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5 Reasons Why Jake Locker Will Have A Career Year

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Jake Locker has the opportunity to make his third season his first as the new face of the franchise. Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images.
Jake Locker has the opportunity to make his third season his first as the new face of the franchise. Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images.

Even though Jake Locker is only entering his third year in the NFL, the University of Washington product should be preparing for his most crucial NFL season of his career. In today’s NFL you don’t get the four, five or even the six years of patience by a front office anymore. If you can’t show your worth, or become a face of the franchise by year three, most of the time it’s all but over.

So far, Locker's career totals of 2,718 passing yards, 14 passing touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 78.4 passer rating simply hasn't been good enough.

But despite that, we’re going to give you five reasons why Locker will have a career year in 2013, making the Tennessee Titans into believers. I’m not sure if it’s going to be good enough to sneak the Titans into the playoff picture, but it will surely be his best individual performance of his young career, and buy him another season in Tennessee.

IMPROVED LINE

We’ve talked about it before, and we’ll probably talk about it again as the season progresses, but right now the Titans probably have the best offensive line during Locker’s short starting tenure. They added free agent guard Andy Levitre and selected Alabama guard Chance Warmack, with the 10th overall pick in the draft, to line up alongside probable starters Michael Roos, Fernando Velasco and David Stewart – that according to ESPN.  Locker should have a significant opportunity here. If this newly assembled line gives the third-year pro time, he will definitely have the chance to show his ability.

WEAPONS

In addition, the Titans also invested in their skill positions. First, they invested their second round draft pick on Justin Hunter, a talented receiver from the University of Tennessee. Hunter joins the wide receiving corps of Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Kendall Wright (when he returns from a knee sprain), Damian Williams and veteran Kevin Walter (if he ever gets healthy). They also added free agent TE Delanie Walker, who recently just passed his physical. The weapons are there for Locker, that won’t be an excuse this season.

PRESEASON

Locker is coming off his best preseason showing so far: 11 for 13, 133 yards and one TD, but – apart from that -- he has been showing flashes of nice potential throughout camp. Yes, he’s had his down moments, but overall, coach Mike Munchak is pleased with the way Locker is coming around. The preseason has laid the groundwork for the regular season.  If anything, at least he hasn’t taken any steps back during the preseason, right? 

HEALTH

There’s no question that Locker’s 2012 regular season’s numbers were affected by his shoulder injury – he ultimately missed five games because of it. Locker is completely healthy right now and that in itself is huge. Health can’t be overstated, and Locker has it. He needs to get off to a quick start to put 2012 in the past, it would do wonders for his young psyche. For the moment, it appears that Locker is on track to complete his first full season as a starter. 

CHRIS JOHNSON

Then there is the Chris Johnson effect, which, in my mind, is the one that counts the most. If and when Johnson returns to form, that alone will be the greatest asset to Locker. When Johnson is effective, it opens up that much more for the offense. Play action will actually work, more one-on-one’s along the outside for his receivers and, most importantly, Locker’s throwing zones will be clearer for him. The Titans are going as far as Locker can take them, and quite frankly, Locker is going as far as Johnson can take him.

There are many factors that go into success or failure for a team, but in the NFL, it always comes down to the quarterbacks. Right now, it’s all on Locker -- fair or not. Expect him to deliver. After all, he has to.