The Jake Lockerless Tennessee Titans come to The Clink on Sunday. It’ll be nice to see the ‘Hawks back in their own noisily friendly environs after two tough road games, and having Locker on the mend probably helps them a bit, but I’m kinda disappointed the double valid from Ferndale is missing his homecoming. While at UW, Jake Locker was one of the few recent college players I sorta kept tabs on. Because of his crazy athleticism, he’s always been fun to watch. With that said, I thought the Titans taking him in the first round in 2011 was a huge reach. There was one thing about him coming out of college that I didn’t like: he couldn’t throw very well. (Strangely, I think this gets overlooked sometimes by NFL player evaluators.) Locker had the prototypical “big arm”, but it was also a totally inaccurate arm. Indeed, when he foundered his first two seasons, posting completion percentages south of 60% and throwing nearly as many INTs as TDs, I felt vindicated. But then this year pre-injury he was playing quite well. He completed over 62% of his passes, with six touchdowns against zero picks. Throw in his always effective running and Locker was playing like a legit NFL quarterback. Maybe the Tennessee scouts are smarter at football than I am.
To any event, we see won’t see Locker in uniform on Sunday. It’ll be the eternally present Ryan Fitzpatrick instead. The Harvard grad has had a few decent moments — like the time he beat the Patriots and the time he almost beat the Patriots and the other time he almost beat the Patriots — but he’s not making Titans fans forget Steve McNair anytime soon. He’s the type of quarterback who can succeed if he has a decent ground game to fall back on. Unfortunately for him the Titans have a lousy ground game. Chris Johnson hasn’t been good since the Dems controlled the House, and he’s only getting regular carries now because he had a 2,000-yard season … four years ago. Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus coined the initialism TNSTAAPP (There’s No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect) to explain the fragile, unpredictable nature of pitcher development in baseball. And I’d like to submit a football analog: TNSTAARRB — There’s No Such Thing As A Reliable Running Back. You can also call it COS, if you’re into the whole brevity thing — Christian Okoye Syndrome. Good NFL running backs are seemingly here for the morning games and forgotten by the night game. One more reason we should all appreciate Beastmode while we can.
So I don’t see the Titans racking up yardage against the ‘Hawks. On the other side of the ball, I don’t have as much confidence. The Titans defense has been pretty solid this year. By DVOA, they rank 10th against the pass, 18th against the run, and 11th overall. I could see the Titans making life difficult for Russell Wilson & Co., especially since the Seahawks still have too many contributors showing up on the injury report (even with Max Unger returning) and haven’t yet put together a game in which they’ve both moved the ball consistently and finished their drives with touchdowns. Well, except for the Jacksonville game. But I’m only considering games against teams who aren’t making a serious push for the title “Worst Team of the Super Bowl Era”. Sorry, I should have made that more clear initially.
Overall, I think the ‘Hawks win fairly handily. I’m expecting it to be somewhat close in the first half before the Titans just get worn down by a better team. I have last year’s win against the Jets in my mind as a model, so that’s my guaranteed prediction*. Seahawks 28, Titans 7.
*As with all my predictions, I make no claims about its accuracy. I do however guarantee that is a prediction.