Dilfer says Titans rushed Locker into starting role
NFL analyst Trent Dilfer of ESPN said Tuesday that he sees some of himself in Jake Locker, and that the same things that plagued his own NFL career are plaguing the Tennessee Titans' starting quarterback.
The subject came up during Dilfer's visit on "SportsNight" on 102.5 The Game in Nashville when the ex-QB was asked by Locker could look so good on a difficult throw and then miss an easy toss like one to Kenny Britt that could have sealed a Titans win Sunday in Houston. The interview was picked up by TitanInsider.com.
“It’s development. It’s the little things, the craft of the position, the mechanics, the nuances, the eye placement, the rhythm, the tempo. It’s all these things that you can’t really show somebody that hasn’t held the ball in their hands and done it,” Dilfer said. “The greats make it look so easy because they pay such close attention to the little things. I’m passionate about it because I stunk at it - because I was Jake Locker. I could make any throw. I could do the splash play, I had all the ability in the world, and yet I would miss a gimme.”
Dilfer said he didn't realize until late in his career that he needed to pay such close attention to what he termed the "lonely work." He went on to say that because Tennessee inserted Locker as the starter last year, that Locker hasn't had the time to put in that work either.
“Everybody knew he had a ton of talent. He’s a great kid, he’s tough, he’s a leader. He’s everything you want, but he hasn’t yet had enough of the craftsmanship work. He hasn’t gone to the lab and done the lonely work. Not that he hasn’t wanted to, but he’s always been thrown into the fire and asked to play because of his talent,” Dilfer said. “That’s why I think the best thing the Titans could have done was to have built around Matthew (Hasselbeck). He was playing at a high level if he could stay healthy you would have won some games, and Jake could have been there getting the lonely work done, so that when he was asked to play, there was more craft to his game that he could embrace the nuances a little bit more.
“I love Jake. He’s one of my favorite people. I think he’s a great talent and a great kid. I get so frustrated watching him play, because he can make the very difficult look very easy, but he can make the very easy look next to impossible.”
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Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com