Ask Mike: Why Did the Titans Make a Change at QB?




The majority of the questions that I got this week were about quarterbacks. And that was before Thursday's announcement that rookie Zach Mettenberger was taking over as the starter for the Tennessee Titans.

Brooks in Wayne, PA:* "I still don't know why (Charlie) Whitehurst is still playing (quarterback).  Is (Ken) Whisenhunt not playing (Zach) Mettenberger because the Titans plan on drafting Mariota from Oregon?"*

Mike in Nashville: "We have been rebuilding/waiting since (Steve)McNair left. I think I am tired of supporting a team that acts like the fans just need to wait every year. Well take a look around; I think it shows I am not the only fan who decides not to show up."

Jonathan in Deming, NM: "After watching Sundays game, I noticed that the Redskins played loading the box a lot. Why did it take the Titans so long to hit the over the top? It seemed like every time they went deep it worked…When Charlie (Whitehurst) gets in there, there is a noticeable performance drop of at all skill positions. Even Delanie's (Walker's) numbers drop drastically. WHY?"

David in El Paso, TX: "With Jake Locker out, why is Mettenberger not playing? He is losing some valuable playing time? Get him ready for next year."

All of these questions — and several others — either directly or indirectly touch on the reasons that the Titans are going with rookie Zach Mettenberger as their starting quarterback this weekend against the Texans.

The quarterback position has plagued the Titans since Steve McNair's departure. I will not go through the whole history of the last decade of Titans quarterbacks because, unfortunately, it would take too long. For one reason or another, Tennessee has gone through a number of guys over the past decade. That has to cease. The Titans must find a guy, one guy, "the guy."

The toughest part of this is that Jake Locker has many of the attributes that you want in "the guy." Locker's amazing bad luck with injuries, however, stops the team's ability to make a full commitment to him. Unfortunately, questions remain regarding his durability, which leave other questions about Locker's game to be unanswered.

It isn't about fair or unfair; it's about results. Locker's absences have kept the Titans from achieving the results that they want. It is important to note, however, that this week's 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.  

Charlie Whitehurst is a quality backup quarterback, a player who does an excellent job with all of the roles of that job. But Whitehurst isn't an every down, 16-game quarterback. He's meant to play in spots, to be part of the quarterback corps.

With Zach Mettenberger, the Titans have decided to find out. He throws the football like few that we have ever seen at Saint Thomas Sports Park. He's 6'5, meaning that he can see the whole field. Even recovering from knee surgery, Mettenberger still has more mobility than he's given credit. The guy makes things happen; he has the ability to make the big play down the field, to hit the "chunk" plays that Whisenhunt often talks about.

Now, the Titans will see if Mettenberger's special skills can translate into the regular season. The team knows that Mettenberger won't be perfect, but if he shows a grasp of the offense and an ability to lead the team to touchdowns, they will be pleased to go forward believing that he is "the guy".

Right now, it's not about next year, it's about now. Zach Mettenberger has a chance right now. He has to make the most of it or else…

The search will continue.

Everyone at Saint Thomas Sports Park wants a winning team of which the fans will be proud. All of those people understand that they must turn over every rock, do anything and try everything to find "the guy" at quarterback. Because if the Titans are going to get better, they have to find their quarterback — and the search cannot end until they find one.

Tennessee needs its quarterback answer yesterday, not tomorrow. That's why they are not waiting to see if Mettenberger can be "the guy."

Taylor from McDonough, GA: "Will we see a change in the uniform combination at the next home game? I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one tired of the white jerseys and navy blue pants."

Yes, Taylor, you will see a change at the Tennessee-Houston game on Sunday. The Titans will be wearing their navy jerseys as they take on the Texans.