Jake Locker may have been the only rookie quarterback in the class of 2011 that didn’t receive a ton of playing time right out of the gate, but it seemed to work to his advantage. The former Washington Husky sat behind a seasoned veteran in Matt Hasselbeck, who evidently took a liking to the rookie quarterback enough to take him under his wing. When Hasselbeck injured his calf in December, Locker got his chance to play in 5 games, compiling 542 yards, 4 touchdown passes and 1 rushing touchdown.Mike Munchak has made it clear the Tennessee Titans will have an open quarterback competition for the starting job. Locker doesn’t seem to believe it will have any kind of impact to the relationship with his mentor.Jake Locker joined 104.5 The Zone in Nashville with the Wake Up Zone to discuss looking at game tape during the off-season, his performance during his rookie season, his struggles in the red zone as a rookie and competing with Matt Hasselbeck for the starting quarterback job next season.
Are you looking at tape during the off-season of your throws or of other teams? Do you do any of that stuff during the off-season?
“Yeah I took some stuff home with me. All of our games from last year on tape. I watch those and kind of go through them especially some of the games I had opportunity to get in and kind of see where I can improve and get a little bit better and kind of keep yourself familiar with the offense, so when you get back you are not having to retrain your mind to the verbiage and kind of the structure you play and then watch some of the guys that I have respect for in the NFL that play the position really well.”
How do you evaluate your performance in your rookie season? What do you need to work on?
“There’s a lot of room for improvement, but I think as far as being able to come in and we were able to have a little bit of success, but figuring out how to close a few of those games and win of a few of those games we were in. I think we had an opportunity to and it comes down to one or two plays in the course of a game and I think just really matching an offense and understanding that your first and second reads are not there where you can probably check down and get 4 or 5 yards and just continue to move the chains and keep your defense off the field and allow your offense to gain momentum. One thing that I was happy about was that I felt like I was prepared when I got the opportunity to play. I felt like I wasn’t overwhelmed. I wasn’t…I didn’t feel like I hadn’t prepared hard enough throughout the week to feel comfortable when I got in over the course of a game, so that’s one thing I was happy about.”
What about your troubles in the red zone and how you managed those situations?
“I think for a lot of people that once you get inside the red zone that is where the game really speeds up especially at the NFL level because the field is shorter. There is not a deep threat especially in the passing game. You have to be that much more sharp with what you are doing and again I think that is something I really need to look at and study and spend a lot of time to becoming more comfortable with those pattern windows and those things in which you know you can fit certain balls in there and you can’t on others. I think that comes with repetition and finding that comfort zone.”
How do you think you can handle Matt Hasselbeck being so close with you and now you having a chance in training camp according to Mike Munchak to win the starting quarterback job?
“I don’t think that is any different of a approach then we took last year. I try to go into practice and to camp every time I have the opportunity to play that way. I was competing for a chance to possibly start. I think that is how Matt is. You understand it as competitive guys, who have played their whole life and having been used to being on the field. I think by us going out and competing as hard as we can every day against each other is only going to bring out the best in each of us. At the end of the day the best guy will play. Personally, I don’t feel it will have any effect on our relationship at all. I think we have a friendship that is a lot deeper than just football. I think whoever ends up getting the nod at the end of all of it? The other guy will be giving him all the support he can from the sideline and throughout the week of practice. I truly do believe that.”