Re-signing Ryan Tannehill was always the best decision at quarterback for the Tennessee Titans, who gave the 2019 Comeback Player of the Year a four-year extension Sunday afternoon.
That was probably the team’s preferred outcome all along, despite their rumored interest in Tom Brady.
While signing Brady certainly would have made a splash around the entire NFL, locking up Tannehill was the move that made the most sense, and that’s the case from more than a continuity standpoint.
Sure, the continuity in the Titans keeping Tannehill is a big deal. He showed great chemistry with his receivers and offensive line in 2019, and that will only improve moving forward.
— Ryan Tannehill (@ryantannehill1) March 15, 2020
But keeping Tannehill was the best decision for the Titans because of his skillset. Tannehill is the ideal quarterback for the type of offense the Titans prefer to run.
Offensive coordinator Arthur Smith rolled out an attack in 2019 that emphasized three main elements: running the football, taking downfield shots off of play-action and getting the quarterback out of the pocket.
Because of Tannehill’s arm strength and athleticism, he is a great fit for that style of play.
His college experience as a wide receiver gives him great footwork, allowing him to thrive in an offense that mostly operates in formations where the quarterback is under center.
His speed allows him to beat defenders to the sideline and get out of the pocket with ease, something that’s necessary to be effective in an offense that frequently utilizes play fakes.
On deep throws in 2019, Tannehill was spectacular. He was sharp and accurate, helping the Titans lead the league in average yards per play during the second half of the season.
What a deal for @ryantannehill1! Tons of guaranteed money for the #Titans QB. Jon Robinson won with the 4 year deal but Tannehill won with the possibility of getting 77% of the $118 million deal guaranteed.
Now on to 👑 Henry!
— Zach Bingham (@Bada_Bingham) March 15, 2020
The Titans’ other options at quarterback in free agency, such as Brady, Philip Rivers and Jameis Winston, simply don’t have the tools to be effective at what the team prefers to do offensively.
There’s a reason the Titans offense skyrocketed in productivity when Tannehill took over as the starter in Week Seven, and it’s not that Smith suddenly figured out how to call plays or that incumbent starter Marcus Mariota was single-handedly keeping the team from reaching the heights they did under Tannehill.
Smith improved and Mariota was, indeed, a semi-dud, but Tannehill’s talent is what elevated the Titans offense to where it finished the season.
So, while keeping Tannehill prevents the Titans from having to teach their playbook to a new starting QB in 2020, that’s far from the primary benefit of the decision.
Cover image: Tommy Gilligan/USA Today