The Tennessee Titans lost Jake Locker for the season yet kept one of the elements that supposedly set him apart from other quarterbacks – his ability to run.
In the eight games he’s played because of Locker’s injuries, Ryan Fitzpatrick has kept the offense moving with his feet when needed.
Together the two have combined for 359 rushing yards, which already is the most by Titans’ quarterbacks since 2007 figures to exceed that number as well. In other words, the franchise has not gotten this much running from that position since Vince Young rolled up 552 rushing yards as a rookie in 2006.
“Usually there’s either a reason I’m running or you’ll find me in space either doing that awkward hard-first dive or whatever it is or picking my spots to slide,” Fitzpatrick said. “That is helpful for us, I think, sometimes in picking up first downs and making the defense stay honest and all that.
“It’s not something I’d prefer to do but it’s something that I think helps us a little bit.”
Fitzpatrick, in fact, has outgained Locker 204 to 155 and his 13 first downs on runs (seven or third or fourth down) are second on the team to running back Chris Johnson. Locker moved the chains nine times (five on third or fourth down) in his seven appearances.
Together they can become the first pair of Titans quarterbacks to top 400 rushing yards in a season since the days of Steve McNair and Neil O'Donnell, and in those days McNair did most of the work. This is the first time two quarterbacks each topped 100 yards in the same season.
RUSHING YARDS, QUARTERBACKS
Titans era (1999-2013)
2013: 359 yards (Fitzpatrick 204, Locker 155)
2012: 329 yards (Locker 291, Hasselbeck 38)
2011: 108 yards (Locker 56, Hasselbeck 52)
2010: 126 yards (Young 125, Collins 1)
2009: 296 yards (Young 281, Collins 15)
2008: 76 yards (Collins 49, Young 27)
2007: 392 yards (Young 395, Collins minus-3)
2006: 552 yards (Young 552)
2005: 181 yards (McNair 139, Mauck 39, Volek 3)
2004: 178 yards (McNair 128, Volek 50)
2003: 141 yards (McNair 138, Volek 4, O’Donnell minus-1)
2002: 437 yards (McNair 440, O’Donnell minus-3)
2001: 442 yards (McNair 414, O’Donnell 28)
2000: 402 yards (McNair 404, O’Donnell minus-2)
1999: 338 yards (McNair 337, O’Donnell 1)
Fitzpatrick’s total this season already has surpassed the 197 yards he gained (on 13 more carries) last season with Buffalo, when he started all 16 contests. He needs 101 to top his career-best 304 set in 2008, when he started 12 games in place of an injured Carson Palmer.
His 26-yard run against Kansas City – his first start for the Titans – was his longest in four years and his three rushing touchdowns already are a career-high.
“I knew he was a good athlete,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “I knew he was a good runner. And he’s done a really good job with it – he has his whole career. I think following in the system that was designed for Jake, it’s kind of been natural for him to run a little bit more.”