Johnny Preseason

Jake Locker only threw two passes in a rain-soaked preseason debut against the Packers. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Jake Locker only threw two passes in a rain-soaked preseason debut against the Packers. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Tennessee: Fixing Jake.

Completion percentages, by season, in Jake Locker’s college (University of Washington) and NFL (Tennessee) career:

Year Team Pct. Attempts
2007 Washington .473 155
2008 Washington .538 93
2009 Washington .584 394
2010 Washington .554 332
College total .540 1,147
2011 Tennessee .515 66
2012 Tennessee .564 314
2013 Tennessee .607 183
  NFL total .572 563
 

Average completion percentage across the NFL last year: .612. In six college and pro seasons, Locker has never reached that number.

“His stats are what he is,’’ said new coach Ken Whisenhunt. “But that doesn’t mean he can’t change.”

Whisenhunt has participated in the career upturns of Ben Roethlisberger, Kurt Warner and Philip Rivers. In his office one recent day before practice, he got up from his chair and demonstrated one of the off-season lessons for Locker: widening his stance before throwing, and shortening his stride. “Jake was here,’’ Whisenhunt said, with his feet close together, “and when he threw with that long stride, I think it caused him to overthrow. I don’t want that giant stride. He’s fixed that … We’ve asked him to do a lot out of his comfort zone this offseason, and he has responded well. When he works hard and pays attention to his in-the-pocket mechanics, they’re really good. And that has a lot to do with your accuracy.’’

“Do you think Jake’s your quarterback of the future?” I said.

“I hope so,’’ Whisenhunt said. “I feel good about what I see out here [in practice]. But you’re not getting hit out here either. The question is, can you do all the right things when you’re about to get hit?”

I saw the Titans scrimmage inside their stadium when I was in Nashville, and Locker’s improvement showed some—but as Whisenhunt pointed out, the quarterbacks wore the red don’t-hit-me jerseys. He hit two nice out routes to Nate Washington, and a longer seam throw to Washington up the left side. Two zits: At the line of scrimmage before one snap, safety Bernard Pollard yelled out to corner Jason McCourty, “Watch the double move!!” Immediately, Locker straightened up and called time. Not good. He’s got to process information quicker—defenders are going to be doing things like that every play during the season. And in the red zone, he threw a pass that was picked by linebacker Wesley Woodyard at the goal line, an awful throw that looked like it was intended for Woodyard. He completed six of seven on the drive, but that seventh throw, in a game, would have been a dagger.

Make no mistake: This is a proving year for Locker. He’s got this year, his fourth in Tennessee, to convince Whisenhunt and GM Ruston Webster he’s the quarterback for the long haul. He’s going to have to stay healthy—injuries have curtailed both of his last two seasons—and show Whisenhunt that he can move the chains with accuracy and intelligence. “I have tremendous confidence in what we’re doing, and I think if you throw the ball with conviction you’re going to be a more accurate thrower,’’ Locker said.

Whisenhunt, who was hired to replace Mike Munchak in January, inherited Locker. Over the next five months Locker will show the Titans whether they’ll need to be in the 2015 quarterback market. His history shows it’s going to be a tough task, but certainly not impossible. He’s a mobile player and good leader, and if he takes coaching well, he’s got a chance to stay.

* * *

Kansas City: You had to see this to believe it.

Moment of the week on The MMQB Training Camp Tour, Thursday night, as The MMQB team stood on the sideline late in the fourth quarter of Bengals-Chiefs:

The Kansas City quarterbacks witness Bengals quarterback Matt Scott puke through his facemask. Taking a shotgun snap, he pukes again.

“The dude’s projectile-vomiting!” quarterback Tyler Bray said.

Timeout, Cincinnati, Fifty-three seconds left. Scott goes to the sidelines. Look out below! Another stream of vomit. Trainers hover, concerned. Scott wipes his mouth and heads back to the field. Third-and-one. Bengals down 10. Scott, in the shotgun, takes the snap, and fires a line drive to the gut of post-running wideout Conner Vernon, a Chiefs corner draped on him. Touchdown. Good catch. Better throw. Bengals go for two. Scott takes the snap, looks to throw, sees an opening, sprints up the middle. Conversion good.

Matt Scott had a sick debut in his first game as a Bengal. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Matt Scott had a sick debut in his first game as a Bengal. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Who throws up for three times in a few minutes, comes back on the field, makes a perfect throw on the next play, then runs in the two-point conversion?

“I did it before,” said Scott, the former Arizona Wildcat, still energized, walking off the field a little wobbly after the game. “Against USC. I got hit hard, puked, and threw a touchdown pass on the next play. Then they took me out.” Turns out he shouldn’t have been in the game after the hit. He’d been concussed.

I asked him what happened tonight. “Been sick all week,” said Scott, a 2013 undrafted free agent who spent last season on the Jaguars’ practice squad. “Some kind of virus, some sinus thing. I’ve been taking antibiotics. Felt awful all week. But there’s no way I wasn’t playing tonight. No time to be sick.”

In the Kansas City locker room, the quarterbacks couldn’t believe what they’d seen. Much respect to the vomitous Bengal.

“Really impressive,” said Alex Smith. “I’ve never seen anything like that in my life.”

Tyler Bray said: “He projectile-vomited, and he threw a dime. Who does that?”

Fast-forward two days. Tough business, the NFL. Scott is already number four on the Bengals’ QB depth chart, and Cincinnati signed another passer, Tyler Wilson, for camp competition on Saturday.

KANSAS CITY CAMP REPORT: Chiefs pick up where they started

* * *

It’s a good day when Football Outsiders Almanac comes out.

Camp Epicenter

Get team-by-team previews and camp reports, along with other features and analysis from The MMQB's writers, in the 2014 Training Camp Hub.

The usual good job has been done by editor Aaron Schatz and his Football Outsiders crew (Mike Tanier, Doug Farrar, Jason Lisk, Christopher Price, Chase Stuart) on “Football Outsiders Alamanac 2014.’’ Some prime tidbits:

  • FO projects college receivers to the NFL with a system called Playmaker Score. In general, the mark of a really good prospect is a Playmaker Score above 80 percent. This year, 13 rookie receivers hit this mark. FO’s database goes back to 1996, and there had never been a season with more than eight such players. FO actually projects Brandin Cooks, not Sammy Watkins, as the top prospect among this year’s wide receivers. (The highest Playmaker Score ever belonged to Randy Moss.)
  • The Minnesota Vikings had the worst offense on second-and-short (1-2 yards to go) of any offense in FO’s play-by-play database, going back to 1989. Yes, they did this despite having Adrian Peterson. Yes, this is an indicator of likely improvement in 2014. Yes, it’s particularly an indicator of likely improvement because it’s the kind of problem that a new offensive coordinator would likely attack first.
  • My favorite of their stats in this year’s book: Arizona used shotgun formations (including pistol) on 38 percent of offensive plays last season, less than any other team. To show you how much the NFL has changed, that would have LED THE LEAGUE just 10 years ago. (Indianapolis used shotgun on a league-leading 32 percent of plays in 2003.) Philadelphia used shotgun or pistol on 86 percent of its plays last year, the highest rate in NFL history.
  • Speaking of Chip Kelly’s influence, the Eagles averaged 6.6 yards after catch, the highest figure since FO started tracking YAC in 2005. Particularly impressive was their average of 12.1 yards after catch on passes thrown at or behind the line of scrimmage (NFL average: 8.9). However, the Eagles weren’t just about the short pass. They threw 28 percent of their passes deep (at least 15 yards past the line of scrimmage). No other offense was above 24 percent.
  • Chicago used six offensive linemen on 16 percent of plays last year—no other NFL team was above 10 percent—and they were excellent on these plays. In general, teams pass about one-fourth of the time when using an extra lineman, but the Bears passed on 47 percent of these plays. The Bears averaged 6.2 yards per play; of the 10 teams to use an extra lineman most often, the closest in yards per play was Atlanta at 5.0.
  • Andy Reid Self-Parody Department: Pre-Reid, Kansas City ranked first in the league, running on 50 percent of first downs in 2012. That plummeted to 33 percent (30th) last season, Reid’s rookie Chiefs’ year.
  • Patriots receivers dropped 38 passes, more than any other team except Detroit. But the Patriots’ defense benefited from 40 opponent drops, more than any defense except Green Bay’s.

You can buy a PDF version of the Almanac or a hard copy. My advice to you: Don’t start the season without it.

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255 comments
JRoy_20
JRoy_20

With these practice squad increases across the league, this could be big for bubble players. I'm hoping to see rookie QB Brock Jensen of NDSU picked up somewhere and put on PS. His potential is something many people want to see in this league. The kid is a winner and has proved that. Also very talented and developed. He played in the FCS like Romo, but proved to win big against teams in the Big 12 (youtube NDSU/Kansas St final drive) Would really like to see him get a shot. 

pricklypearcycler
pricklypearcycler

Look at all of the white guys in the Fox broadcast booth for the Chief's/Panthers game.

JoeMoon
JoeMoon

Judge Wilken ruled five thousand dollars 'max", not minimum. 

Far different implications.

wwrightmcdonald
wwrightmcdonald

"When he finished showering and dressing (white button-down Oxford shirt, dress jeans) after the game, he stood at his locker and quietly talked on his phone or talked to a couple of the team PR guys softly."


This is the kind of journalism that wins you the Red Smith Award! But seriously Peter, how big is your pants-tent for Johnny Manziel on this day in mid-August? Inevitably with the Browns, Hoyer will lose the job, Manziel might be lucky to win 6 games while learning the coverages and check-downs and progressions, and the Browns will be slightly better come next off-season. Next story please!

VoodooPeoples
VoodooPeoples

I cant not imagine someone telling you to go bleep yourself 19 times, 18 should have been enough. lol 

Ciscos
Ciscos

I said this the other day about Johnny Football. Marketing will say he needs to be the starter.  Logic says Hoyer. I lean toward Hoyer cause marketing has never won a football game.


Hoyer, limited experience (as some like to point out) or not, he has game experience.  That game experience counts for a lot when the season comes.  Manziel, obviously doesn't.  And once NFL defenses start scheming for him that wild ride at the amusement park is going to come to a screeching halt.


Manziel will have his day and his time.  It's just not right now.  That is unless Hoyer gets hurt or stinks up the place.

tmadz
tmadz

RE: fan disagreeing with Kain Colter about student compensation/union organizing


If you're going to disagree with a Northwestern graduate and hope to have any credibility, don't say "Bro".

JTsportsguy
JTsportsguy

Does anyone seriously NOT think Johnny Football will have any success in the NFL?  We have him ranked right now and are BUMPING up his rankings - his first week was impressive, he ran effectively and threw efficiently.  http://www.fantasyfballchamps.com

BillyBobRoberts
BillyBobRoberts

The Brownies might be clueless, but they know Hoyer is not a franchise QB. He's just ok. Johnny should and will be the starter. This year is wasted anyways because they can only score FGs, especially if Gordon is suspended. So why not start the rookie?

Nuadormrac
Nuadormrac

"As far as football goes, I’m seeing him put the ball on the money like a veteran. Sometimes the receiver drops it. Sometimes the receiver isn’t even looking for the ball and it bounces off him. He’s got the confidence a quarterback has to have.” "


This, would be why a QB can be inclined to run the ball, especially if they are able to both scramble AND throw.  Confidence includes not only confidence in one's self, but in one's receivers, which also needs to be demonstrated.  Even top QBs, if they had receivers who have a case of the dropsies can either end up getting a look of frustration (look at Tom Brady's face during many games last season before Gronkowski returned for a time), or can be inclined to pass on a possible receiver if there are a lot of drops.  Case in point, when Jermichael Finley kept dropping the ball, and Aaron Rodgers went to throw to other targets (who were also more likely to catch the thing).  Finley balked, and talked about QB chemistry, while complaining that Rodgers seemed to be ignoring him, but the fact is Rodgers had to make a judgment call, on what would most likely to be a successful play.


These are some of the known top QBs, who can be in this position.  If Brady was likely to pick Wes Welker (when he played for the Pats), or Gronk, if Rodgers were to pass more often to some receivers then others (though Rodgers has arguably passed it around a fair bit), it isn't simply a personal matter.  If someone wants the QBs attention, they also need the QBs confidence, that they're good on making the play.  Passing involves 2 players, not just one.  There's the one throwing it, but also the one catching it.  For the play to be successful, both players have to be on their game.


If he isn't sure who he can count on to catch, when he sees someone who doesn't have his head in the game, and the ball just bounces off the player who isn't even looking for a pass, as QB he has to make a judgment call, on how likely that guy is going to catch the ball when the game counts on it.  If running the ball is more likely to get a successful play, that can weigh in on the decision.  And without sounding like Finley here, chemistry, and developing chemistry as the players play with each other can be a part of it.  But this isn't all on the QB either, unlike what Finley suggested, because the receiver is part of the equation and does need to actually try to catch the ball (which Finley had not).  Receivers not even looking for the ball, and getting hit by the thing as it bounces off them, is none too good, itself...

CobyPreimesberger
CobyPreimesberger

yeah the biggest problem for the browns, is one player they have now gordon, will likely be out the entire season, i mean this is one of the dumbest things of the cba where a player can play in the pre-season, i mean anyone understand the reasoning behind that.


as for sam, he'll likely end-up on the practice squad and pk putting out there that katie couric and anderson cooper weren't granted interviews tells you all you need to know, again if this guy were any other 254th pick in the draft, he would be ignored

eddie767
eddie767

P.K.

     20+ K had nothing to do with Pats/Brady in town, Rich.VA. That's everyday for the 3 wks they are here. What changed was there were Pats jerseys mixed with some CBoys ones. We, the fans, support daily. Now, the question should be do these ppl have jobs. Just joking. Glad you came to town.

SentryVirginia
SentryVirginia

Give him 1.5 years, then its "RGIII time" in the hospital watching football on TV.

KBowen7097
KBowen7097

7 of 11. One incompletion was caught barely out of bounds. One was dropped. One would have been completed if a more veteran receiver had slid of gone to ground. That could easily have been 10 for 11.

Knute
Knute

Johnny Football is Lightening in a bottle, do not stopper him up, the other guy, well just the other guy!

Aggie81
Aggie81

I guess the fact that all of the Cleveland players standing on the side line watching (instead of sitting on the bench), and a few making the "Manziel money" gesture after he completed the scramble up the middle of of the field for a first down eluded this reporter.  Or how the stands emptied after Johnny was done playing for the evening....


Johnny "Cash", "Football", "Heisman", Manziel  teased everyone just enough to tune in next Monday Night for a little more of what's to come...


magicvilas
magicvilas

Dan-O stunk, but Kellen Moore looked great.

I know it was against scrubs, but it was WITH scrubs too...

He put every pass on target.

BushidoBrownsRevenge
BushidoBrownsRevenge

I try not to dislike a player due to media hype (Its not Jadeveon Clowney's fault that ESPN showed his play vs Michigan 900 times a day) but they getting to me with Manziel. I want to see him do well but I am tired of hearing about him.

LucilleBluth
LucilleBluth

What a stupid blurbed that Martez Wilson bit is. If you like a player enough you sign him and send someone home, simple as that. The NFL has proven time after time to be a heartless business(watch Hard Knocks in the coming weeks) yet is to soft to send a guy home because they were overseas?? Really!?!?


I don't think there should be a team in London but not because of that ridiculous anecdote. 

metalhead65
metalhead65

hey Peter you should also check out Johnny Cueto and his stats playing for a offensively challenged reds ball club. kershaw's numbers are impressive but so are Cueto's.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

Why doesn't that logic apply to Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, or John Elway - to name a few?

Nuadormrac
Nuadormrac

@KBowen7097 

The receiver is just as important a part to the passing game, as is the QB...  Just look at Tom Brady's facial expression in the games from last season (himself a proven veteran QB), after he was down Welker (went to a different team), down Hernandez (went and killed someone and got himself in jail), and down Gronkowski (due to injury)...  Did it effect the game?  Quite arguably, looking at the earlier games last season, but that it wasn't him simply losing it, when Gronk was back, you could see how the games went for the Pats both before and after Gronk's return.


One shouldn't underestimate the importance the receiver plays, even though people typically focus in on the QB.  The QB does depend on his receivers, to have a successful passing game.  This isn't just a Manziel thing either; it applies to just about any QB.  To successfully throw, one also needs the receiver, if that's out, what remains?  The running game, or?


Needless to say, and just to demonstrate also how being able to scramble or run isn't really a bad thing, look at what happens when the Packers (very effective passing attack), goes up against the 49ers.  They've arguably gotten better at addressing more physical teams like the 9ers, but we do see the same thing again and again.


But to have an effective passing attack, there has to also be receivers, that well, do catch the ball.  When the coaches are saying that the receivers aren't always looking for it, and it sometimes bounces off the receiver, when the pass was (the coaches words) "on the money"; does suggest an issue at the receiving end, itself.

Wombat
Wombat

@KBowen7097 I know but almost just doesn't count. He didn't do badly he just hasn't shown anyone enough to get the job or deserve the hype... yet. Give him time. I'm pretty sure he'll be the starter sometime this year and probably sooner than later... but the game this weekend wasn't enough.

Corey9
Corey9

@Knute so much talk about a team that will be lucky to win 5 games

Corey9
Corey9

@Aggie81 maybe against a first team defense too instead of a bunch of guys destined for the practice squad!

Wombat
Wombat

@Aggie81 Really? Even the local sportscasters in Ohio are saying he didn't do much. He may go on to be great but this weekend's game didn't show anything. It's much too early to tell.

Mike D2
Mike D2

@BushidoBrownsRevenge It's only just begun...the kid hasn't even played a snap in a regular season game yet. Blame the media for their obsession with him. He's doing and saying the right things, being a good teammate, and a humble rookie. If you are already tired of hearing of him part of that falls on you for continually exposing yourself to the media, reading this article on SI.com, watching an ESPN segment on the depth chart at Browns camp, etc. Not saying you can totally avoid Manziel talk if you watch ESPN, NFL network, or SI...but it seems like a lot of people rooting against him are all over the media coverage but then use that coverage as the reason they hate him.

Wombat
Wombat

@metalhead65 Very true. If Cueto played for a team that could actually hit he'd be in the running for a Cy Young award... as it is he won't get much attention.

Mike26
Mike26

@BillRobinson Those QB's you mention were all more prepared physically and mentally to take over and learn at faster rates.  John Manziel, if he continues upon his current path, will be so beaten up over the next two years may not make it to three years in the league.  He just doesn't have the history of being the film guy that he'll need to be to improve from playing; the others learned from the field and the film.  Just my opinion...

SandersonKramer
SandersonKramer

@Wombat @KBowen7097 And Hoyer's 6 for 14 has and his 4 starts in the pros has, his one good performance in 2013 has, his being undrafted and released by 2 teams, has?

Mike26
Mike26

@Wombat @Aggie81 You'll have to excuse the Manzealots...those Aggies lose much of their reasoning and rationale when it comes to John Manziel.

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