Remember early in the off-season, before Covid-19, and well before the Titans' 5-0 start what the discussion was regarding the Titans' quarterback situation?
It was the talk of whether to re-sign Ryan Tannehill, who was coming off a career year in 10 starts for the Titans, or going after the so-called “Goat” in 43-year-old Tom Brady.
There was a compelling case to be made for the future Hall of Fame quarterback and six-time Super Bowl winner, who was leaving New England after a 20-year run for a new location.
That seemed to make all the sense in the world, what with Mike Vrabel being his buddy from his playing days with the Patriots, and Jon Robinson and several Titans players having ties to TB12.
But in the end, Robinson and Vrabel decided to do a hard pass on Brady, and recast their lot with Tannehill, believing the 31-year-old quarterback was the right fit at the right time and finally in the right system with Arthur Smith as his offensive coordinator.
Five games into the topsy-turvy 2020 season, it appears as though they have been proven correct. Not that Brady isn't doing some good things in resuscitating the Buccaneers, but there is no doubt that Tannehill and the Titans are exactly the right fit – enough of one that it is not so farfetched to say that Tannehill might even be in the league MVP conversation if he continues to play at his current pace.
His teammates certainly aren't going to tamp down that type of talk, after Tannehill completed 30 of 41 for 364 yards and four touchdown passes in Sunday's OT win over the Texans. In fact, it was his second straight game throwing for four touchdowns, having done so five days earlier in a thrashing of the Buffalo Bills.
Is Ryan Tannehill in the Most Valuable Player talk right now with the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers. His teammates are believing.
“MVP, MVP. Let's start the campaign right now,” said running back Derrick Henry, who has a strong case to be in that conversation as well. “We ain't going to get too high, but MVP, I think he should be that conversation, definitely.”
Through five games now, Tannehill is completing just a tick under 70 percent of his passes and has 13 touchdown passes to just two interceptions. More importantly, though, Tannehill and the offense have now won four games with fourth-quarter and overtime comebacks in those five games. That's what a clutch quarterback does. With the Titans down seven with 1:50 to play, Tannehill was 8 of 9 for 76 yards and a tying score to A.J. Brown.
In overtime, he marched the Titans 82 yards in six plays to set up Henry's game-winner.
Not only that, Tannehill has led this start with the Titans being the only NFL team to date to have a major Covid-19 outbreak that shut their facility down for nearly two weeks.
“I'm proud of our guys we've been through a lot of adversity, a lot of tough situations, and our belief never wavers,” Tannehill said. “Obviously we don't want to put ourselves in that situation, but our belief and confidence in one another never wavers, and it continues to grow the more times you're able to execute in those situations.”
Jadeveon Clowney, who came to the Titans after playing with Deshaun Watson in Houston and Wilson in Seattle, is seeing Tannehill in a similar vein in terms of leadership and performance this season.
“He just goes on the field delivering, man. I think he’ll make every pass on the field if you give him time in the pocket. He’s a leader,” Clowney said. “He’s always in the building early and staying late. You can see that. That comes from wanting to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league, I think. If you keep staying at it – he’s surprising me. I was just telling the boys, 'Man, he keeps getting better and better every week he’s been out here on the field.' It’s good. It’s fun to watch.”