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Jake Locker Working Hard to Improve in Offseason

Posted Mar 6, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans quarterback Jake Locker visited 104.5 The Zone Wednesday morning to discuss how he’s progressing from January’s shoulder surgery, the team’s changing offense under new coordinator Dowell Loggains and other offseason changes.

It is currently the point in the offseason where players are not allowed to meet with coaches, but Locker has been doing rehab at the team facility and said he plans on starting to throw at off-site facilities next week.

Locker said the changes to the offense are designed to help the Titans play faster and reduce what’s left to interpret at each end of a pass play.

Locker said in addition to watching every Titans game from the past season to self critique his performance and develop ideas for improvement he also watched a lot of film from Green Bay games because of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers' performances.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

(on what the offseason is like when players are not allowed to meet with coaches)

It’s kind of similar to dead periods for coaches in college, where we’re not able to watch any film with the coaches, sit down one-on-one with them and talk through things. We’re able to do whatever we want on our own, so for me, it’s been going in and doing rehab every day, trying to get my shoulder back to full-strength and doing a workout. If we want to throw, we can’t do that at our facilities.

(on where he goes to throw)

We went to Father Ryan last year. It’s been great. A lot of us go over there and throw in our offseason. There’s places that wanted to let us go work out, which is nice.

(on Peyton Manning telling Matt Barkley he needs to be tough on his teammates work ethic and if Jake Locker is ready to do that)

Yeah, you know, and just reaching out to guys, letting them know that just because we’re in the offseason doesn’t mean we’re not interested in what’s going on, what you have going on, letting guys know that I’m going to be here, I’m going to be working out and would love to be throwing. There’s a couple of guys coming in next week. I can start doing a little bit of throwing next week, so kind of some things to get back together and get a jump start before we start on April 22.

(on how much the shoulder injury hampered him last season)

Part of the game, I think, is playing with injuries and it’s something you have to become accustomed to and have success doing. It didn’t go the way I wanted it to last year, but I’m going to work as hard as I can to get back to full strength and change that next year.

(on what he took away from his first year as a starter)

A lot of learning experiences, a lot of things I can take and have watched in the offseason that will make me a better player going forward and try not to repeat some of the mistakes I make.

(on if he’s gained more understanding of reading coverages and pre-snap activity)

I felt pretty confident with that. When we watched game film, there weren’t a lot of times when I thought it was one thing and it was something else. I think the biggest thing for me is when things broke down, sometimes I tried to make too much happen. That’s when I got in trouble, tried to force balls that ended up being turnovers and in situations where if I just throw it away or gain two or three yards with my legs, it puts our team in a better position, so I think overall, watching the stuff from last year, that’s where I can improve a lot: not try and make the big play all the time. When it presents itself, take advantage of it but don’t try and manufacture it.

(on how immersed he is in the offense he’ll play in this season)

I’m very familiar with it. It’s what we did our last two years at Washington, really similar styles, really similar verbiage.

(on Dowell Loggains saying he cut down the verbiage of each play)

Yeah, it’s a lot shorter, a lot more condensed. I have a lot of confidence in it. It’s what we did and I really grew accustomed to it in college.

(on how much film he watches and what he watches)

I went back and watched all of our games from last year, just to kind of see for myself when we go into OTAs this time of year, once I can start throwing a little bit, what I need to work on personally to improve, so I went back and did all that, kind of get an idea of drills we can work on at OTAs with Coach. I like to watch guys that I see similarities to, as far as, or kind of in some way want to pattern my game after guys who have had success and done really well, and how they’re able to do that, why they were able to do that, so watching some of their game tape and seeing what they do to be successful.

(on why he likes this offense and feels it’s better-suited for he and Titans receivers)

What we’re doing, ‘Hey, this is what you’re running,’ and depending on what they’re running or if a guy is playing great defense on you, if you’re not open, you’re not going to get the ball. There’s not as much room for interpretation on either end, and I think that cleans—it allows guys to play fast. When you play fast is when you’re able to be successful, and you’re able to play faster than maybe you are. When you’re thinking, it slows you down at every position. I think having the opportunity to know what you have in the passing game and be able to execute it allows everybody to play with speed and confidence.

(on if it stings that Jared Cook may not be with the Titans next season)

Yeah, I love Jared. I’m a big believer in Jared. I’ve really enjoyed playing with him. I’m praying and hoping that something works out where he ends up back here. I think he’s a really talented player, a really explosive player, a guy that creates matchup problems all over the field.

(on the opportunities that Cook would have in the new offense and under new tight ends coach George Henshaw)

I think our staff has done as much as they can to get that to him. It’s just the business part of it. It’s part of the game, as you know, and Jared’s got to look out for his best interests, as do the Titans. Like I said, at the end of the day, I hope something works out where he ends up here. You know how it is, you have teammates, and whether he does or not, I wish him the best. I want him to have a great career, wherever it may be, I just hope it’s here in Tennessee.

(on if he’s taken a look at film of Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson)

When I said I like to watch guys that have had success, I really enjoy watching Aaron Rodgers because I think he does a great job of using his mobility to his team’s advantage. He’s a great passer, got a great arm and he does really well in that offense but he does a lot with his legs to save drives and keep chains moving. He’s smart about it. He’s not looking to do it, but when it presents itself, he takes advantage of it, so I really like watching how he plays his game and how he’s able to be successful.    

(on using the read option versus using his legs to extend plays)

Whatever helps us win games, I’m up for.  That’s something I’m familiar with; we did it in college.  I thought, especially with Coach Sarkesian our last couple of years, he did a great job of using it as kind of a changeup.  It wasn’t like a staple, but it was a good changeup, something that they had to prepare for, be ready for, and we were able to put some different wrinkles in it and be successful with it.  I think that you are seeing its value, especially with some of the younger quarterbacks in the league after this year.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we have some things like that to kind of complement what we’re doing.

(on if he feels like his accuracy is an issue)

No, I don’t.  I never have.  At the end of the day, wins and losses is what everyone cares about, and obviously we didn’t get that done either.  I think that, for me, there’s situations I think when I had guys around me, sometimes I need to just become a little more comfortable throwing with a little bit of noise right in front of me.  That’s the things that I’ll work on this offseason, but I don’t think that’s a problem.  Just continuing to work and get better.  Who knows if that number will go up?  I hope the (win percentage) goes up.

(on the ability to lead receivers so that they can make yards after the catch)

I think that’s where you go from being a good passer to a great passer.  That’s what Aaron Rodgers does.  He just doesn’t throw to complete; he throws to give guys chances to extend plays—

(or to protect)

—or to protect, exactly.  Those are things that allow you to become a great player, in my opinion.  So you’re constantly working towards that.

(on not franchising Jared Cook or signing him to a new deal)

Yeah, we talked about it a little bit earlier.  There is a business in this game.  That’s the tough part about it.  I’m  a big fan of Jared Cook’s.  I said it earlier.  Even if it’s not with us, I hope he has great success.  I know he’s a very talented player, and he’s going to wherever he goes.  I hope that some way we figure out how that can be with us here in Tennessee.

(on how to maximize the running game, especially the play of Chris Johnson)

Chris had what, 1,200, 1,300 yards last year?  He had some big games for us, and he’s a big-play threat.  I think he’ll always be that.  We just have to find ways to be a little bit more consistent everywhere on offense, and I think that being able to establish a solid running game falls on everybody’s shoulders, not just Chris’.  I think that when you’re able to have success in the passing game, it softens them up a little bit, opens up some lanes in the running game.  Those are things that we’ll focus on.

(on his excitement to work with quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone)

Yeah, I think Coach Ragone is a young coach, got a lot of excitement, a lot of enthusiasm.  I think he’s got a lot of knowledge of the game, played the position himself.  He has that perspective, which I think’s always nice.  Yeah, I’m really looking forward to it. 

(on the adjustment of playing with new offensive linemen during the season due to injuries)

You hope that you’re going to have your guys that are your starters Week 1 be your starters Week 16, but I think the goal is to have eight, nine guys on your squad that you feel completely confident with no matter what happens.  That’s the goal every year going in, and I believe we had that.  We had guys that knew what they were doing.  They were able to go out and play with confidence, and it just shook out the way it did.

(on the offense struggling with red-zone efficiency in 2012 and how much of it was a mental issue)

It’s got to be an attitude that once we get inside the 20, we’re not going to settle for three points.  Three points isn’t enough.  You’ve got to do everything you can to put seven on the board.  I think it’s an attitude.  It’s a thought process, and that’s an area where we definitely need to improve. 

(on watching tape from last year, if he thought he ran too much or not enough)

As far as in the red zone, I felt like I didn’t run as much in the red zone as I did in the field.  There were opportunities for me to, and I didn’t, I feel like at times, just waiting for something to open up downfield when, like I said earlier, I could take four or five yards and put is in second-and-five instead of second-and-10.  Especially down there with a shortened field, any time you’re able to gain three or four yards, it shifts the advantage in your favor.  I thought for me, personally, there was opportunities for me to put ourselves in a better situation with my legs, and I didn’t take advantage of it as often as I should have.

(on if as the season progressed if he noticed defenses using a spy on him more often)

We saw a little more towards the end of the year, a few more teams running a spy — and not your typical spy standing in the middle just kind of watching.  One of the rush guys would kind of fall back out and just have responsibility for me.  It’s something that we were aware of, we’re conscious of, and the nice part about it is it takes one more guy out of the rush.  If you can identify who it is, you can plan accordingly. 

(on if he has been home this offseason)

Yeah, I went and spent some time up there right after I had surgery.  I went up there for about five weeks, so I had my sling on.  I saw some family and saw some friends, so it was nice.

(on the renovations of the football stadium at the University of Washington)

They completely re-did it.  It’ll be done June, July, I believe.  They’ll be in it this year.  I saw a lot of the plans.   It still has the covers over it.  They just took the track out, dropped the field down, added some suites and re-did the whole lower bowl.  

(on if wind was a problem playing at Washington)  

It’s always swirling.  You never know which direction.  It changes two or three times in the game, but we practice in the stadium a lot.  You get used to it.  

(on how much potential the Washington program has)  

I think you saw it in the 90’s, how good of a program they can be.  There’s a lot of good players on the West Coast there, and I think that you’re seeing the recruiting classes improve.  As that happens, there’s so much support there, and I think there’s a great staff there right now, I think they can be a real special team.  

(on how he views what Oregon does with their uniforms)  

Different guys, different tastes, I guess.  A lot of guys like it because it’s something new for them all the time.   I’m not as big a fan of it.  I like having a couple ones that are … I like the more simple ones. 

(on what he has to say to naysayers)  

For me, those opinions, they don’t really matter to me.  I’m not playing for those people.  I love it here in Nashville.  I’m doing everything I can to be the best player I can be for the Tennessee Titans, and I’ll continue to do that as long as I’m here.  I’m not going to stick up for myself.  I’m going to work as hard as I can this offseason and do everything I can to be the best player and teammate I can.  Hopefully you’ll see the results on the field this next fall.  

(on the biggest differences between Chris Palmer’s offense and the current offense)  

I think the biggest difference between the two is just the style.  There were a lot of options in the last offense, and it’s been successful.  But there’s a lot less decision on both the receiver and the quarterback’s part this year.  I expect there to be a little bit faster speed.  

(maybe a little less verbiage in the huddle)  

Yeah, a little less indecision, I think.  

(on how he feels about the home crowd at LP Field)  

We have a good fan base here.  I think the Titans have sold out, what, every game since we’ve been here.  There’s a good support system here.  It’s on us a little bit, too, to win games.  It’s a lot more fun for fans to come watch when you’re winning.  It’s on us to turn that around and win more games.  I think that fans and players alike can always turn it up a little bit and make it uncomfortable for those other teams.  If you can make it to some games, get out there, and  I’d love to hear you in the stands.  

(on who his sports heroes were growing up)  

I’ve read a lot of books on Michael Jordan.  I love Michael Jordan.  I was a big Brett Favre fan.  I love watching him play, just from a standpoint of it always looked fun for him.  He’s a real competitive, fiery guy, but it was always fun. He enjoyed playing the game, and I like that.  

(on if he was a Bulls and Packers fan living in the Northwest)  

I guess those were the players I really liked … Those were a few of the guys that I enjoyed watching … I was a big Ken Griffey Jr. fan.  He was my favorite baseball player.  I think he’s the greatest of all-time …  

(on using audibles on first or second down if the defense has stacked the box)  

I think that’s something that especially through these OTAs you build confidence with.  Find two or three that you have confidence in and you’re able to execute, and hopefully discourage doing that first and second down.  That’s something that we’ll figure out with the coaching staff and find a comfort level in and go from there.  

(on learning to go through progressions and have patience)  

Yeah, I touched on that a little bit earlier, and I think there’s a fine line between trying to do that too much and create something that’s not there and playing for the next down, understanding that second-and-10 isn’t terrible.  It’s better than an interception or turnover or a sack for a loss of yards and you’re in second-and-15.  So there’s a fine line of trying to extend plays, make something happen, but creating something out of nothing …   

(on the scramble drill for the receivers that gives the quarterback options when things break down on a play)   That’s something that you work on in practice, and I think that the more realistic you can make that in a practice setting, the better you’re going to be at it in the game.  So, you know, when stuff breaks down in the team period, not giving up on it and continuing to play.  That’s where you build that comfort level in doing those types of things.

(on how his relationship with Matt Hasselbeck has evolved)

We have a great relationship.  He’s meant a lot to me, both on and off the field.  (He has) taught me a lot about playing this position and the professionalism that you’ve got to carry yourself with all the time.  I’m thankful to have the opportunity to be here with him and spend the time with him that I have.

(on Hasselbeck approaching him during a game to offer his insight)

Yeah, he’s great about that, and I let him know, ‘Look, any time you see something, or you’ve got something, give it to me.’  We talk about it a little bit, or, ‘Just let me know what you’re seeing.’  He’s great about that, always great encouragement, and really helpful stuff. 

(on how much he uses his eyes to look off defenders)

We were taught to look right down the middle of the field always because when we were moving our eyes we were moving defenders, and that affected the reads that our receivers had on their routes.  So we were encouraged just to look right down the middle of the field so you didn’t move anybody, so guys could get a clean read for their routes.  That wasn’t something that we were coached or taught to do. 

(on who he would pick first for the Titans in the upcoming NFL Draft)

That’s a good question, really good question.  I haven’t followed the draft as closely as I have in past years.  That’s why I’m not being paid to be the GM, first of all (laughter).  There’s a lot of good talent.  Watching the combine, there’s a lot of guys that can play.  Again, that’s tough.  That’s a great question, and I honestly think I’m going to have to defer to the GM. 

(on what the Combine was like for him)

Like a meat market, yeah.

(on if it is hard for him to talk to the typically-reserved David Stewart)

No, he’s awesome.  He’s one of my favorite guys on the team.  I like Big Country.

(on if he has decided to try and not make tackles after turnovers due to the injury risk)

I’ve been strongly discouraged to do that by the coaching staff.  It’s part of the game.  Just because you’re a quarterback doesn’t mean you’re not a football player.  It doesn’t give you an exemption from keeping a team out of the end zone, in my opinion.

(on having his “head on a swivel” after an interception)

Yeah, no doubt.  You’re being cautious of the big hit, no doubt.  Personally, the stance I have on that is I wouldn’t be able to walk back into the locker room and feel good about myself, knowing that I turned that down.  I wouldn’t be able to turn to my teammates and say, ‘Look, I did truly give you everything I had.’  So personally, I don’t know if I’ll ever get to the point where I’ll just say, ‘I’m not going to make the tackle.’  That’s just not in my nature.  That’s not the kind of person I am.  That’s not how I was taught to play the game.  Obviously, be smart about it, but I can’t sit here and tell you I’m ever going to be able to turn it down.

(on if there is a defensive lineman that talks the most trash)

You guys were probably out at practice when we had Shaun Smith.  He was great at it.  He was very calculated in what he did.  He used it as a part of his game as an advantage.

(on an opposing defensive lineman that talked trash)

Gosh, not that comes to mind right away.  No, not one that I was like, ‘Wow, that guy said a lot during the game.’

(on what he likes to do in the offseason)

I like to be outdoors, just being able to be outside and experience the beauty of what God’s created for us.  It’s awesome.  I think it’s amazing when you really get out and you’re able to spend time where there’s nothing around, nobody around and just be outside.  Turkey season is right around the corner.  I look forward to that; it’s a lot of fun.

(on if he likes the television show Duck Dynasty)

Yeah, it’s one of the greatest shows.  It’s entertaining, and you can watch it with the whole family.  It’s clean.  It’s not dirty like some of the shows out now.  They value the right things: family, faith.  It’s a grounded show that you get a lot of entertainment out of, and so I really enjoy watching it.

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