Ranking the five best Tennessee Titans quarterbacks to grace the two-tone blue since the team became the Titans in 1999.
The NFL is currently in a bit of a dead period in terms of news and action. Teams, including the Tennessee Titans, are going through OTAs. They’re taking things slow and all the news that comes out during this time of year are usually puff pieces about standouts in practices.
While we bring you plenty of notes from Titans OTAs, this period allows us to travel back in time and look at the franchise’s past. First up in a series of the best Titans players at every position are the quarterbacks.
NOTE: These lists will only feature players that played for the team since they became the Titans in 1999.
5. Kerry Collins (2006-2010)
Say what you want about Collins, but he was not all that bad for the Titans. I certainly had my gripes with him, though they were mainly about him playing over Vince Young for too long. Collins was on the back nine of his career when he came to Tennessee, so he was always going to be just a game manager. His fading strong arm didn’t allow him to be the gunslinger he once was, but he still had enough juice to make some game-winning plays.
Collins will most likely be remembered by Titans fans for his solid play during the Titans’ 13-3 season in 2008. He threw for a lowly 2,676 yards and 12 touchdowns that year, but completed 58.3% of his passes and threw just seven interceptions. He guided a dominant run game to the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but ultimately fell short in the playoffs due to a Chris Johnson injury, an Alge Crumpler fumble and JOE FLACCO GETTING AWAY WITH THROWING THE BALL WHEN THE CLOCK EXPIRED (sorry, but it’s true). Collins was a fine quarterback for the Titans for five years.
4. Matt Hasselbeck (2011-2012)
Hasselbeck’s Titans career was short, but it was efficient. At ages 36 and 37 after 10 long years with the Seattle Seahawks, he completed 61.8% of his passes, threw for 4,938 yards and owned a 25:19 touchdown to interception ratio in just 21 games played with the Titans.
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Brought in to be a stopgap as the Titans developed Jake Locker, it turned out that Hasselbeck was actually the better option all along. Unfortunately he struggled with some injuries and the Titans fast-tracked Locker to a starting position during his second season. Hasselbeck was an effective veteran who went 11-10. The Titans could use a guy like him to back up Mariota now.
3. Vince Young (2006-2010)
I’ll defend Young until my death and swear by my grave that Jeff Fisher ruined him and wasted his potential. His stats aren’t world-beating and are slightly inflated by a 9:17 touchdown to interception ratio during the 2007 ratio where he had to carry a poor supporting cast. Even then, he rushed for 395 yards and three touchdowns that season and did enough to get the Titans to the postseason, only to lose in the first round to the San Diego Chargers.
While Young’s 42:42 overall touchdown to interception ratio with the Titans is nothing to brag about, he ran for 1,380 yards and 12 touchdowns with the team and just so happened to own a 30-17 win-loss record. Young wasn’t truly who we expected him to be, but he was fun and exciting and could’ve been even better if he had the right environment and supporting cast.
2. Marcus Mariota (2015-present)
It might be more of an indictment on the Titans’ quarterbacks during the last decade and a half, but it’s still pretty amazing that Mariota already ranks this high on the list. Mariota has lived up the hype of being a No. 2 overall pick, showing off some of the most important quarterback traits throughout his first two seasons.
His marked improvement showed in his second-year statline, as he threw for 26 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. He also added 349 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. The only concern at this stage is his durability. He’s ended the last two seasons on IR, but if he can stay healthy throughout the rest of his career, he’s a good bet to finish first on this list by the time he hangs up his cleats.
1. Steve McNair (1995-2005)
Could it really be anyone else? Air McNair did it all, beginning his career in Houston when the Titans were still the Oilers. McNair was the epitome of Tennessee Titans Football: a hard-nosed warrior who made plays when his team needed them and never quit fighting. McNair’s total stats between the Oilers and Titans are unrivaled. He threw for 27,141 yards, had a 156:103 touchdown to interception ratio with a 59.5% completion percentage and rushed for 3,439 yards and 36 touchdowns. Oh, and he nearly single-handedly won the Titans a Super Bowl in 2000.
McNair was tragically murdered in 2009, but his spirit will forever live on in Nashville and in the aura of Titans football. Mariota looks primed to snatch his spot atop this list in due time, but until then, McNair remains the Titans’ quarterback king.
Honorable Mentions: Jake Locker (injured for too many games and woefully inaccurate); Billy Volek (only played in 10 games); Ryan Fitzpatrick (only played in nine games); Zach Mettenberger (couldn’t win even one game in 10 tries and threw two more interceptions than touchdowns)