After a down year in 2021 and a disappointing performance in the Tennessee Titans playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in January, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been on the hot seat with Titans fans.
Tannehill’s play down the stretch of the 2021 season not only ended the Titans chances to win their first Super Bowl in franchise history, but left Titans fans wondering if the man under center would ever be the right man to take them there.
The offseason certainly didn’t help.
The Titans drafted quarterback Malik Willis from Liberty as an assumed successor for Tannehill, and Tannehill’s comments about Willis (although blown out of proportion) left some fans and national media members questioning his leadership ability.
Things have begun to spiral, where it now feels as if Tannehill is in a “do or die” season, and one of the most high pressure spots of any NFL QB in 2022. Many in the Titans or NFL world are rooting for and/or expecting his failure.
It’s time to debunk that.
I’ve been a member of Tannehill’s metaphorical defense team all offseason. I’m fully subscribed to the narrative that Tannehill has not gotten a fair shake. I wrote on him being a better leader than most give him credit for, and even tagged him as the “most underrated player” on the Titans roster heading into 2022.
I fully believe he has everything it takes to lead Tennessee to their first Lombari Trophy in the coming years, and I’ve compiled a group my favorite statistics that prove how capable Ryan Tannehill really is, and how under appreciated he is by the rest of the NFL world.
1. Pocket Pressure
Pressure responsibility splits for the Titans— James Foster (@NoFlagsFilm) May 15, 2022
QB – 3.8%
LT – 23.0%
LG – 23.0%
C – 14.2%
RG – 21.9%
RT – 25.1%
TE – 6.6%
OTH – 5.5%
You can’t talk about Ryan Tannehill or the Titans 2021 offense without bringing up the lack of quarterback protection around him.
Some quarterbacks struggle with progressions and cause a lot of heat for themselves. Tannehill is not one of those guys. For much of the 2021 season, it seemed as if he succeeded in spite of the lack of protection at times, and used his mobility to escape and create plays without much help:
Ryan Tannehill – Under Pressure pic.twitter.com/oaFrjUwT42— James Foster (@NoFlagsFilm) July 15, 2022
Most sacked QBs in 2021 ⤵️— FantasyPros (@FantasyPros) May 21, 2022
Joe Burrow – 51
Ryan Tannehill – 47
Zach Wilson – 44
Baker Mayfield – 43
Derek Carr – 40
Matt Ryan – 40 pic.twitter.com/pM6CxZLhFS
There’s a direct correlation between Tannehill’s lack of protection/time in the pocket, and his decreased production on the field. Quarterbacks are better when they’re comfortable — That’s a fundamental concept of football.
If given the same luxury of protection afforded to the quarterbacks in Tampa, Los Angeles, or San Francisco, I’d predict Tannehill’s numbers to be consistently near that of his 2020 season.
Pound for pound, statistics also show Tannehill to be one of the most accurate QBs in the entire NFL.
According to advanced analytics, Tannehill was in the top five in on-target throw percentage (per SIS), and was rated as the second best QB in the league when it came to fitting ball in tight windows.
2021 On Target Throw % per @SportsInfo_SIS— James Foster (@NoFlagsFilm) May 13, 2022
1. Joe Burrow (82.6%)
2. Kyler Murray (80.9%)
3. Kirk Cousins (79.3%)
4. Justin Herbert (79.2%)
5. Ryan Tannehill (79.0%)
Highest accurate pass percentage throwing into tight windows.. (PFF)— Adam Carter (@SmartfootbalI) April 20, 2022
1. Justin Herbert, 35.2%
2. Ryan Tannehill, 32.9%
3. Kyler Murray, 32.4%
4. Zach Wilson, 32.1%
5. Joe Burrow, 31.6%
I don’t have much else to say about this one. The numbers speak for themselves.
Over the last three seasons (since Tannehill joined the Titans), only two quarterbacks in the NFL have both an above .667 win percentage and above a 66.7% completion percentage:
Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, and yep…Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee.
3. WR Separation
Not only was Tannehill lacking support from his offensive line up front, a recently released stat shows how difficult the Titans wide receivers made his job, as well.
Tennessee Titans receivers got the least average separation of any team in the NFL. Ryan Tannehill was consistently throwing into the smallest windows of any quarterback. Now, he’s expected to succeed without AJ Brown at his disposal.
Your starting quarterback was one of the most pressured quarterbacks in the league, throwing into the smallest windows of any quarterback in the league, while simultaneously being one of the most accurate…
This is starting to feel like much less of a Tannehill issue, isn’t it?
Tannehill is far from perfect, but given all this information, and him being just one year removed from being in the MVP discussion, I would think twice before moving on in the QB carousel.
It’d be nice if he didn’t have a $38.6 Million cap hit to go along with him, but after this make or break 2022 season, I’d think long and hard about pushing him out the door and what it would mean for the Titans future.
As long as Derrick Henry is dominant and the Titans defense is among the best in the NFL, you have to assume the championship window is open in Tennessee. I still believe in Tannehill as the leader to get them there.
The Titans just need enough surrounding him.
Image via George Walker IV / Tennessean.com-USA TODAY NETWORK