Titans changes have Locker in mind

The Tennessee Titans are making changes with Jake Locker’s development in mind.

As Tennessee’s coaches and front office are on the hot seat to improve last year’s 6-10 finish, they are hoping that an improved performance from Locker can go a long way into making that reality.

Locker’s first season as a starter was filled with ups and downs, and included a five-week stint on the shelf with a left shoulder injury that required surgery shortly after the regular season ended. As it turned out, Locker completed 177 of 314 passes for 2,176 yards with 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

But general manager Ruston Webster says those numbers and Locker’s performance might have been better had he not faced so much adversity in 2012.

“There were a lot of good things with Jake,” Webster said. “The formula for a young quarterback being successful does not include changing offensive coordinators, having a shoulder injury and having your offensive line in flux. I think that says a lot about Jake, and it’s an important trait for young quarterback to be able to overcome adversity.”

Webster said he felt Locker was doing well prior to the second shoulder injury he suffered in September against Houston. The numbers bear it out, as two of Locker’s best statistical games came in week one (when he originally hurt the shoulder) and in week three in leading Tennessee to its first victory.

The next week in Houston, was when Locker suffered the hit that knocked him out for five weeks.

“We felt good about the direction he was going prior to the shoulder and the other injuries he had. He did a good job and finished strong. We’d just like to get him a good year with a strong offensive line and not quite so many injuries. A little continuity will go a long way toward helping him,” Webster said.

The Titans pretty much overhauled the offensive staff in the off-season, saying the changes made by adding Sylvester Croom (running backs), George Henshaw (tight ends) and Shawn Jefferson (receivers) to the coaching staff had Locker and his playmakers in mind.

The Titans want to ease matters for Locker and also get more explosive plays from Chris Johnson, Jared Cook, Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright in the process.

“You look at the players we have with Locker, CJ and our receivers and offensive line and figure out what type of coach you need to fill your staff,” head coach Mike Munchak said. “You have your players in mind as you go to fill your staff.”

The process of restructuring the offense and tailoring it to Locker’s strengths falls to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, who got a five-week head start on his new job when he replaced Chris Palmer in November.

“We feel like Jake is the face of our franchise going forward. He did a nice job last year battling through injuries and showed his toughness and character,” Loggains said.

So what will the offense look like in 2013? It would make sense to incorporate some things that would play to Locker’s talents, with his ability to throw on the move and scramble being a vital part of his game. That might mean even exploring some of the pistol or read-option into the playbook on occasion.

“We’re going to do just like every team in the league and look at clubs like Seattle and Washington. We’re still very early in the process of building this offense, but we’re definitely gonna look at all that stuff, just like every team in the NFL is gonna do,” he said.

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