Ryan Tannehill’s shiny new 118 million dollar contract will keep him in an offense where he can thrive– while giving the Titans the exact player they need to make a Super Bowl run.
Ryan Tannehill came into the 2020 NFL offseason a star– a sought after free agent at football’s most important position, with multiple rosters looking to make Super Bowl runs reportedly seeking his talents.
The Tennessee Titans were a team that went into the 2020 NFL offseason, surprisingly enough, looking to make a few ‘win-now’ type moves at key free agent positions after a sneaky postseason run ended just short of the ultimate goal.
The situation was unique for both Tannehill and Titans before the start of the 2019 season.
Tannehill’s first six years in the NFL before joining Tennessee never held so much as a Pro Bowl, let alone a season strong enough for the quarterback to earn the status of ‘prized free-agent signing.’ As for the Titans, their 2-4 start to the season had many fans ready to start over with Joe Burrow in charge of the offense (Burrow being a mid-round projection in late October) rather than chasing a Super Bowl window.
Both parties found themselves in uncharted waters, and with a new set of problems to solve. The Titans needed to find the best player available at quarterback to maximize their championship window, while Tannehill needed to find a situation where he could thrive as a player to avoid reverting back to the quarterback he was with the Miami Dolphins while getting paid along the way. Both parties found the answers to their problems.
With Tennessee drawing up a new contract for Tannehill to the tune of 118 million dollars over four years, the Titans were able to find their ideal player, while Tannehill was able to find his ideal situation.
The quarterback will be getting paid handsomely, much more so than he ever would have if he wasn’t traded out of Miami, to play in a system tailor-made to his strengths. Even dating back to his days as the Dolphins quarterback, Tannehill put together his best individual seasons in offenses that leaned heavily on play-action. In Tennessee, the Titans assembled one of the most play-action reliant offenses in the NFL. Both to Tannehill’s, and the team’s benefit.
Of course, a play-action offense is always helped when you have an elite running mate in the backfield with you like Derrick Henry. The strong reliance on the running game often attracted the attention of opposing defenses playing the Titans, leading to a lot of stacked boxes and minimal secondary help. But Tannehill showed time and time again the rare, pinpoint accuracy needed to take advantage of those play-action advantages.
Even if some slight regression is on the way on Tannehill, he will be taking a small step back from being the third most accurate quarterback in the NFL with a league-leading 9.6 yards per attempt. Those are the numbers the newly-resigned Titans quarterback was able to put up with just 10 regular-season games of starting experience in Tennessee’s offense, and it stands to reason he can do it again.
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Tannehill’s accuracy and athleticism, along with the Titans scheme fit and roster talent make Tennessee an ideal destination for the seventh-year player. But those benefits are not a one-way street. For as much as the Titans are perfect for what Tannehill needs, Tannehill is perfect for what the Titans need.
The Tennessee roster is young, and the coaching staff isn’t without their own set of question marks, but after making an AFC Championship, this is a roster that is no doubt ready to take advantage of their championship window. Tannehill might be the best available option for the Titans to hit that window.
With the rumors of Tom Brady joining the Titans still fresh in everyone’s mind, it’s important to remember, Brady would not be a guarantee. He’ll be 43 when the season starts, has shown nearly half a decade of statistical regression, and hasn’t been required to learn a new offense on a new team once in his 20-year playing career.
Tannehill, on the other hand, has proven he can win big games on and away from the playoff stage in Tennessee. He’s proven he can thrive in Arthur Smith’s play-action heavy offense. And he’s proven he has chemistry with the Titans young stable of talented pass-catchers, helping propel receiver AJ Brown to a 1,000-yard rookie year.
The Titans just got done showing the world that they can win. What they needed going into next season was consistency, and they locked that up for four years with Tannehill. For as successful as this pairing was in 2019, their connection made too much sense to not get a sequel. Now all that’s left is to take the next step.