Throughout the offseason, I will be running through a series of Q&As with our fellow SB Nation blogs across the AFC, checking up on the state of affairs for the Jets’ conference rivals.
1. Ryan Tannehill put up some outstanding numbers after taking over the starting job. How much of that incredible production was his own doing, and how much of it was a credit to his supporting cast? What made Tannehill such a fantastic fit in that offense - and why did things click so much better with him versus Marcus Mariota?
Hello Michael, thanks for allowing me to write on behalf of MCM. I’m glad to give some Titans perspective on the 2019 season.
Ryan Tannehill deserves a great deal of credit for his own production.While most of the country saw Derrick Henry dominated offense in the playoffs, the regular season was equal parts Tannehill and Henry. Theplay action opened up things for Tannehill downfield and Tannehill’s precise passing opened things up for Derrick Henry.
I would say what made Tannehill a good fit for the offense was his ability to fit the ball into tight windows, attack defenses downfield,and also the confidence he had in what he was seeing from the defense.Marcus struggled with all three of those things in his 6 games starting for the Titans this year and it resulted in his time with the Titans coming to an end.
2. How likely is it that Tennessee locks up Tannehill, and what type of deal do you envision him getting? If he gets the chance to run it back with the infrastructure in Nashville that propped him up to elite status in 2019, where would you rank him among starting quarterbacks going into 2020?
I think it is extremely likely that the Titans re-sign Ryan Tannehill. On a scale of 1-10, I’d give it a 9. I think both the player and team know that they are most valuable to each other. I think he gets a 4-5 year deal maybe at $25-ish million a year, structured in a way that gives the Titans the ability to move on after just a couple years if they should choose to do so.
As far as the “should they” portion of the question, I think the answer is “absolutely”. The Titans have been searching for a QB to put up consistent performances like Tannehill did for quite a while, and while he’s not perfect, he’s the hero they need. Going into 2020, I feel comfortable ranking him in the top 9, which seems crazy, but until he turns into a pumpkin, he’s earned that kind of respect.
3. Derrick Henry had an unreal 2019 season. Is it a lock that he receives a lucrative new deal with the Titans? If so, do you think he will be worth the investment considering his mileage and lack of pass-game value?
Similar to the situation with Tannehill, I think the player and team understand that they need each other. Derrick Henry is a semi-limited running back, due to his lack of pass game value (although I think that aspect of his game is maybe overstated), but he’s really good at running the football. Like really good. I think it is almost a certainty he’s back with the Titans (9.9/10 chance it happens) and he’ll be worth it. They do need to find a viable backup to help take some of the load off him.
4. Certainly, Henry could not have had the season he did without help from the men up front. How good was the Titans’ offensive line in 2019, both in the pass and run game? There are three players in particular I’m curious about. Jack Conklin - how do you see the team handling him as he heads into free agency? Rodger Saffold - did he live up to his contract? Nate Davis - I thought he looked promising in the playoffs, how would you summarize his rookie season and potential going forward?
I think the offensive line got better as the season progressed. They were helped by the play of Tannehill and Henry late in the year, and were definitely hurt by the inability of Marcus Mariota to get rid of the ball early on. After Taylor Lewan returned from suspension and Nate Davis became the full time starter, they slowly gelled and became a solid unit. I think the Titans would be served to sign Jack Conklin to a long term extension. Having to search for a RT this offseason isn’t something the Titans should put themselves in a position to do needlessly and he’s definitely an above average player. I am not confident at all in the Titans re-signing him, however (5/10).
Rodger Saffold struggled early on, and he struggled mightily, but as the season went on, he became at worst, the 2nd best lineman on the team and worth every penny Jon Robinson spent on him.
Nate Davis was okay this year. I wouldn’t say he was terrific, but rarely are rookie offensive linemen great. I expect him to be the starting RG in 2020 and hopefully he takes a step forward in his run blocking, and a big leap forward in his pass protection.
5. Logan Ryan is headed for free agency following a season in which he made a ton of big plays but also yielded a lot of production in coverage. What kind of impact did he make on the Tennessee defense over the past three years, and where do you see him ending up in 2020?
There are not enough good things I can say about Logan Ryan. He was the MVP of the defense this past year, in my opinion and he helped establish a really positive locker room culture here in Tennessee. He’s an extremely cerebral player and I think he’d be a great coach once his playing days are over. I do not see him being back with the Titans, as they have Tannehill and Henry to re-sign and need to spend on a premier pass rusher and potentially a Jack Conklin replacement.
6. If you could add one offensive and one defensive player from anypoint in Jets history to the current iteration of the Titans, whowould you choose?
This is a fascinating question. From the defensive side, I think Mark Gastineau would be a great fit on this Titans team. Revis was tempting, but Malcolm Butler and Adoree Jackson are good corners, whereas Gastineau would be replacing Cam Wake/Kamalei Correa and play across from Harold Landry to make a dynamic pass rushing duo. From the offense, I’m taking Nick Mangold. An elite center would take this offense up a notch and allow Ben Jones to get kicked over to RG, creating a truly great offensive line with Lewan, Saffold, Mangold, Jones, and Conklin from left to right.