Dec
02
2020

Is Ryan Tannehill Elite?

In the NFL, the one position loaded with talent is quarterback. But talent doesn’t always translate to success, Tennessee Titans quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, is far from the most talented at his position. But does his intangibles, success, and consistency, make him one of the league’s best at what he does?

The problem with analyzing Ryan Tannehill is that the Titans are a run-heavy team. This is understandable when your backfield contains last year’s rushing king on pace for back-to-back rushing titles. They often come out with 2 or 3 tight end sets, similar to Jon Gruden’s offense.

Their pass game is most effective when defenses are focused on Derrick Henry, and there are stats to prove that. In 2019, where Tannehill played 12 games, he passed for 2,700 yards, a very respectable amount given his games played. He was 29th in the league in passing yards, but in play-action, Tannehill was 7th in the league in passing yards, with 1100.

This year the trend has continued, with Tannehill leading the play-action charge with 1121 yards as of week 12, putting him in first for the category. Tannehill’s success has come through opponents focusing on the threat of Derrick Henry (understandably so) and playing an older fashioned style of football. The former college wide receiver is by no means a flashy quarterback, but his efficiency and consistency make him one of the best, not to mention most successful, at his position.

The Argument for Ryan Tannehill

The saying “Stats don’t lie” always holds true. Ryan Tannehill epitomizes that. In His 12 starts in 2019, Tannehill posted 2,700 yards, 22 touchdowns to only six picks, with a completion percentage of 63%. Through 12 games in 2020, Tannehill has 2,600 yards, 23 touchdowns to only four picks, and a 63 percent completion percentage. Talk about consistency.

In the run-first Tennessee offense, having consistency is key. Tannehill offers great control over the slow-paced, bruising offense, where Derrick Henry is the headline. When defenses start to put seven or eight defenders in the box to stop the run, the passing game shines. A quarterback who tries to do too much or scrambles would not work well in the same system.

When Marcus Mariota was the starter in 2019, the Titans got off to a very poor start. After Tannehill took the wheel in week 5 of 2019, The Titans offense flourished as Tannehill proved to be a great compliment to Derrick Henry and vise versa. Their success continued throughout the season as the Titans run game and Derrick Henry headlined their success and turnaround, as Ryan Tannehill very quietly had a pro bowl quality season where. The wrecking ball that was the Titan’s offense beat the Baltimore Ravens and ended the era of the Brady-Belicheck Patriots.

Their demise came to the Kansas City Chiefs, who would end up winning the Super Bowl, but left Tennessee fans excited and waiting for what 2020 had to offer. Entering Week 13 of the 2020 season, the Titans hold the three seed in the AFC and are in 1st place in the AFC south. The running game has been unstoppable and Ryan Tannehill is 7th in the NFL in passing touchdowns, and 6th in passer rating out of eligible quarterbacks. With four games left in the regular season, it is the Titans’ division to lose, and Tannehill’s team to lead.

The NFL is loaded with great quarterbacks. Rankings are always disputed, but if I had to put Ryan Tannehill in a group of quarterbacks he is just as good as, if not better than, names like Matt Ryan, Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott, and Josh Allen are all at the same level, if not behind Tannehill.

NBC sports even had him ranked as the 5th best quarterback going into week 13. If Tannehill continues his success his criminally underrated value will soon disappear. Expect the Titans to make another late playoff push if Ryan Tannehill is able to stay healthy, and even at age 32, we still may not have seen the full potential of Ryan Tannehill.