Ryan Tannehill knows that this off-season is unlike any other in NFL history due to the coronavirus pandemic that has rendered workouts as virtual ones and kept the Titans and other teams from assembling as usual thus far.
But Tannehill, armed with the security now of a four-year, $122 million contract extension to be the Titans’ leader, said that the continuity that is present on Tennessee offense from last year should help soften some of the blow of not being able to come together right now.
“Obviously every year is a new year, and what you did last year doesn’t really matter this year. But, being able to bring back the number of guys that we have coming back, so many guys returning back on offense, guys that know the offense that have been in it for multiple years, you can just kind of build on what we did last year,” Tannehill said. “So yeah, I think it definitely helps us especially in this type of situation when we’re not able to get in the building and spend a lot of time around each other and the coaching staff. Guys that were already familiar with it now are just able to go a little bit more in-depth, in detail on a lot of things that we did last year, and make small adjustments. It can only make us better.”
Also unlike 2019, Tannehill comes into this season knowing he is the Titans’ starting quarterback, whereas last year, he was acquired from Miami and spent the first six games of the season as Marcus Mariota’s backup. Tannehill also said the Titans’ alleged flirtation and rumors regarding Tom Brady (who ended up in Tampa Bay) did not bother him during the weeks between the end of the season and his contract extension signed in March.
“I really didn’t know what was going to happen. Obviously I knew we were in negotiations and kind of working on it, but you don’t know as a player. You don’t know if those things are real, if they’re trying to play both sides of the coin or what,” Tannehill said. “I just tried to stay true to the things I believed in and lean on the people that I love, and just kind of trust the process. I knew if they wanted me back that we were going to get it worked out, and if they wanted to sign Tom (Brady), then they probably would’ve signed Tom.
“I try not to lean – or listen too much to it. I obviously was aware of the situation, I knew it could be happening. But, I wasn’t sitting at home stressed, ‘What could happen?’ Because at that point it was really kind of out of my hands. I’m thankful for the way it worked out. I’m excited to be back, I wanted to be back. I love the guys on the team, I like the direction this program is headed with what we did last year and how I think we can build on that going into my Year 2 with this team.”
Building on Year 2 with the Titans means becoming more of a team leader, and even with the Covid-19 crisis keeping the locker room empty for now, Tannehill is focusing on being the leader of the offense and one of the leaders of the team.
“It’s just something that goes along with playing the position. It’s something last year I kind of had to take a step back from initially for a big stretch there in the offseason and the first part of the season, which was different for me,” Tannehill said. “So, I was kind of taking a step back and figuring out the role where this year I just kind of get to be myself, be the leader that I am, and hopefully bring guys together and elevate the play.”
For now, the quarterback is bringing guys together virtually, and hopes to make the best of it until things return to normal again.
“It’s strange. It’s weird not being able to be in the building, and spend time around the coaching staff and the guys. Really missing that aspect right now. I always look forward to getting back in the building, and spending time around the guys and coming together,” he said. “I’m not able to do that right now, so it’s strange. But, I think with (Mike) Vrabel and Art (Smith), and really guys have really bought in to what we’re allowed to do, and that’s all virtual. Trying to make the best of the situation, do the best we can with what we’ve been given.”