Michael Saenz

Fitzpatrick And Titans Offense Continues To Struggle

Created on Oct. 15, 2013 9:22 AM EST

Man, do the Tennessee Titans miss Jake Locker. They won’t admit to it publicly, but deep inside they do. So much.

Perhaps the simplest indication of that is their record with and without Locker. With him, they are 3-1. Without him, they are 0-2. Granted, in the two games with Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starter they did play the Kansas City Chiefs (6-0) and the Seattle Seahawks (5-1).

Still, in those two games sans Locker, the Titans have turned the ball over five times. In the four previous games that number was zero. Difference...

But can we just dump all the blame on Fitzpatrick? It’s easy to do and most of the stats point to that, but who is to say that Locker wouldn’t have struggled against those same two teams.

The ironic thing is that this stretch that Locker is missing happens to be the toughest stretch of games, on paper, for the Titans this season. In the two games as the Titans starter, Fitzpatrick has completed 54 percent of his passes with one touchdown, four interceptions, a 53.2 passer rating and six sacks.

Just to compare, Locker completed 62.2 percent for six touchdowns, no interceptions, for a passer rating of 99 and nine sacks in his 3.5 games played this season.

Obviously, the biggest difference is Locker’s ability to take care of the football this season, something that Fitzpatrick has failed to do. But also, the running game has been lacking lately, which could indicate one of two things.

First, it could mean that teams are not respecting the Titans passing ability with Locker out, or, second, it could mean that the offensive line and Chris Johnson are not getting it done. Either way, the running game needs to be productive again. Fast.

During the first four weeks, the Titans were averaging 108 rushing yards per game, as a team. In the last two weeks, that number has shriveled down to 86 yards per game.

A running game keeps a defense honest, without that, a quarterback tends to force the offense. Maybe Fitzpatrick is taking chances on too many throws, which has resulted in the increase in turnovers.

Then again, this could just be that Fitzpatrick has faced the third and second best defenses in the NFL, respectively.  

It’s been a while since the Titans offense has moved the ball in the crisp way that we saw at times earlier this season. To say that it’s all on Fitzpatrick would be wrong, but to say that he doesn’t deserve some blame would also be wrong.

When Locker went down, we knew that someone else was going to have to step-up to help fill the void, and that hasn’t happened. Sooner or later the Titans are going to need either Chris Johnson or Fitzpatrick to have a big game offensively.

Something tells me that it’s going to have to be the former.

LOCKER UPDATE: Mike Munchak said on Monday that Jake Locker would try to do more in rehab this week and the best-case scenario would to have Locker starting after the bye week against the Rams. 

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