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Front Page - Friday, November 26, 2021

Titans teammates confident in Tannehill bounceback

Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill had four interceptions Sunday, his worst NFL performance. - Photo by Wade Payne | AP

It was a performance Ryan Tannehill will certainly want to distance himself from as soon as possible.

The normally reliable Titans quarterback suffered through a terrible game Sunday, throwing four interceptions in a 22-13 loss to the lowly Houston Texans.

Those interceptions represented a career worst for the Titans quarterback who had never thrown more than two in a game since joining Tennessee in 2019. Tannehill had five games with three interceptions during his tenure with the Miami Dolphins between 2012-18.

But just because of Sunday’s bad performance – some of his interceptions certainly looked like miscommunications between him and his inexperienced receivers – no one with the Titans is questioning the quarterback, who has resurrected his career since coming to Tennessee.

“My confidence level in Ryan is 100%,” left tackle Taylor Lewan says of Tannehill. “He’s an outstanding quarterback. I think if anybody sits here and doesn’t believe that, then you guys go out there and do it. Tannehill leads this team. He’s done an amazing job. You see what’s happened since he’s been the starting quarterback.’’

Tannehill, as the starting quarterback, accepted full responsibility for his poor play and Sunday’s loss, though in fairness, he didn’t have a lot of help around him. Already missing Derrick Henry and Julio Jones in his weaponry, he lost receivers Marcus Johnson and A.J. Brown during the game. That left him throwing the ball to the likes of Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and rookie Dez Fitzpatrick and, of course, handing off to an aging Adrian Peterson and unheraldeds like D’Onta Foreman and practice squad player Dontrelle Hilliard.

“Obviously it hurts,” Tannehill explains of the injury losses and the unfamiliarity with some of the replacements. “You want to have your guys out there that you’re used to playing with, that you got reps with, but that’s where we’re at in the season.

“It’s been a tough season for us injury-wise, and guys have stepped up and taken advantage of some opportunities, and there’s some things we still have to work through with that. Hopefully, we can get our guys back, and the guys that are just starting to get reps, we can get more reps with them.”

Lewan says he is confident Tannehill will bounce back and handle things just fine as the leader of the Titans offense. He compared Sunday’s struggles for Tannehill to himself allowing three sacks in the season opener against Arizona, a performance that elicited boos from the crowd.

“I think the way he handles this and the way he handles himself on a weekly basis, we should all be appreciative of him to be our quarterback on this franchise. These things happen.

“My week one happened,’’ Lewan continues. “I don’t know on interceptions and stuff, I don’t know what the receivers are supposed to do. I don’t know any of that. I do know that Tannehill is going to take 100% of it like he does, like he probably already did, and he is going to work his (expletive) off this week. He is a stud. I think if anybody thinks differently, you guys don’t know ball.”

Tannehill adds that teammates were supportive despite his struggles.

“They supported me and had my back through everything, but at the end of the day, I expect better of myself and need to be better for this team,” he says.

Safety Kevin Byard agrees, saying Tannehill will bounce back and doesn’t need a pep talk.

“Ryan knows he has the entire team’s confidence. We’ve down this road before. Power rankings don’t matter. If we don’t play well, we’re going to lose. We’re all grown men,” Byard adds. “I don’t think I have to go speak anything to Ryan to motivate him to play better. We’re all grown men. We just have to play better. We’re not going to panic. It is what it is. We took a loss. We’ll have to rally the troops, get healthy and get ready to play the Patriots next week.”

For his part, Tannehill says he is eager to fix what went wrong and get ready for the task of going to New England.

“We have to be able to make the corrections and then turn the page and get ready to go again. Obviously, we’re going to a team that’s playing really good ball right now. It’ll be a good test for us,” he acknowledges.

“I know I’m excited to get back to work. I have a lot of belief in this team and in this offense and what we can do. We’ve just got to stop shooting ourselves in the foot. Whatever, whichever, which way. We did that every which way today, and the good news is that those things are easy to clean up. We’ll clean them up and be ready to go for next week.”