General Managing an NFL team is just a gamble. If you want an example, look at the Tennessee Titans’ situation with Ryan Tannehill and Marcus Mariota. You spend years grooming one guy to be the guy, then some random guy you traded for takes over and becomes the superstar.
The Titans waited for years for Marcus Mariota to do what Ryan Tannehill did in just half a season. But, I am not writing this to bash Mariota. I am writing this to prove why Tannehill will continue to be successful with Tennessee in 2020, despite what the critics say.
There are about two common arguments when it comes to Tannehill in the “he was a fluke” conversation. One of them is that he was “bad” in Miami. I can shut down that take with one sentence: Tannehill wasn’t bad, the Dolphins were.
The other one is that Tannehill isn’t a quarterback you can trust as a starter, for reasons such as his injury history and his resume with Miami. That’s fair, but let me tell you why his resume in Miami proves that he is the right guy for the Tennessee Titans.
Tannehill had six seasons with 2,000+ passing yards in his seven seasons there. Four of those were 3,000 or more yards. If he had played a full season with Tennessee in 2019, he would have shattered the 3,000 yard mark, as he finished with 2,742 yards in regular season play.
Those passing yard numbers are great, but when I dove a little deeper I discovered his numbers weren’t exactly flattering unless he had a good supporting cast around him. We can dive into when Tannehill’s career started to blossom in 2014-16 to see what I mean.
In 2014, he had a 1,000 yard rusher in Lamar Miller, and he had wide receiver Mike Wallace who had 862 receiving yards, and both Jarvis Landry, and tight end Charles Clay had north of 500 yards. Not flattering receiving stats, but he had himself a decent supporting cast around him. That season, Tannehill had his career best in touchdowns with 27.
In 2015, Tannehill saw Jarvis Landry explode onto the scene with 1,157 yards, which helped Tannehill have his career-best in passing yards with 4,208. Then in 2016, Tannehill finally had a running back and wide receiver duo to both have 1,000 yards in the same season. That was Jay Ajayi with 1,272 yards, and Jarvis Landry with 1,136 yards.
That season, Tannehill’s accomplishments were quite similar to his 2019 accomplishments with the Titans: career-best record at 8-5, career-best completion percentage at 67.1. Both of which mirrors his career-bests with Tennessee, where he went 7-3 as a starter and had a completion percentage of 70.3 when he had a dominant RB-WR duo of Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown last season.
Tannehill, unfortunately, did not play in 2017 after injuring his knee during camp and required season-ending surgery. He did not get to play a second season with his dynamic duo of Landry and Ajayi. By the time Tannehill was back and ready to play in 2018, Landry was traded to Cleveland and Ajayi was no longer on the team.
Tannehill put together a great season with the Tennessee Titans after coming in for Mariota halfway throughout the season, and thrived with a good supporting cast quite similar to that of Landry and Ajayi. He posted a career-best in completion percentage and record as starting quarterback. The difference now is Tannehill is returning the following season with that same supporting cast.
Hopefully the Titans don’t suffer the same fate the Dolphins did when Tannehill went down during camp. Because, I truly believe 2019 was Tannehill continuing where he left off when his career was on an upward trend from 2014-2016 before an injury derailed it right before the 2017 season.
So, to the doubters, you’re right. Ryan Tannehill is not a quarterback you want to trust, but that’s true if it’s a pass-happy offense that relies a lot on the quarterback. The Tennessee Titans’ run-first approach is perfect for Ryan Tannehill, and for the first time, he’s returning with the same supporting cast that helped him be successful, and they will thrive much like they did in 2019.
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