NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel, desperately in need of a spark on offense, has elected to make a change at quarterback, naming Ryan Tannehill the new starter, a source confirmed to ESPN.
Tuesday’s move, which was first reported by NFL Network, comes after Tannehill — the former Miami Dolphins starting quarterback — was inserted into the lineup in the third quarter against the Denver Broncos on Sunday. Vrabel gave Tannehill a chance to make some plays in relief of an ineffective Marcus Mariota, who threw two interceptions.
Tannehill finished with 13 completions for 144 yards on 16 pass attempts. He led the Titans on their only trips into the red zone, but an interception and a turnover on downs kept Tennessee from scoring in a 16-0 loss.
The Titans acquired Tannehill, along with a 2019 sixth-round draft pick, from the Dolphins this offseason in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2020 draft and a seventh-round pick in 2019. Tannehill signed a one-year deal with the Titans worth $7 million with up to $12 million in incentives to facilitate the trade.
While with the Dolphins, Tannehill had a 42-45 record from 2012 to 2018. He missed the 2017 season due to a knee injury. Tannehill has proved in the past that he can put up respectable numbers as a quarterback, passing for over 4,000 yards in both 2014 and 2015.
Although he had been relegated to a backup role, Tannehill never lost the conviction that he can be a successful quarterback.
“I have a ton of confidence in myself. You have to, to play this position. I believe in myself a whole lot,” Tannehill said Monday.
Mariota had been the unquestioned starter over the past three seasons. Moving him out of the lineup is a difficult situation for the Titans players, who are expected to support Tannehill going forward.
“Ryan was an elite QB in this league not longer than a year ago. He can take over a team. He can make plays,” tight end Delanie Walker said Monday.
Added safety Kevin Byard, “It’s a tough situation because I think this entire team is and has always been behind No. 8. As long as we’ve been here, that’s been my guy. I support him throughout everything. But that’s a coach’s decision. If they feel like No. 17 can give us the best opportunity to win ballgames, I understand they’ll make the decision they feel is best for our team.”