On Monday night, Will Levis stood in the spotlight and showed that he is the new face of the Tennessee Titans.
After a screen pass got away from Levis early in the game for a pick-six, the rookie quarterback was lights out. While the announcers kept talking about getting Derrick Henry going, that never happened.
Not only did Derrick Henry not take the pressure off of Will Levis, but his 2 yards per carry actively hurt the rookie quarterback by putting him in obvious passing situations against a defense with the best cornerback tandem in the NFL and an active pass rush.
In all honesty, this wasn't a great game from the Titans coaching staff offensively. Tim Kelly and Mike Vrabel were clearly scared of the Miami Dolphins defense because their first two drives with runs and passes at or behind the line of scrimmage.
When the Titans finally got the courage to open it up a little bit, Levis hit Chig Okonkwo for a 10-yard pass...before the play callers went back into their shell and called another run-run-pass sequence ending in a sack.
Finally, with 14 minutes left in the second quarter, the Titans put the ball in Will Levis's hands by starting a drive with a play-action pass. Levis then led a touchdown drive that included six passes (including a 22-yard pass where Chris Moore beat Jalen Ramsey) and two QB runs.
The next drive, the Titans again called plays like they were scared and it bit them. With 1:51 left in the second quarter (keep that in mind, it will be important later), Mike Vrabel and company called three straight running plays and got a total of three yards before punting again.
After a good defensive stand, the Tennessee Titans got the ball back at their 21-yard line with 0:28 left on the clock, and they decided THAT was the perfect time to get aggressive. Luckily, Will Levis turned inconsistent/bad coaching into positive results. In just three plays, Levis drove the ball 76 yards down the field and set the Tennessee Titans up for a field goal before the half.
If that is what Levis could do in 28 seconds, imagine what he could have done with 1:51 seconds like they had on the previous drive.
Will Levis and the Tennessee Titans make history
Without reliving the whole game play-by-play, in the second half, the Titans continued to hamstring Levis by attempting (and failing) to get the ground game going. After a muffed return by Eric Garror and a botched pitch from Levis to Henry, the Tennessee Titans were down 14 points with 4:34 seconds to go.
With no choice but to pass it, Mike Vrabel and Tim Kelly reluctantly decided to get aggressive with the passing game. And then the strangest thing happened, the Tennessee Titans did something that had never been done before.
No team had ever come back and won in regulation when they were trailing by 14 points with three minutes or less on the clock. Will Levis changed that by playing perfectly on what was essentially back-to-back two-minute drives.
Over those final two drives Levis was 10 of 13 for 134 yards, a touchdown, and a two-point conversion.
This is the game where the Tennessee Titans coaching staff was reluctantly forced to put faith in Will Levis in an impossible situation, and he made the impossible, possible. It isn't just what he did on the field that won them the game, but his energy on the sidelines as well. If you watched that game you know that Levis had the look of a guy who refused to lose and he didn't care what he had to do to win.
When we look back on this day years from now, this should be the game where Mike Vrabel reevaluated who the Tennessee Titans are and how to win in the NFL. Fewer runs, short passes and screens, and more intermediate and deep passing with guys like Tyjae Spears and Chig Okonwko releasing later in the play as safety valves.
Time will tell if that is what they do, but one thing is certain and that is that Will Levis is the quarterback of the future and even I admit that knowing that is worth falling a few spots in the 2024 NFL Draft.