Tennessee Titans fans shouldn’t be excited about life after Ryan Tannehill

Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean)
Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean) /

It is hard to win football games in the NFL, and the Tennessee Titans don’t do themselves any favors by playing with an outdated mindset.

If this is Ryan Tannehill’s last season with the Tennessee Titans, don’t expect a new quarterback to come in and set the world on fire. No matter how good he is, Mike Vrabel is going to insist on an offense that leans heavily on the run.

Even if Mike Vrabel goes out and hires Kliff Kingsbury to be the next OC, Vrabel has spoken time and time again about how running the ball is the way to win football games.

Similarly, whether the next quarterback is Malik Willis, Derek Carr, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or anyone else, don’t expect them to impress Vrabel enough to change his ways.

How do we know that? Well, look at how well Ryan Tannehill is doing this year.

Tennessee Titans fans shouldn’t expect better than this

What started out as a very sad graphic about Malik Willis’s start, turned into the Ryan Tannehill appreciation tweet below:

Even in Todd Downing’s offense that doesn’t feature the number of play-action passes that it should, Ryan Tannehill has been very efficient as a passer. Despite taking shots from whoever Dennis Daley is blocking this week, Tannehill has continued to move the ball well and even that hasn’t been enough for an increased emphasis on the passing game.

Now, there have been extenuating circumstances over the last two years with the Tennessee Titans’ injuries. However, even when the team has been healthy Mike Vrabel has insisted on running the ball at a high clip.

Here is how the Tennessee Titans have finished in pass attempts in each year where Mike Vrabel has been the HC:

2018: 31st

2019: 31st

2020: 30th

2021: 25th

2022: 30th (currently)

Remember, this doesn’t have anything to do with Derrick Henry. In Mike Vrabel’s first year as the Titans coach, he used Henry as part of a committee. It wasn’t until 2019 that Henry truly started to carry the load.

Then look at 2021, Derrick Henry missed more than half of the games and the Tennessee Titans still finished bottom-10 in pass attempts.

As Derrick Henry gets older and as the Titans get further away from the offensive system that suited them best in 2020, this run-first mentality is going to get harder and harder for the team to overcome.

Instead of building an offense around what Malik Willis does well, the team is going to continue to try to put square pegs in round holes. If that happens, any chance of developing Malik Willis will go down the drain and the Titans will be forced to tear everything down despite a roster that has a lot of talented young players.