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Jake Locker Shows Rhythm in No-Huddle

Posted Aug 5, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — No-huddle or huddle?

Situations, like shrinking time before a half or game, often determine the decision, but there are other elements involved.

The Titans wanted quarterback Jake Locker to lead a two-minute drill during Saturday’s mock game at LP Field, and he showed rhythm, completing six straight passes, with the no-huddle offense.

Titans QB Jake Locker completed six straight passes, including two to Nate Washington, during the two-minute drill in Tennessee's mock game at LP Field. Click here for a slideshow.

He was decisive with where to put the ball and solid in delivering it. Locker connected with Nate Washington on back-to-back throws, then found Kenny Britt and Taylor Thompson and took what was available with a pair of check-down passes to Chris Johnson.

The Titans moved the ball roughly 50 yards during the compressed period to get within field goal range before breaking for halftime.

Locker said the benefit of a full offseason as the team’s starting QB has increased his comfort level and confidence in the no-huddle offense.

“Over the past couple of years we’ve done pretty well in the no-huddle and two-minute situation,” Locker said. “We’ve had a little bit of success in it — not always successful, but I think we’ve found ways to maybe change the momentum by getting in the no-huddle so it’s something we’ve used in the past couple of years, and hopefully it will continue to be a strength for us.”

No-huddle isn’t reserved for the final two minutes of each half that often create so many memorable moments and sway the final results. Teams sometimes switch to it for a series if they feel they’ve slipped into a rut or just want to get a different tempo going to see how a defense responds.

“No-huddle is an opportunity for us to turn some things up,” Washington said. “Our no-huddle, and I’m pretty sure a lot of other teams attest to this, no-huddle offense is trying to make sure you change things up, give a different opportunity for the offense to go out and put a little more pressure on the defense. That’s going to be a huge thing for us. A lot of times, Jake gets in a rhythm. It opens up a lot of different things for us.”

The ticking clock in the two-minute scenarios demands quick decisions and crisp execution to effectively move the ball. Transferring certain elements of execution to non-hurry-up situations could benefit Tennessee in 2013.

Locker has made it a “priority” for the offense to play faster than it did a year ago. That includes his progressions on a play and getting the ball to receivers ahead of defenders to increase opportunities after the catch. There’s also the aspect of when to know to pull the ball down and use his athletic ability to run for yardage that’s available, say to set up a second-and-5 as opposed to second-and-10 or worse.

“I think a priority for me is playing faster whether that is through my progressions or decision making,” Locker said. “It’s just trying to make any decision whether it’s in the passing game or running out of the passing game, trying to make it a little faster to make those plays open up.”

Coach Mike Munchak likes what Locker can do in the no-huddle but said it’s important not to be too tempted because failure to execute can lead to a quick three-and-out that puts the defense back on the field too soon.

Munchak, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and defensive coordinator Jerry Gray have said that Tennessee must improve it’s time of possession of 27 minutes, 18 seconds per game that ranked last in the NFL in 2012, which makes going no-huddle less enticing.

The Titans, however, anticipate that other teams may use no-huddle a little more from time to time, so use of it during training camp has helped them prepare for when they need and want to implement it and when others utilize it.

“I think Jake is good at it and will be good at it,” Munchak said. “It’s something that we always carry. Our defense needs to work on it because there are so many teams that are thinking that’s the way to go now. Our defense has to be comfortable dealing with that because it can be frustrating if you don’t feel like you have a plan for it.”

Part of that planning is the defense using the huddle less. Instead of relying on the call to come in from the sideline to the headset in the helmet of the middle linebacker, players are looking to the sidelines for signals from near the spots that they will be when the ball is snapped.

Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey said the Titans are adjusting to that and see the benefits of it.

“We want to be lined up before the offense, so if everybody gets the call that much quicker, you’re already in your spots,” Casey said. “You don’t have to hurry up in the huddle and break right out. Everybody is already in their spots and you can get down. Once you’re down in your stance, the offensive linemen, they don’t know how to figure out certain things.”

Washington said Locker’s “always been a confident type of guy” but has observed the comfort level increase.

“He’s always been a vocal guy, but now he’s a lot more comfortable to make those types of plays,” Washington said. “I’m proud to see what he’s doing with his work. I’m proud to be a part of it, so we just have to make sure we’re behind him 110 percent.”

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