looks like the biggest week of the preseason for both quarterbacks.

David Climer's columns appear on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Contact him at 615-259-8020 or

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