Whisenhunt Explains Decision to Change QB



(on changing quarterbacks)

As all of you, I'm sure, know, we are going to go with Zach (Mettenberger) at quarterback this week. Tuesday, about midday, we came to the decision that that was the direction that we were going to go. We notified Jake (Locker) and Zach and Charlie (Whitehurst) and told them that was the direction that we were going to go. We were still waiting to see where Jake's hand was going to be as far as whether he was going to be the backup or not, depending on if he could do that. We feel after two good days of practice with Jake that he can do that, so that's the order in which we're going to go from this point. Unfortunately, that got out before we had a chance to announce that, but that's the direction that we're going. We feel like it's an opportunity to see what Zach can do, just like a number of our younger players have already started to contribute. We're looking forward to seeing where we go from here.

(on what it means to be using the third-string rookie quarterback)

Did we give up when we went with Taylor Lewan at tackle or Avery Williamson at linebacker or Bishop Sankey at running back? That's what I would say, no. We've got a young player that we feel pretty good about. He hasn't played, but he had a good preseason. We should be excited to see what he can do.

(on why he is choosing to start Zach Mettenberger now)

Just felt like it was time, where we were. We'd played some younger players, felt like this was a good opportunity for this game at home and get him started.

(on the thought process on the decision to start Zach Mettenberger)

Monday, I didn't know what Jake (Locker's) status was going to be. He threw Monday, but we talked about where we were as a team, an opportunity to potentially look at Zach (Mettenberger) and see what he could do. We felt like maybe having a home game would be a good place to start that, and so we talked about it Monday night, came back in Tuesday, continued to talk about that, and like I said a little while ago, finally came to the decision Tuesday afternoon to go that direction.

(on the assessment of Jake Locker this season)

I think Jake (Locker's) done what we've asked him to do. That's a decision that we're making just based on where we are as a football team and what we're trying to do going forward.

(on Zach Mettenberger's status as a quarterback)

I guess we'll see when he gets in there and plays. He's a young player. You always have to take that into consideration, but I think we've all seen that he's a talented player. We get an opportunity to see what he can do.

(on wanting to be patient with quarterbacks and how that affected his decision process)

We're through seven games. We have a better assessment of where we are as a team. That factored into it. We felt like this is an opportunity for us with a young player that performed very well in the preseason, and he's gotten an opportunity over the last couple of weeks to get some reps and be closer to playing, so we felt like he's much closer to being ready to take that step. This is an opportunity for us to see where he is.

(on Jake Locker's injury hurting his place as the starting quarterback)

It's always tough when you have to change quarterbacks. It has an impact on your team. You understand that. That's why we're going with Zach (Mettenberger), and we're going to stay with Zach.

(on the possibility of Jake Locker playing again)

Jake (Locker's) number two. Obviously, if something happens, Jake would play. There's the great unknown out there. I can't answer the unknown. I'm just saying that right now we're going forward with Zach (Mettenberger), like we said.

(on what Zach Mettenberger gives to the team that the other quarterbacks have not provided)

We'll see. We're not going to get into the specifics of that. We feel like Zach (Mettenberger's) a good young quarterback. We'll get a chance, just like other teams in the league are doing right now, and we'll get a chance to look at him.

(on if he considered playing Zach Mettenberger against the Redskins)

Yeah, when Charlie (Whitehurst) tweaked his hand. Yes, there was consideration for that.

(on Charlie Whitehurst's role as a quarterback)

I think Charlie (Whitehurst) is exactly what we brought Charlie here to be. That's the backup quarterback, and he's done a good job. If you look at his statistics, he's performed well. We just feel like for us, for our team, this is a chance for us to look at Zach (Mettenberger) and play for us.

(on Jake Locker's reaction to the change)

Jake (Locker's) obviously not very happy, but he's handled it like a pro. I love Jake Locker. He's a tremendous teammate, and I respect that.

(on what urged them to pull the trigger on starting Zach Mettenberger)

Like I said, I think over the last couple of weeks he's gotten an opportunity to get reps in practice to go with guys that are playing. There's no question he's a talented young player. Maybe it'll give us a spark. Offensively, we haven't exactly been lighting it up, so that's part of it in consideration. Whenever you're in a situation like we're in, I've been asked many times how do you change it or what do you do to make a change, and we've said there are going to be potential changes. We feel like, once again, this is a guy that has talent, and like I said, maybe he can give us a spark.

(on which quarterback gives the team the best chance to win)

Right now, we haven't been performing at a level offensively, does that make a difference? I would take any one of the three. This week we're going with Zach (Mettenberger).

(on Zach Mettenberger providing a needed spark)

I would say that's a question for every position that you look at. We felt like Zach (Mettenberger's) a talented young player. We had an opportunity to put him in there. We have a chance to see if he'll give us a spark and see what he can do.

(on Jake Locker practicing Wednesday)

He did a lot of everything, scout team and second team.

(on the timing of announcing the decision to change quarterbacks)

I felt like I was going to announce it on Thursday, and the thing that was important to me was to find out where Jake (Locker) was, because I knew the next question was going to be is Jake number two or is Jake number three? When you asked me about Jake yesterday, my reference to where he was from a health perspective, he is healthy enough, in my opinion, after two days of practice, to be the number two. I don't think it was disingenuous. You've got to understand, too, I was trying to buy a day. I think that's an important part of it. You may not think there is a competitive advantage to doing that, but there certainly is, I believe.

(on what the team will gain on Sunday with Zach Mettenberger at quarterback)

I don't know. I know from past experience when you're preparing for different guys you have different things in your plan. I'm sure they will now. The most ideal thing would be not to announce it until Sunday and then go from there. Obviously, that can't happen.

(on if Zach Mettenberger's confidence level went into his decision to change quarterbacks)

If you look at who we play over the next few weeks, it really doesn't matter. I know going into Baltimore would be a tough place to start a game or playing on a Monday night. They're all going to have their distractions or have their inherent issues. This is the NFL. He's worked hard. He's prepared. We understand that he's a young player and that there are going to be mistakes, just like there have been with our younger players that are playing. You have to put them in there and see what they can do. Hopefully he'll play well enough to help us win.

(on needing the rest of the offense to improve)

We need all 11 guys to be on point more than we've been. Let's not forget about that. Being last in the league in third down and not scoring enough points, those are all things that you look at. Maybe Zach (Mettenberger) can help us get better at that.

(on holding the ball against the Texans)

We're certainly aware that you can't hold the ball long against these guys. We've tried to make sure that the plan reflects that. Hopefully we'll have success with it. You know that at some point, though, you're going to have to hold the ball, because you've got to be able to make some of those throws. The big thing is you work on your technique, you work on making sure you've got two hands on the ball, and Zach (Mettenberger's) done a good job with his reads and his progressions. Hopefully we'll do a good job with that Sunday.

(on what changed in the decision on quarterbacks)

Just looking at our team and where we were going and what potentially could help us perform better. At a number of spots, obviously the quarterback's a big spot, but that was a decision that we took from Monday evening through Tuesday. It's not an easy decision. It's one that you've got to put a lot of thought into, but you've got to do what you think's best for the team at this point.

(on if other lineup changes will occur this week)

Not anything other than unless it's injury-related.

(on seeing Zach Mettenberger play before next year's quarterback class enters the league)

To be honest with you, I don't know anything about that. We've got enough things that we're worried about going on with us to be worried about a quarterback class that's coming out. We're trying to find out a lot about guys on our football team. Like I said, we're playing some young players right now, and we found out about it. It's certainly reasonable to expect that we'll find out a lot about Zach (Mettenberger), and we feel like Zach can become a good player and help us win a game.

(on if he thought about making a quarterback change before now)

We always think about potential moves on our roster, but we didn't specifically think about making a change with Zach (Mettenberger) during that period.

(on if Zach Mettenberger's skill set is better suited for his offense than Jake Locker's)

I would think that we can do a good enough job with any of our quarterbacks to try to adjust our system to fit those guys. Just like this week with Zach (Mettenberger), we have to do some things differently with him. Like I said about Jake (Locker), I like Jake, and I respect the way he works. It's not as much a function of that.

(on if he did a good enough job with Jake Locker)

It's hard to say we're doing anything good right now when we sit here with our record. I think at times we did. If you certainly look at the Kansas City game, if you look at the first half of the Cleveland game, we did some good things in there. It's just unfortunate that we didn't have more time.

(on if he is considering trading Jake Locker to another team)

Not that I'm aware of.

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