Three years ago, Chris Palmer — Tennessee’s new offensive coordinator under coach Mike Munchak — coached Eli Manning with the Giants, 2007 through 2009. When Palmer arrived, Manning had completed three seasons in the NFL, with a completion percentage of just 54.0. In camp, Palmer set up flags at different distances and had Manning throw quickly to try to hit the flags, and maybe it was play-calling, maybe it was simple NFL maturations, and maybe a little bit was the flags, but in Palmer’s Three years with Manning, his completion rate rose from 56.1 in 2007 to 60.3 and 62.3 the following two years.
Titans rookie quarterback Jake Locker never completed more than 58.2 percent of his throws in four college seasons and that’s probably the biggest reason so many teams graded him down on their boards, but as Peter King of Sports Illustrated said last week, this was a beauty-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder draft, and Tennessee GM Mike Reinfeldt loved Locker.
“It became evident to us as we did our research that Locker was a special guy,” Reinfeldt told me. “His production, leadership and football instincts were very high, and we felt he had a chance to be a special player.” King asked Reinfeldt how a quarterback who was a 54-percent passer in college could be fixed in the NFL. The perception, of course, is that accuracy is usually difficult to improve, particularly when the pass-rush and secondary are better at the next level. “I think there are things you can do to improve,” he said.
“That’s one of the things we studied. Jay Cutler went from 57 in college to 61 [percent completion]. Brett Favre went from 53 to 63; Mark Brunell from 52 to 59. So we think we can improve Jake there.”