Reflecting on the Ryan Tannehill Era for the Tennessee Titans

Ryan Tannehill #17 Tennessee Titans
Ryan Tannehill #17 Tennessee Titans / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages
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Ryan Tannehill #17 Tennessee Titans
Ryan Tannehill #17 Tennessee Titans / Silas Walker/GettyImages

Year 1: Hope Galvanized

Tannehill's time in Tennessee officially started on March 15, 2019, when the Miami Dolphins traded him along with a sixth-round pick for fourth and seventh-round picks. Tannehill and the Titans both were in eerily similar situations to where the team has been from March of this year until now.

The Dolphins were looking to go in a different team direction and wanted to move on from him, while the Titans had a quarterback issue of their own and were looking to provide competition. Tannehill would not be the starter going into the season, but Marcus Mariota would be on thin ice, and if he did not start well he would be replaced.

Lo and behold, that is exactly what would happen. The date was October 13, 2019, when Tannehill would see his first real action for the Titans, as Mariota was benched during a 16-0 loss to the Denver Broncos that put them at 2-4.

Mariota would go 7/18 for 63 yards and two interceptions, accompanied by an utterly atrocious 9.5 passer rating. It was just time to see what they had in Tannehill, and while the overall game would not end any better, he did alright, going 13/16 for 144 yards while unfortunately throwing a pick, ending with a 78.1 passer rating.

While Tannehill himself was far from perfect, the choice was clear, he had to be the starter heading into the next game. That is exactly what would happen, and to say it was a change for the better would be an understatement.

It would take a little bit to materialize, but the Titans not only turned around their offense, they flipped the script on their entire season. With him at the helm, the offense went from averaging a measly 17.5 points a game to an impressive 30.4 per contest.

Tannehill's individual numbers were borderline unbelievable, as in 12 games (10.5 for all intents and purposes), he recorded 2742 yards, 22 touchdowns to 6 interceptions, 4 rushing touchdowns, a 117.5 passer rating, and a 70.3 completion percentage.

His performance earned him AP Comeback Player of the Year, and the Titans would go an impressive 7-3 in the games he started. They went from 2-4 to 9-7 and while they had to fight for it until the end, they would end up making the playoffs as the final wildcard team in the AFC, and that is where the real magic would take place.

The Titans would ride the momentum into the postseason and advance all the way to the AFC Championship. During that run they would essentially end the dynasty of the New England Patriots, as well as stunningly dominating the top-seeded Baltimore Ravens and unanimous MVP Lamar Jackson.

Many will give the credit for that playoff run to Derrick Henry, and while he certainly did most of the heavy lifting, Tannehill was not without his contributions. He would throw some critical touchdown passes, passing for five of them altogether, throwing only one interception, rushing for a touchdown, and posting a 98.5 passer rating.

The impressive stretch would, unfortunately, be halted at the AFC Championship by the eventual Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs, but what was more important was that the Titans had legitimate reason to be excited for the future. That was pending a few key and looming decisions.

The Titans had some major free agents heading into the offseason and were just not going to be able to keep everyone. Two of the three major names on offense were Derrick Henry, and Tannehill himself.

Tannehill and the Titans looked at the time like they were building something special, but none of that was going to matter if they could not agree on a new contract. Luckily for both parties, what was seen up to that point was just the beginning.