Tannethrill out the gate
One of, if not, the biggest reason that Titans fans everywhere should be optimistic about their teams 2020 potential will be the return of Pro Bowl quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Unlike last season, Tannehill will start the season as the unquestioned starter and will be able to lead the team out the gate as opposed to being thrown into the fire at 2-4 and asked to save a sinking ship.
Last season the pro bowl quarterback took over a team that was all but dead and helped lead a drastic turnaround that landed the team in the AFC Championship game, all while putting up one of the best individual statistical seasons for a quarterback in Titans history.
In 10 starts, Tannehill threw for 2,742 yards, 22 touchdowns, six interceptions, and completed over 70 percent of his passes. In that time, the Titans went from an obvious sub .500 football team to legitimate contenders in the blink of an eye.
The Titans ended the regular season by winning seven of their final 10 games and found a way to squeeze into the playoffs despite the 2-4 start and eventually finished 9-4 after two impressive playoff wins over New England and Baltimore.
If you didn’t know anything about the former Dolphins signal-caller prior to coming to Nashville, you would think this guy is a slam dunk franchise quarterback after what he consistently did in Tennessee’s system last season.
Unfortunately for the Titans’ quarterback, there is a reputation of mediocrity that he developed during the latter portion of his time in Miami that he couldn’t seem to shake with some people regardless of how well he played in 2019.
The national narrative on Tannehill is that he was paid $118 million just to hand the ball off and that he was just simply along for the ride that Derrick Henry solely took the Titans on that eventually had them one win from the Super Bowl.
That narrative couldn’t be further from the truth and is downright disrespectful to the 2019 AP Comeback player of the year — An award people clearly think Derrick Henry must have won for him as well.
In reality, the passing and rushing attack fed off each other. For the first time in Tannehill’s career, he had an elite rushing attack behind him, a competent offensive line protecting him up front, and legitimate weapons out wide.
The Titans’ quarterback often took advantage of the opposing defenses fear of superstar running back Derrick Henry, which would inevitably open up the passing lanes for the entire offense to exploit. The balanced attack from both Tannehill and Henry often had defenses on their heels, and defensive coordinators scratching their heads as they tried to figure out ways to slow down this suddenly extremely potent offense.
The Texas A&M product finished the season with an absurd passer rating of 140.6 when running play action, the best in the NFL.
In fact, last season Tannehill went on to have career-highs in completion percentage (70.3), touchdown percentage (7.7), yards per attempt (9.6), and quarterback rating (117.5), among other impressive individual numbers.
The offense as a whole was able to excel with Tannehill under center, going from a lifeless offense that averaged 11 points per game (Weeks 2-6) to an explosive, two-dimensional balanced attack that averaged 30.4 points per game the rest of the way.
Something I believe that doesn’t get talked about enough in regards to the 2020 season: If Ryan Tannehill is able to come close to duplicating the individual production he had last season from the start, combined with the inevitable team success that comes with it, he will at the very least be in the MVP conversation at the end of the year.
Barring any type of catastrophic injury, Ryan Tannehill is on the cusp of pulling off the best career resurrection story on a new team since Drew Brees did it in New Orleans. But in order for him to do that, he will need to consistently ball out for the foreseeable future and help bring team success in the form of playoff appearances, division titles and/or championship banners.
Last year was just the first chapter of Tannehill’s redemption story, and something tells me the best chapters are still to come.