Malik Willis has been the biggest surprise of Tennessee Titans OTAs

Dallas Cowboys v Tennessee Titans
Dallas Cowboys v Tennessee Titans / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

Ryan Tannehill is the uncontested starter for the Tennessee Titans, but the battle of the backup quarterbacks is certainly heating up.

Minicamp is over and the Tennessee Titans have all but wrapped up their offseason activities, but the young players and backups are getting their last chance to leave a lasting impression on the coaching staff.

On Wednesday, practice reports were littered with news about Will Levis having an up-and-down day which will get the bulk of the attention. However, there was also plenty of praise for second-year quarterback Malik Willis.

Make no mistake about it, this staff was ready to move on from Malik Willis. Where and how they drafted Levis tells you that they like the rookie, but they don't love him. While this was always going to be Ryan Tannehill's team in 2023, the idea was that an improved coaching staff would be able to do a better job of developing Levis than they had done with Willis.

The smart money is still on Levis to be the starter in 2024, but Willis is doing everything he can to remind them why Jon Robinson and Mike Vrabel felt comfortable drafting the Liberty QB in the previous draft.

Over the last month, Willis has gone from a potential cut candidate to someone who could be the primary backup for the Tennessee Titans this year.

Is the glass half-full or half-empty for Tennessee Titans fans?

There are two ways to look at this if you are a Tennessee Titans fan.

Pessimistically, you could look at this situation and see it as a failure from Will Levis to come in and secure the backup quarterback spot from a player that Titans fans (and coaches) had already written off.

Based on what we saw from Willis in 2022, it is hard to argue that his season was anything other than an abject failure. There wasn't any progress to speak of and whether it was the preseason or Week 15, he still looked like a guy struggling to process things quickly and when he did find the right read his passes weren't always on target.

Maybe worst of all, he didn't seem to have the athleticism that made him so effective in college, and without any athletic testing numbers to fall back on, it was fair to wonder how much of that was because of the talent he played against and not the talent he had.

If you want to look at it like an optimist, you could say that this was always the plan for Willis because...well, it was.

In a perfect world, he wouldn't have seen the field at all in 2022, and it is easy to imagine that the collection of failures on the offensive coaching staff didn't do enough to get him prepared for his opportunities.

Even though he looked completely overwhelmed on the field, a lot of that likely had to do with a lack of chemistry with his offensive weapons, a poor and injured offensive line, and an offensive game plan that looked the exact same each week.

After a year of being in the NFL, Willis could be catching up to speed. With a new OC running a more QB-friendly offense, maybe Willis is finally starting to develop and show the flashes that he didn't show in 2022.

At the end of the day, having two talented, young quarterbacks would be a dream for the Tennessee Titans. Both can enjoy another year in the NFL and continue to mature and develop and then this battle can be revisited in 2024.