Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill should be the front-runner for Comeback Player of the Year in the NFL in 2019.
Remember when Ryan Tannehill was just the latest failed starting quarterback to be thrown on the trash heap of NFL backups, only to be heard from again sparingly or not at all?
My, how far we’ve come.
Now, thanks to an incredible resurgence with the Tennessee Titans, Tannehill is emerging as potentially one of the most coveted starting quarterbacks on the open market in 2020.
After the Tannehill experiment failed in Miami for many reasons, the Dolphins shipped him over to the Titans, with the two teams also exchanging picks in the deal.
Tennessee then signed him to a one-year deal to become what was thought to be an insurance policy for Marcus Mariota. While there was some debate about who should start the season behind center for the Titans, it was Mariota who would get the nod for the first six weeks.
We didn’t really know what to expect from Tannehill should he ever get the starting job. He had battled injuries throughout his career, and he was coming off a lost 2017 season (knee) and a shoulder injury that hindered him in 2018.
With the Titans in the midst of a shut out loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 6 that sent them spiraling to a 2-4 record, Tennessee finally made the move from Mariota to Tannehill. Despite not scoring any points in that game, it was immediately clear the Titans were getting an upgrade.
Tannehill showed better pocket presence, accuracy and zip on his throws when compared to Mariota. Most importantly, the Titans’ offense looked more competent and only got better in the weeks to come.
In Week 7, the former No. 8 overall pick was named the team’s starter. Since then, Tannehill has gone 5-1, and three of those wins have come via clutch, game-winning drives.
Along the way, he toppled a high-powered Kansas City Chiefs team that nobody expected the Titans to beat in Week 10, and he led his team to a win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 13 that finally exorcised Tennessee’s demons.
The numbers are impressive, also.
After averaging just 16.3 points per game with Mariota behind center, the Titans are now scoring 29.7 points per game with Tannehill. That’s right, the Titans’ offense has looked explosive. When was the last time we could say that?
Tannehill has completed 72.7 percent of his passes for 1,602 yards and 12 touchdowns to four picks, and he sports a passer rating of 113.9 in eight games played (he took two kneel downs in Week 1, and came in during the second half of Week 6).
The Texas A&M product is on pace to post career-highs in completion percentage, passer rating, and yards per completion, and if he had been given a full 16-game slate, Tannehill likely would have surpassed his personal bests in both passing yards and touchdowns, also.
In short, Tannehill has not only revived his own career, but he has saved the Titans’ 2019 season, with Tennessee squarely in the hunt for the division and a wild card spot. Of course, there are still four games to go, but the early returns have been nothing short of fantastic.
When you put it all together and see everything he has had to overcome to get to this point, Ryan Tannehill should be the front-runner for Comeback Player of the Year in the NFL — and the Titans need to do whatever it takes to make sure no team steals him away in 2020.