If Jake Locker wasn’t wearing that label before Sunday in Pittsburgh, he probably is now.
Locker was as efficient as he had to be in the opening victory, hitting on 11 of 20 passes for just 125 yards. It worked because the Tennessee Titans were able to dominate defensively and because their run-pass ratio was 2:1 in favor of the ground game.
But now, heading into week two against the high-powered Houston Texans, what will happen if the Titans go to Reliant Stadium and need to win through the air? If the ratio is reversed, are the Titans and Locker confident enough and competent enough to do so in the pass game.
Coach Mike Munchak answered that as yes.
“Of course. I think we’re very confident in that. I think he came out again with the first pass throwing to Nate (Washington) and play action to Kenny (Britt) which was a nice catch. There were times we had plays called, double called, a lot of times for run-check-pass, pass-check-run, and the run was there and not the pass, so we took the run.,” Munchak said. “That happens in games, too. A game becomes a certain way and takes a turn the way that game did in the second quarter and all of a sudden you run the ball 12 times in a row. So, we didn’t anticipate it happening that way. It wasn’t because we didn’t want to do something else.
“It was because that was working, and we were setting the tone and taking over the game and doing that versus trying to force something else just to balance things out.”
Going inside the numbers a bit, of Locker’s 11 completions, five of those moved the chains and four of those five came on third down.
“We got in some third-and-long situations. We had a penalty and we had a loss on one of the runs,” Locker said. “We had to convert on some big third downs, and we made plays when we had to today. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t how you draw it up all the time, but when we had to we made plays to put points on the board. You’ve got to be happy with that.”
The Texans have big–play capability, of course, with receiver Andre Johnson and running back Arian Foster. The Titans probably don’t want to get into a shootout and need to score 40 points to win the game Sunday.
But if Munchak and Locker’s teammates insist if the reverse is true this week and the Titans have to take to the air that they can win against their division rival.
“We’re very confident in his ability with how he converted a third and 13, third and 15 a few drives down in the third quarter,” Munchak said. “He got in the pocket and made some plays and he ran a couple times when he needed to. Those are the things where the more he plays, the more he’ll continue to make those decisions. Like I said, next week could be the total opposite, and we’re fine with that.”
Tackle Michael Roos agreed with Munchak’s assessment of Locker.
“I don’t think it matters what he’s got to do, how much he’s got to do or how little. If he’s got to throw it 20 times or 40, we’ll do whatever we got to do each week to win. If next time we have to run it 10 times and pass it 40 so be it,” Roos said.