Kerry Collins may have been one of the greatest journeyman quarterbacks to play in this generation of football, and even though he bounced from team to team, he was still greatly respected throughout the NFL. Earlier this week, Collins made the choice to retire from the NFL, concluding his 16-year career with the Tennessee Titans.
For Collins, this decision makes perfect sense, as the 2011 season is still in jeopardy, and the Titans have drafted their long-term quarterback in Jake Locker.
However, this move hurts the Titans more than Collins could have ever imagined. By retiring, it leave the Titans with Locker, a rookie who has been questioned more than any player in the draft, with no one to ease him into the NFL game. There will be no veteran quarterback on the roster, as Vince Young was released by the team before the NFL locked out.
With Locker being as heavily scrutinized as he was, there has to be some doubt in the Titans organization that he will be able to succeed at the next level. There is no chance that the Titans would have released Young if they would have had knowledge that Collins was on the road to retirement. In light of the recent news, the Titans really only have two options to help themselves and Locker in the process.
1. Allow Jake Locker to Start Day One, and Allow Him To Get Used to The NFL Game on His Own
This is looking like the most likely option, considering that the NFL lockout has put a strangle-hold on any other alternatives for the time being. The Titans drafted Locker eighth overall, with what many consider the biggest reach of the draft, and they obviously had plans for him to start in Tennessee. As far as how soon they wanted him to start, will remain unknown, as the Titans don't have much of a choice at the moment.
Behind Locker on the depth chart, the Titans have two NFL flops in Chris Simms and Rusty Smith, who would be most beneficial to Locker if they just washed his jersey after practice. So in essence, it will be on Locker to take the reigns and learn the NFL game on the fly. With no veteran presence on the team, and the Titans window of opportunity closing, Locker is going to be all on his own to start winning games in Tennessee from day one.
2. Pursue a Veteran Free Agent Quarterback That Can Help Locker Learn Before He Starts
This option would be the Titans best bet, but the lockout is still in effect. Which means that Tennessee will have a very small window to locate and sign a veteran that is currently a free agent, making the chances of finding someone good enough seems unlikely. There is a chance that the lockout may end before the season begins, and if that is the case, the Titans may be in luck.
But my honest opinion is that right now, the lockout will continue until the last minute, and when both sides start to really feel the heat, they will make the necessary agreements to get the season going again. If my theory holds true, then the Titans will have little time to locate that quarterback, meaning that they may be better off just starting Locker anyway.
Even though Collins may have thought he was making the right choice for everyone, he actually put the Titans in a very tough spot. The most likely bet right now is that Locker will start from day-one, struggle immensely adjusting to the NFL, and then suddenly break out and become the quarterback that he was at Washington. Until then the
Titans will just shoulder the load onto their franchise running back Chris Johnson, like any other NFL team would do.