Last year in Arthur Smith’s first year as offensive coordinator, the Tennessee Titans offense exploded when Ryan Tannehill took over as the starting quarterback.
The Titans went from 2-4 to finish 9-7, and reached the AFC Championship Game as a six seed in the playoffs.
Tannehill completed better than 70 percent of his throws and led the league in yards per attempt as well. It seemed as if he was the perfect fit for Smith’s system, even after Marcus Mariota, who is was designed for, struggled.
“Ryan did a good job last year,” Smith said. “I think you’ve got to earn your job everyday as a player and a coach. As we’re going into it there’s no mistake about it, we’re trying to take another step as we evolve and then improve. I feel, obviously, very confident in Ryan. He and I have a great relationship, I enjoy working with him. We see the game very similar. It’s fun talking football when we go in there and meet. I’m excited about the leadership Ryan will bring too, everybody is different and has their own style. Ryan has his own style and I certainly think will take off with it now.”
Tannehill’s emergence also coincided with the big play explosiveness shown by rookie A.J. Brown and tight end Jonnu Smith, both of whom blossomed into reliable playmakers in 2019.
Smith is excited to see where the passing attack goes as a complement to running back Derrick Henry.
“Ryan did a great job when he, obviously, as the season kind of hit a tipping point there. He took off. Ryan was very decisive with the football, he made some great plays, he’s able to move, he’s good in the pocket, he stands in there,” Smith said. “Again, the more attempts and the more we can do in the passing game, he can expand. He gives you a threat because Ryan is a good athlete. He was very decisive with the football, especially down in the red zone which helps as windows close quick, but we’re excited about Ryan and really where we can go with the passing offense.”
Smith and the Titans certainly want Tannehill to build off last year’s success. Signing him to a four-year extension certainly indicates that the Tennessee brass considers the quarterback not to be a one-year wonder.
“We feel good about the growth. The hardest thing to do in this business is sustain success and that’s what the great ones have done,” Smith said.
The Titans offensive coordinator promised that the explosiveness in the offense that arrived last season is not going away, but rather is something he wants to do more of in 2020.
“We’re going to continue to try to build off that and we want to be the most explosive unit we can. That’s something we’ll definitely strive (for). It’s not going to change. Hopefully we can do better on third down to stay on the field and have more possessions and more plays. We do not want to regress in the explosive part,” Smith said.