Steve McNair was the face of the franchise when it first became the Tennessee Titans in 1999, and he was named the NFL’s co-MVP in 2003.
Neil O’Donnell was a fill-in who once led the Steelers to a Super Bowl appearance.
Vince Young was the No. 3 overall pick in the draft and was touted as the team’s next Air McNair.
Kerry Collins guided the Titans to a 13-3 regular season record and once led the N.Y. Giants to the Super Bowl.
Outside of a few starts from Billy Volek – and one forgettable game from Rusty Smith – these are the men who have quarterbacked the Tennessee Titans.
It’s an esteemed group with a combined three Super Bowl appearances, but the best quarterback in Titans history looks to be the guy who is playing right now, Matt Hasselbeck.
In Sunday’s 17-14 victory over the Denver Broncos in Nashville, Hasselbeck played like a seasoned pro with 13 years of NFL experience. He threw with velocity and accuracy. He got the ball out quickly. And he knew right where to attack the defense.
“He’s exactly what we hoped he’d be,” said Titans coach Mike Munchak when asked about Hasselbeck after the game. “He’s a pro and he acts like one on a daily basis, 24/7. The guy’s great in practice, great in meetings and it extends over to the whole team, not just the offense.”
Titans tight end Craig Stevens, who made a 58-yard reception on the game’s winning drive, had a more concise answer. “He’s awesome,” said Stevens of Hasselbeck.
The Titans are off to a 2-1 start thanks largely to the performance of Hasselbeck, who has thrown for over 300 yards in both wins. The team is averaging 300.7 passing yards a game, good for seventh in the NFL.
Hasselbeck is showing command of the offense and the ability to make all the throws. He delivers the ball on time and in spots where his receivers can gain yards after the catch.
His work is even more impressive considering WR Kenny Britt left the game with a knee injury, and you might need to file a missing person’s report to find the Titans running game. RB Chris Johnson has been held to 98 yards – for the season – and is averaging 2.1 yards per carry.
Johnson rushed 13 times for 21 yards against the Broncos, a 1.6 yard-per-carry average. He tied punter Brett Kern for the team lead in rushing yards. Kern gained 21 yards on one fake punt.
After three games, the Titans are dead last in the NFL with 51.6 rushing yards per game.
With no running attack, it was up to Hasselbeck and the passing game to produce a 95-yard, game-winning drive to beat the Broncos. The drive included the 58-yarder to Stevens, and was capped by a four-yard TD to tight end Daniel Graham.
“You know we’ve run that play a bunch in practice and he’s never been open,” said Hasselbeck of Graham’s TD.
Hasselbeck also joked about a 34-yard reception made by Chris Johnson down the left sideline to start the second quarter.
“It was kind of like a playground play, which I like,” said Hasselbeck. “I said why not, you know, he had No. 52 on him and he looked like a big muscle guy so I gave C.J. a chance and it was a great catch on the sideline.”
The Titans travel to Cleveland this Sunday to face the 2-1 Browns, also winners of two straight. The Browns are coming off a 17-16 victory over Miami.
Tennessee will bring the NFL’s top-ranked defense into the matchup. The Titans are allowing a league-best 261 yards per game.