Will Titans stick with Hasselbeck after 2nd straight win? - WKRN News 2

JOE BIDDLE: Titans must stick with Hasselbeck after 2nd straight win

Posted: Updated: Oct 21, 2012 6:18 PM

It was so obvious, it didn't need to be said.

But former Steelers coach Bill Cowher said it anyway.

"You can't think of putting Jake Locker back in,'' Cowher said on the CBS postgame show.

Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino echoed Cowher's opinion, as did former NFL tight end Shannon Sharpe.

It puts the ball in Titans Coach Mike Munchak's court. Ever since Locker exited with a recurring shoulder injury, Munchak has insisted that when Locker is healthy he will be the Titans quarterback and all signs point to Locker being available this week.

Locker is basically a rookie quarterback when it comes to experience. Don't forget this is only Munchak's second season as a head coach. Even so, he has the option to change his mind and it's crystal clear he needs to stick with the hot hand. If they have any inkling they can make the playoffs, Hasselbeck should be under center Sunday when Indianapolis invades LP Field.

Hasselbeck was 22 of 33 for 205 yards and the game-winning touchdown in the wildest shootout this side of the OK Corral.

It was a heart-stopping 35-34 Titans win, a game for Fantasy football fans to get fat on.

Trailing 34-28 late in the game, the Titans took advantage of a Jason McCourty interception and Hasselbeck connected on fourth-and-nine from the Bills 15. He lasered a strike to Nate Washington in the back of the end zone and kicker Rob Bironas supplied the winning point-after.

For Hasselback, it was the 22nd time in his career that he has led a game-winning drive.
There is nothing to suggest that Locker will not one day be just as capable as Hasselbeck. Locker does have physical advantages over the 14-year veteran Hasselbeck, but you can't coach experience. You have to live it and Locker is not there yet.

The Titans don't beat the Bills if Locker is the quarterback. There's not a defensive look Hasselbeck hasn't seen. He has thrown for more than 300 yards 24 times, including two in playoff games. He still has an NFL arm and an NFL encyclopedia between his ears.

Locker's days will come, just as they did for the late Steve McNair, who sat for most of two years in Houston behind veteran Chris Chandler.

I predict Locker will be a big-time quarterback in time. But right now, Hasselbeck has socks older than Locker.

Now 3-4 overall, but 2-1 at LP Field, the Titans can't afford to lose to the Colts. At 4-4, they will be out of the 1-3 hole they dug and right back in the playoff picture.

With both teams having to rely on their offenses Sunday, it was the Titans who came from six points down on their final drive. And it was Hasselbeck who saw the middle of the field clear out, allowing Washington to go one-on-one with Bills cornerback Justin Rogers. Hasselback was spot on with the game-winning pass.

It was Hasselbeck's only touchdown pass of the game, but he saved the best for last.

Now Munchak has a decision to make. All signs point to Locker being healthy for Sunday's game. But under Hasselbeck, the Titans have won back-to-back games for the first time this season.

Why mess with the chemistry now? It's obvious Munchak needs to change his mind and start Hasselbeck. Fans and media will only second-guess his decision if he puts Hasselbeck back on the bench.

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

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