Friend and fellow blogger Jamal Black covers the Tennessee Titans for Titans Report. In advance of the Raiders/Titans game on Sunday, I asked him some questions about what the Raiders can expect from the also-inconsistent Titans on Sunday.
Question 3: What is your impression of Ryan Fitzpatrick as a QB? What should the Raiders expect?
Answer: Ryan Fitzpatrick is not a great quarterback. He can be good, however, and good is still desirable in the NFL. There’s a wide range of quality between bad and elite. Fitzpatrick is probably somewhere in the middle. He’s nothing to write home about, (that’s why he came in as a backup), but he’s better than many have. It’s hard to answer this question without discussing the alternative, so I’ll start there.
Jake Locker is an enigma. Sometimes he plays well. Sometimes he plays poorly. Too often he doesn’t play at all due to injuries sustained. Locker is a high character player who puts in the work and who has the athletic ability. I want him to succeed but I’m not a whole lot closer to knowing whether or not that will happen than I was after the rookie year he spent backing up Matt Hasselbeck.
Locker played safe football before his first injury this year. I liked that Locker and felt he was progressing. I was upset when he was injured and felt there was a drop-off to Fitzpatrick. I was excited when Locker came back from injury but then he played some pretty bad football upon his return. I have no idea what to make of that Jake Locker and on a game to game basis I’m not convinced it’s a bad thing Fitzpatrick is playing instead of Locker.
Fitzpatrick doesn’t have the wheels that Locker did, but he has more awareness and feel in the pocket and isn’t afraid to run the ball. Some of his better plays have been scrambles and/or getting outside the pocket and improvising a pass. I’d also say that Fitzpatrick has better recognition at this stage in his/Locker’s career. I believe he’s getting through reads faster and it shows. Probably the biggest concerns I have with Fitzpatrick is his ballpark accuracy and exhibited habit of turning the ball over one way or another.
The Titans use Kendall Wright almost exclusively on short routes seeking YAC. Outside of him, Titans receivers have gone missing. Britt is almost a non-factor on the year, Hunter is mostly just a jump ball threat, Williams is injured and passes to Washington end up dropped or intercepted of late. If it weren’t for the emergence of tight end Delanie Walker, the Titans might not have had a passing offense against Indianapolis last week.
With Locker in and out of the offense, run game struggles and general inconsistency all around – it’s hard to know what to expect from the Titans on offense. Will they come out running or passing? Will no-huddle be much of a factor? Heavy sets or spreading wide? I truly have no idea. This makes it hard to project what Fitzpatrick will do.
Against the Jaguars and Colts, Fitzpatrick played well enough to win. Against the Chiefs and Seahawks, he was a big part of the reason the Titans lost. I don’t think Fitzpatrick has much magic in him but he can contribute and lead an offense. I hope that his mistakes will be minimized through experience in the offense. That’s a hope, however, and if things come down to the wire and he presses – his fourth quarter comeback success rate is low for a reason.