Just as the Tennessee Titans began to show promise, their season came into question when starting quarterback Jake Locker suffered a hip injury in the 38-13 win over the New York Jets in Week 4. After being carted off the field and undergoing multiple examinations, he is expected to miss four to six weeks, according to Jim Wyatt of USA Today.
The Titans, who finished last season with a disappointing 6-10 record, look to add to their impressive 3-1 start without the services of their franchise quarterback.
Enter Ryan Fitzpatrick. The nine-year veteran will take the reins in Nashville and provides plenty of starting experience for multiple teams.
Prior to signing a two-year deal with the Titans as a veteran option behind Locker, the former Harvard quarterback was a three-year starter with the Buffalo Bills, after spending time as a backup for the St. Louis Rams and Cincinnati Bengals.
Fitzpatrick enters the Titans’ upcoming matchup against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs with a 59.4 completion percentage, 14,444 yards, 93 touchdowns, 81 interceptions and a 77.0 passer rating for his career. Although his numbers aren’t stellar, he should offer a serviceable replacement in the absence of Locker.
I’m not saying that he’s going to put up Peyton Manning-esque numbers or lead the league in passing, but Fitzpatrick will bring veteran experience to a young, improving team. With a top-10 defense, a strong running game and a talented group of youthful receivers, the Titans should be able to continue their success with a capable game manager like Fitzpatrick.
The biggest obstacle facing Fitzpatrick and the Titans is a tough schedule. Tennessee is scheduled to face Kansas City (4-0), the Seattle Seahawks (4-0) and San Francisco 49ers (2-2) before its Week 8 bye in the guaranteed four-week span without Locker.
However, the Titans also have several favorable matchups including Week 9 at the St. Louis Rams, Weeks 10 and 16 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Week 12 against the Oakland Raiders and Week 15 against the Arizona Cardinals. Outside of Jacksonville, Tennessee’s remaining AFC South matchups will be the true test as to whether it is a serious playoff contender.
Already holding a 3-1 record, the Titans are in excellent shape to make a serious postseason push with either quarterback if they can manage to survive their difficult schedule.