Texans face Tannehill in Sunday’s game against Titans. Here’s a look at the player.

TANNEHILL LEADS TITANS

“When they first signed him, I knew that if he got the chance, he would be the guy eventually.”- Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph

It’s always interesting to hear candid opinions from NFL players, especially a veteran like Johnathan Joseph. Joseph has a ton of experience playing against Titans backup Marcus Mariota, and a bit of experience against the Dolphins version of Tannehill. Drawing from that, he thought Tannehill could outplay Mariota and get the Titans job. To me, that’s fascinating.

QB NATURE VS. NURTURE

The mechanics and machinations of quarterbacks and their environment are multi-million dollar questions around each of the cities in the league. Why do some quarterbacks succeed despite obvious deficiencies, while other fail despite obvious talents?

A quarterback like Lamar Jackson pushes the boundaries of the nature or nurture debate because he’s the first quarterback to have a college-style offense purely built around his talents. Was Lamar Jackson always going to be good, even if he had to fit into a system that didn’t display his strengths? No one knows.

TANNEHILL’S DOLPHIN HISTORY VS. TITANS SUCCESS

This is where the Titans and Tannehill come in. Tannehill spent 7 years in Miami, none of them particularly impressive. He was a first round pick, started for a long time, made some money but ultimately not much to show for it. Tannehill was by all accounts and purposes, kind of a bust. His current 6-1 run as the Titans quarterback is not “caretaker QB inherits talented team and doesn’t screw it up.” The Titans are winning *because* of what Tannehill can do, specifically out of the play action.

The Titans are not a throw-first team like the Chiefs or Chargers, or even this year’s version of the Patriots. Star running back Derrick Henry is the most important player on the offense and has been dominant for much of the season - he’s 2nd in the league in rushing. But Marcus Mariota also had Henry, and sputtered to a 2-4 start. The Titans offense looked atrocious early in the season. Since then, with Tannehill, the Titans offense is humming. Wide receivers like rookie A.J. Brown and former first round pick Corey Davis are showing flashes of the talent that got them drafted high, all due to an impressive run from Tannehill.

Could Tannehill’s success be due to a change of scenery, better weapons and an offensive system that he understands how to execute better? Maybe. But that begs the question of who failed whom in Miami. Did the Dolphins lock up Tannehill’s strenghs, or was he simply not a very good quarterback? QBs don’t succeed overnight, and Tannehill’s emergence has reason behind it. Either way, his 6-1 run has put the Titans in an advantagous position for the AFC South.

AFC SOUTH RACE

They enter a must-win game as a 3-point favorite against the Houston Texans. A big reason they’re favorites - it’s a home game. The Titans are 4-0 at Nissan Stadium when Tannehill starts. A half-season isn’t a big enough sample size to determine if Tannehill is as good as his recent numbers suggest. A half-season sample size IS enough to determine that the Texans are in real danger of losing the division to a re-energized Titans team.


About the Author:

Murrow and Emmy award-winning sports anchor & reporter. Avid traveler, mediocre golfer. Loves good food, good friends and southern rap.