Now that Jake Locker is the starting quarterback, the job isn’t his to lose. It’s his to keep.
That was the key word during an interview of coach Mike Munchak by Steve Wyche on NFL Network earlier this morning. Wyche asked if Locker would be benched for Matthew Hasselbeck for any reason other than an injury.
“Probably not,” Munchak said before eventually adding this caveat: “Unless there’s a reason to make a change.”
Careful inspection of Munchak’s words hint that the endorsement of Locker isn’t entirely unequivocal.
“I think we know Jake’s gonna have some ups and downs, as any quarterback does in the NFL,” Munchak said. “Being a young guy he’ll have some. But he’s shown us when he’s had a bad day or bad throw he’s come back in that same game and made better decisions and made plays. So I think in this situation we’re very confident in him. We feel he’s won the position and he’s ready to go. So, no, we definitely would hang with him unless there was like you said probably an injury situation.”
It’s no surprise, then, that the Titans have no plan to trade Hasselbeck. And while they apparently don’t intend to have Locker on a short leash, Munchak’s multiple uses of the term “probably” implies that a benching remains a possibility.
There’s nothing wrong with that. Only franchise quarterbacks have guaranteed jobs from Week One through Week 17. And if those franchise quarterbacks don’t perform like franchise quarterbacks, they could be in trouble, too, depending on the quality of the backup.
In Tennessee, Hasselbeck has shown he can get it done. Locker has yet to show he’s a franchise quarterback. And so, while the hope is that Locker will step up, the truth is that if he doesn’t, Hasselbeck will be ready to go.
For now, the Titans think that probably won’t happen. Otherwise, they probably wouldn’t have given Locker the job.