Biddle's Beat: Wed. August 15, 2012 - WKRN News 2

Biddle's Beat: Wed. August 15, 2012

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The NFL got the ball rolling with its preseason schedule.

They are using replacement officials to call the games. There are players in the games we may never see again.

But, hey, it's football and we've waited long enough.

We'll take it in any shape, form or semblance of what gets our adrenaline flowing to christen another football season.

College teams don't have the curse of preseason games to play. That burden falls on the NFL and four, sometimes, five, preseason games are at least two games more than necessary.

You tell me NFL teams need four preseason games to decide which 53 active players to keep? Please. The college kids tee it up and get it going. It may not be perfect, but they don't burn their fans by making them pay top dollar to attend games that provide only superficial meaning.

Closer to home, the Titans preseason loss to Seattle has been dissected, discussed, and debated since the game clock ran out in the Pacific Northwest.

Now the Titans have to suit up Friday night in Tampa Bay.

It seemingly takes forever for the season to get here, but once it does, it will start running downhill and be over before we know it.

Titans fans are choosing sides as to which quarterback should start the regular season. Do they stick with veteran Matt Hasselbeck, or do they give second-year quarterback Jake Locker the keys to the car and let him learn hard lessons on the field?

It's a valid question. I say start Hasselbeck for several reasons. One is the early schedule where the Titans play New England at LP Field, travel to San Diego, come home to play an improving Detroit Lions team and then travel to AFC South preseason favorite Houston.

That's one-quarter of the 16-game regular season. After four games, they should know where they stand. If they promise to be a playoff team, stay with Hasselbeck. If they don't, take the wraps off Locker and let him learn on the job.

It would be foolish to start Locker when Hasselbeck has passed for more than 3,000 yards in the last three seasons. He is more accurate than Locker at this stage. He is more experienced and that is a significant advantage.

If you start Locker in Game 1, and he isn't quite ready for prime time and the team struggles on offense, then how do you bring in Hasselbeck and ask him to turn it around?

And what would it do to Locker's confidence if he were pulled after four games? No quarterback can excel without a healthy dose of confidence.

In the meantime, Locker gets his first start Friday night in Tampa. Again, the media and fans will expose every wart and bounce off the press box walls when Locker makes an All-Pro play. Rookie quarterbacks live among the peaks and valleys.

Sitting and learning has its benefits. It should extend a career. It eliminates a lot of mental mistakes.

It didn't seem to hurt former Titans quarterback Steve McNair. He sat for almost two seasons. McNair started two games in 1995, four the next season as veteran Chris Chandler played when not injured. McNair was raw, but physically talented. He had to learn how to be an NFLquarterback, having had free rein at Alcorn State.

Hand it to Locker and Hasselbeck. They are saying the right things. Their words are believable. It is a quarterback competition, not a controversy.

Of course, the Monday morning quarterbacks won't allow it to be that simple. The critiques start before the paint is dry on the Tampa Bay preseason game.

It won't end until Titans Coach Mike Munchak makes up his mind. And his opinion is the only one that counts.

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at joebiddle11@gmail.com.

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