Ryan Tannehill is the Perfect Quarterback for the Tennessee Titans

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Zach Schiller and Aaron Silverstein, Sports Editors

If you haven’t noticed yet, the Tennessee Titans are on fire. Coming off a surprise appearance in last year’s American Football Conference (AFC) Championship, the Titans remain one of three undefeated teams left this season. And while Tennessee has mostly been known for their bruising ground game led by reigning rushing champ Derrick Henry, he is not the only reason for their success. Tennessee Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is not your conventional signal-caller of an undefeated team. However, he is the perfect quarterback for a Titans team that is shaping up to be a true contender this season.

After six mediocre years as the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins, Tannehill was traded to the Tennessee Titans for a mere swap of late-round picks to back up the team’s presumptive starter Marcus Mariota. However, after the team started 1-3, the Titans benched Mariota and turned to Tannehill, who proceeded to guide the Titans to an 8-4 finish in the regular season. However, Tannehill threw for less than 100 yards in the team’s two playoff victories and the team was unable to hang on to a double-digit lead against the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC championship game. Despite this, the team was convinced he was their franchise quarterback, and he received a four-year $118 million extension. Tannehill has rewarded the team’s faith in him thus far by putting up monster numbers to start the season. Through five games, he has accumulated 1,449 total yards of total offense to go along with a 13:2 touchdown to interception ratio. 

Head Coach Mike Vrabel’s football philosophy and Offensive Coordinator Arthur Smith’s play-calling have been the key to Tannehill’s surprising success to start the season. With opposing defenses ultra-focused on trying to contain Henry, Vrabel and Smith have geared the offense to allow Tannehill to thrive in the play-action passing game. Additionally, Tannehill possesses sneaky athleticism which allows him to roll out and make quick throws on the run. The offense the Titans prepared for Tannehill is simple, but it has allowed the veteran QB to be efficient and effective. Big, physical pass-catchers like A.J. Brown and Jonnu Smith have also developed great chemistry with Tannehill, which has made him even more comfortable in the Titans’ offensive system.

People may see Tannehill’s early years in Miami as below average at best, but they may just be the key to the success he is having now later in his career. Tannehill’s extensive NFL experience has led to poised decision making on the field. Tannehill knows that he does not have to do too much and that he must stay within the limitations of the offense which allows Henry to do much of the heavy lifting. He is not making careless mistakes and is not turning the ball over nearly as much as he did as a Dolphin. However, when the defense decides to try everything to lock down Henry and stack the box, Tannehill does have the potential to exploit this and torch the opposition for big passing plays down the field.  This combination of Henry’s dominance and Tannehill’s poise has led to a smart and versatile offense that is currently shredding NFL defenses.

When you think of teams looking to compete for Super Bowls, elite quarterbacks immediately come to mind. Ryan Tannehill may not fit this criteria, but his team is undefeated and his veteran presence and efficient play have the Titans looking like one of the best teams in the league.