Prior to 2021, I was chugging along on the Ryan Tannehill hype train. I still believed Derrick Henry was the key to Tennessee’s success, but I saw way too many people claiming Tannehill was a bum. He hadn’t done anything to prove he wasn’t able to contend in the AFC. He’d defeated Lamar Jackson and Tom Brady in the playoffs just one year prior and his numbers as Tennessee’s starter were unbelievably good. Now, in the year 2022, my tone has shifted.
While I don’t think Tannehill is a bum by any means, I don’t blame fans for thinking the Titans’ offense is limited with Tannehill under center anymore. Even though the Titans finished as the top seed in the AFC, Tannehill was not good last year, to the point where even I genuinely started to wonder whether or not the team would be better served making a trade for Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson. I wasn’t the only one thinking that. Rumors started popping up that the Titans were in the quarterback market. Yet, through it all, Titans’ GM Jon Robinson made it clear that Tannehill was still “their guy.”
As a stout Tannehill defender, I was skeptical. Anytime a GM or head coach has to publicly state that “(fill in QB’s name here) is our guy”, that’s usually not the case at the same time the following year. Of course, there was the famous “Josh Rosen is our guy” statement by Kliff Kingsbury while all the Kyler Murray rumors were floating around. Wouldn’t you know it, Rosen was not in fact the Cardinals’ “guy.” Robinson even has a history of this. Prior to the 2019 season, he told reporters that Marcus Mariota was the guy...he was replaced midway through their matchup with Denver in Week 6. Now, the same statement is being made about Tannehill?
To make Tannehill’s future even murkier, the Titans have quietly shown up to every big-name quarterbacks’ pro day. Malik Willis?
All. Of. Them.
And the Titans weren’t just sending anyone. They sent offensive coordinator Todd Downing (who might be a bigger reason why Tannehill wasn’t good last year, but that’s beside the point). They sent quarterbacks coach Pat O’Hara. They sent head coach Mike Vrabel. They’re sending the important people to check out these quarterbacks. That’s not a team that’s content with their current “guy.”
I understand that some people have posted their mock drafts anticipating the Titans to take a quarterback at 26 this year, but the odds the Titans draft a quarterback in the first round are still listed at 15-to-1 — the third-lowest odds of any position (tight end: 40-to-1 and running back: 100-to-1). Given everything I’ve said earlier in this article, I find those odds shockingly low. The Titans don’t have a second-round selection and each of the big-name quarterbacks will likely be taken by the third round.
I fully expect Tannehill to be the Titans’ starter Week 1 next season. However, I also expect his leash to be very short, especially if Tennessee drafts a quarterback in the first round; and with each passing day, that’s looking more and more like a possibility.