Year 2: Legitimacy Established
The next chapter of the Tannehill era in Tennessee would begin on March 15, 2020, a year to the date from when he was acquired by the Titans. Whether or not it was going to be in Nashville, he was going to get a much-deserved payday after his recent performance, and it was indeed the Titans who ponied up.
Tannehill cashed in big time, signing a four-year contract worth $118M ($29.5M per year), with $62M of it fully guaranteed. To make matters better for the team, they and Derrick Henry reached a resolution on a new contract right before the deadline to sign franchise-tagged players.
It was official, the Titans were fully in on their core of players at the time and ready to play for the chance to hoist a Lombardi Trophy. Even though it cost them Jack Conklin, they had brought back the two players who were most responsible for their 2019 turnaround, and their window was now.
And man, would Tannehill and the Titans offense start out the 2020 season with a bang.
They picked up right where they left off to end the 2019 season, starting out 5-0 and looking like legit Super Bowl contenders. The offense was the star of the show, and Tannehill was not simply doing his job, he was dealing out there.
He threw for 3819 yards, 33 touchdowns to just 7 picks, a 106.5 passer rating, and a 65.5 completion percentage. His feet had to be respected as well, as he rushed for 266 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Tannehill was truly fun to watch, as he was throwing passes with precision and toughness in the pocket, while also being very careful with the football. He was not elite and you could say what you would about his limitations, but he was constantly putting the team in situations to win games, and the mix of reliability and timely plays resulted in an admirable performance on his part.
Aside from that, Henry became the eighth player all-time to rush for 2000+ yards in a season, and Tannehill had a bonafide wide receiver duo to help in AJ Brown and Corey Davis. Not to mention a brilliantly designed offensive coordinator in Arthur Smith, and it all resulted in one of the best offenses in Titans history.
They ranked fourth in total points with 491, trailing only the Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They also ranked third in total yards gained with 6343, trailing only the Kanas City Chiefs and Bills.
It was truly a renaissance year for the Titans and their offense, and it led them to their first AFC South title since 2008. They would play host to the Baltimore Ravens in a much-anticipated rematch from last year's playoffs, but unfortunately, it would not go in the Titans' favor.
The offense was simply not the same, as the Ravens managed to bottle up Henry, allowing just 40 yards on his 18 carries. Tannehill was not terrible in that game by any means, but he was far from great, throwing for just 165 yards, one touchdown, one interception at the very end, and posting an 83.0 passer rating.
It was a disappointing exit for the boys in the two-tone blue, but one game did not define them and their season. Unlike last year where you could argue they were just riding significant momentum, they and Tannehill put together a full season of high-level play, and they were to be respected yet again.
Even in a following offseason that was expected to have a significant amount of quarterbacks on the move, Tannehill was staying put, and that was a testament to how well he played in 2020. The Titans were absolutely running it back in 2021, and it would turn out to be with even more hype than they had coming into this one.