Being a babysitter is one of the worst jobs any high school kid can take on. You miss out on Friday night fun, you have to deal with little rug rats who eat a bag of cookies when you said they can only have one, and once he’s ready one of those ankle biters will take over your starting job and be an All Pro quarterback in the NFL.
Alright, that last part might not apply to everyone. But as much as we heap praise on veteran leaders who act as mentors to young players as they prepare to fade off into the football sunset, it’s easy to see why that’s not too appealing right now for Kerry Collins, the Titans quarterback and soon-to-be free agent. In his biblical Monday Morning Quarterback column, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King repeated a quote from Tennessee guard Jake Scott, who told King on Sirius XM Radio last week that he doesn’t think Collins is too keen on the idea of being a placeholder for Jake Locker.
“I’m not sure Kerry isn’t going to say, ‘I’m done,’ and ride off into the sunset. I don’t think he wants to come back and be a nursemaid to a young kid. Money’s not an issue to him.”
Locker was part of the Great QB Reach of 2011, and was one of four QBs selected in the top 12 after going to the Titans at No. 8. At one point during the pre-draft silly season there was talk of Locker falling out of the first round, and then something magical happened and suddenly he was a top 10 pick again. It’s obviously clear that he’s the newest quarterback of the future for the Titans after the last quarterback of the future threw his shoulder pads more accurately than his deep out.
If we’re operating under the assumption that football will be played in 2011, we’re also rolling with the same clear assumption that Locker’s time under center in Tennessee will come rather soon. But with the lockout drastically reducing the window for rookie head coach Mike Munchak and his staff to groom their rookie pivot, a reliable veteran arm will be a key ingredient for offensive success. With their revolving carousel of quarterbacks between Collins, Vince Young, and Rusty Smith, the Titans ranked 25th last year in passing yards with 194.2 per game.
At the age of 38, nursemaid is pretty much the only NFL job title Collins has left. We’re sure he’s aware of this, but the last time he pushed along an eager little quarterback it ended with an ill-timed Christmas card, and a pending departure from the great state of Tennessee. Although his accuracy is wildly inconsistent, Collins finished last season with a few games that demonstrated his ability to be a suitable veteran leader. His five starts to close out 2010 included two against Indianapolis in which he threw for a combined 544 yards and five touchdowns.
There are other veteran options set to be out there for the Titans on the free agent like Marc Bulger and Bruce Gradkowski. But in an offseason thin on teaching and chemistry building time, familiarity may be the tonic for success, leading to the somewhat painful conclusion that courting and convincing a gray-haired, often wild Collins is Tennessee’s best option.
Or better yet, we hear Brett Favre has started to throw again.