Ask Mike: What's Jake Locker's Future with Titans?

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J.B. in Lawrenceburg: "Do you feel Jake Locker is getting the short end of the stick? I'm starting to question (Ken) Whisenhunt's decision-making."

Joel in Winnipeg:  "Whether Zach Mettenberger is the answer or we draft a quarterback next year, what do you think are the chances of (Jake) Locker staying on next year as the backup quarterback?  I really like Jake and I think he would make a great backup quarterback."

More than a few Jake Locker questions this week. 

This is really, really tough.

If you have read or listened to me over the past four seasons, you know that I am a Jake Locker fan. I believe that he is a talent. I believe that he will play in the NFL for a long time, no matter his role.

But even for huge Locker supporters, his injury history cannot be avoided. He missed exactly half of the Titans' first 28 quarters this season.  It has been a consistent problem since his arrival. That injury-history must be weighed as heavily as his on-field performance.

As for the "Why Now?" with Zach Mettenberger, it almost HAS to be right now for the Tennessee Titans organization. You have to see Mettenberger when the bullets are guaranteed to be 100 percent live. 

In November, the Titans are eliminated from nothing. None of their current opponents are eliminated. Everyone is battling with all that they have because they know, if you get in the postseason — no matter how you get there — you can accomplish your ultimate goal to win the Super Bowl. Everyone is selling out right now to see if they can somehow get into January. In games like the ones being played right now, the Titans will have a chance to see fully what Zach Mettenberger can do against the best that their opponents have to give. 

By December, it's possible that the Titans' four opponents may have nothing left to play for. In many cases, December is a time for experimenting and it could make it harder to gauge Mettenberger's true progress. Plenty of teams have thought that they have found "their guy" in December, only to learn the following September that they got tricked.

Maybe the games in December all count to the Titans and their four opponents. Maybe the Titans end up tricked anyway. There are no guarantees in anything. But the best odds in finding out what Mettenberger is all about come by playing him right now. For the Titans organization, they don't have much of a choice but to see if this talented youngster can become their quarterback.  

But let me repeat what I said about Jake Locker in this space last week. 

*It is important to note, however, that the quarterback decision doesn't change all of the good feelings that the Titans have about Locker — the player or the person. The pause button, not the stop button, is all that has been hit right now. That will change one way or the other in the coming weeks, certainly, but it would be foolish to say that Titans are 100 percent done with Jake Locker. *


Paul in Chattanooga: "What did you make of the Mettenberger selfie situation?"

I'm a lot like Ken Whisenhunt in that I don't quite understand the "selfie" phenomenon. But my kids are of Zach Mettenberger's generation so I have learned that his thoughts on the "selfie" were of today's norm. By the fact that J.J. Watt was LOOKING at it two hours before the game, he pretty much confirms it. 

A big part of me really admires Zach Mettenberger's guts for taking a picture of himself and posting it a couple hours before his first NFL start. I think that he was having a good time. Frankly, I also kind of think that Watt was having a good time with it — I think Watt's TV commercial at the Junior High dance is funny and really good for the NFL. 

I like fun things that show personality as long as they don't hurt anyone, hurt anyone's feelings or embarrass the team. No one got hurt in all of this and it had zero impact on the game.

Twitter isn't going anywhere, because the young people love it.  We middle-aged, fuddy-duddies might as well get used to some of this happening as we move forward. And this quarterback? There is no boring about him. Mettenberger has a great sense of humor and that is not bad for business for the Tennessee Titans.

I will say this, however: these sorts of things are much more fun when you are winning and playing well. Win and play well and things meant to be funny are perceived as funny. Lose and don't play well and many will perceive that you have zero focus and don't take your job seriously. Perception is a big thing when it comes to quarterbacking in the NFL.  

Mettenberger probably needs to pick his spots a little until he gets fully settled in as the Titans' quarterback. At that point, everyone will know him, his preparation and his play well enough to completely get the jokes.


Dee in Cookeville: "Why is (was) the Titans/Texans game on Fox?  I thought it was supposed to be part of a CBS doubleheader with the Steeler/Colts game.  When I tuned in to CBS and there was no noon game, I checked out Fox and was surprised to see the AFC game. My schedule shows the game on CBS.  Just curious."

The Houston/Tennessee game was moved from CBS to Fox as a part of the NFL's new "Crossflex" plan.

In order to make sure that the weekly television schedule is as "balanced" as possible for CBS and Fox, the "Crossflex" plan allows the league to move certain AFC vs AFC games or NFC vs NFC games between the two networks. In last Sunday's case, it was determined that moving an all-NFC battle (Seattle at Carolina) from Fox to CBS to replace an all-AFC matchup (Houston at Tennessee) would give the two network partners a more balanced slate of games. "Crossflex" started in Week 5 of the 2014 season, along with the NFL's ability to flex better games to Sunday Night Football.   


Blake in Bowling Green: "Is there a way in which I could write a letter to a player directly?"

Sure, send it to the player, in care of the Tennessee Titans, 460 Great Circle Road, Nashville, TN 37228.





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