Ryan Tannehill says he's not angry about fluke talk, but will play say differently?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Ryan Tannehill is surely booming with confidence after an NFL comeback player of the year season during which he posted Joe Montana-esque numbers, joining the Hall of Famer as the second modern-era quarterback to connect on over 70 percent of his passes while averaging over 9 yards per attempt.

Those numbers are stamped on Tannehill’s 2019 season, when he came off the bench to replace an anemic Marcus Mariota after six games and led the Titans to the AFC Championship Game.


He’s been given a couple of chances to comment on the idea that the season was a fluke or that he and the Titans are being underestimated as they prepare for a follow-up campaign.

Again, on Wednesday’s edition of The Midday 180, he passed on such a chance, parrying any such opinions away as inconsequential.

"No, I don't get angry, I mean everyone is entitled to their own opinion," he said. "I'm just concerned (with) building on what we accomplished last year. Obviously it's a totally new year and last year doesn't matter. So it's a matter of coming out, taking the next step as an offense and taking our level of performance and consistency to another level and taking advantage of every day."

In a league where guys are too often fueled by disrespect -- much of it imagined -- I respect Tannehill’s icy resolve. One of my co-hosts on the show, Chad Withrow, said his big takeaway from the interview was the quarterback’s ability to say he’s unaffected by the significant degree of national conversation rating his big year as a one-off, and suggesting he cannot come close to repeating it.

Withrow thinks, and I agree, that Tannehill has way more fire than he lets on in interview situations.

The guy we’ve seen on the field doesn’t behave like the guy we heard on the radio or that I’ve seen in a few Zoom sessions. That’s not to suggest he’s in any way insincere. Calm, cool and collected off the field is just fine, and it makes for a nice pairing with utterly determined once the ball is kicked off, and hell-bent on finding ways to win. (Not to reopen the Mariota conversation, but we thought that’s what the Titans may have had with him. They did not.)

I really like the exacting way he’s been talking about the offense, and that’s what’s got me most excited about seeing this team on the field again.

Take away a four-week suspension for Taylor Lewan. Substitute a more dynamic Darrynton Evans for Dion Lewis. Insert an A.J. Brown who knows what he can do in the NFL from his first snap. Start the season with Tannehill. Give it all to Arthur Smith who's spent an offseason crafting new wrinkles and coaching guys, even via Zoom meetings, on being more precise.

apple icon 144x144 precomposedThere is certainly a scenario where last year does prove to be a fluke, but I think it's lazy to just conclude it was an anomaly because it was really good and you don't think it'll be really good twice in a row. If it comes undone, something will have to undo it. The things the Titans were doing worked for a reason. Provided good health, virtually all those reasons can come together again. 

That how good teams come to be. They find a way to have a breakthrough season, sustain key elements and build on them. It's hardly preposterous to think the Titans can do that.

There is also a scenario where Tannehill's numbers come back to Earth a bit and the offense is still better over 16 games.

And, well, if we're being thorough: No one saw that 2019 production coming. We have to allow too for the possibility of more.

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