Ryan Tannehill continues to perform well as Titans beat Bills
The NFL has run out of patience with quarterbacks. Not that the league has ever waited this long, but it is moving at high speed now.
The Washington football team dropped out of Dwayne Haskins Jr. a month into his sophomore year after being selected 15th overall in the draft. Everyone seems to be convinced that Daniel Jones, the 2019 New York Giants quarterback, can’t play. Mitchell Trubisky is sidelined before his rookie deal is made, and Sam Darnold could join him.
That’s part of what makes Ryan Tannehill’s story so curious. Two years ago, the Miami Dolphins agreed to a $ 18.4 million salary cap just to get rid of Tannehill. They traded Tannehill and a sixth round pick to the Tennessee Titans for fourth and seventh round picks. Tannehill was 31, had been in the league for seven years, and never did much with the Dolphins. The former first-round pick was heading into the journeyman save phase of his career.
Then Tannehill went on to become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL with the Titans. It’s not supposed to be happening around this time, but Tannehill continues to do so.
Tannehill was excellent again as the Titans moved up to 4-0 with a 42-16 victory over the previously undefeated Buffalo Bills in a game postponed to Tuesday after Tennessee suffered a COVID-19 outbreak.
At some point, we’ll have to accept that Tannehill seems to have completely changed his career arc in his 30s.
Ryan Tannehill makes another great outing
Everyone thought Tannehill was on the verge of regressing after a fantastic 2019 season. Part of that was pretty stat-based, but let’s also be honest: it seemed safe to bet on Tannehill turning into a pumpkin. His career with the Dolphins has seen a few highlights, but not many and certainly not enough to believe in an end-of-career push. When Tannehill secured a four-year, $ 118 million contract last offseason, it wasn’t hard to find criticism of the deal.
Tannehill replaced Marcus Mariota last season and has never looked back. Tannehill posted the fourth-best passer rating in a single season in NFL history last year, at 117.5. The Titans went 7-3 in their starts and advanced to an AFC championship game. Now the Titans are 11-3 in his starts (13-4 if you count the playoffs), and Tannehill is practically reproducing his 2019. Of those 14 starts, Tannehill has 31 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Tannehill has multiple touchdown passes in 10 of his last 11 games.
The Bills are a good team with a well-trained defense, and Tannehill picked Buffalo apart. He started hot with a nice touchdown pass to AJ Brown to give the Titans a 7-0 lead. Tannehill completed 21 of 28 passes for 195 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a good score of 129.3 passers. Tannehill’s only flaw was his clumsy celebration of jumpman LaDainian Tomlinson / Michael Jordan on a touchdown late in the first half, when he awkwardly fell and fell into the end zone.
Tannehill isn’t the first quarterback who took a long time to find the right fit and saw his career blossom long after everyone had given up. Jim Plunkett, Steve Young, and Rich Gannon feature high on this list. Tannehill escaped Adam Gase and the Dolphins, and he’s been a different player ever since. There is no good reason to believe that this cannot continue either.
Impressive Titans in victory over Bills
The Titans didn’t have the best titles for a few weeks. They had an outbreak of COVID-19. They held informal practice sessions after the NFL told them not to assemble. Their Week 4 game has been postponed until later this season, and last weekend’s game has been moved to Tuesday.
The Titans don’t seem to care, and you can silence a lot of the critics by winning. Each of Tennessee’s first three wins came on a late field goal, so there was skepticism about their quality. Beating the Bills, especially with the ease with which it was done after such a long layoff, was impressive.
Malcolm Butler knocked out Josh Allen early, and another interception by Butler and a long comeback in the third quarter resulted in another Tannehill touchdown and a 28-10 lead. Allen had looked like a candidate to be Russell Wilson’s finalist in the NFL MVP race. Maybe Tannehill should be in this conversation instead.
The Titans look playoff worthy again. To make noise in the playoffs, you usually need a good quarterback game. As unlikely as the story is, the Titans seem to have ticked that box.
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