NASHVILLE – Actions speak louder than words, but in the case of Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill, he made a great first impression with his voice in his starting debut in Tennessee.
And it started from the time he stepped into the huddle.
“In the huddle, he is the general,” Titans receiver A.J. Brown said of Tannehill. “He leads us. He has a lot of confidence in the huddle, and you can tell — you can hear it in his voice. Every play call, you can hear it. He says it real loud and with authority, and you can feel that.”
Tannehill’s actions, well, they weren’t too shabby either.
In his first start as a Titan, Tannehill completed 23-of-29 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns, with a 120.1 rating in the team’s win over the Chargers.
Tannehill’s 79.3 completion percentage (23-of-29) set a career high for games with a minimum of 20 attempts, and he reached other accomplishments based on the same criteria — his completion percentage qualified as the 10th-best in franchise history, and his 120.1 passer rating ranked 10th in his eight-year career.
Tannehill and the Titans will try and keep it going this Sunday when they face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Nissan Stadium.
This week, Titans coach Mike Vrabel said Tannehill showed great trust in his receivers in his first start. The team’s receivers agreed, and Tannehill himself said it’s a two-way street.
“I hope it gives them some confidence,” Tannehill said. “I can’t speak for them on what they feel, but I know I have more confidence now throwing to those guys after seeing them go make contested catches in traffic. Corey (Davis) early in the game, A.J. (Brown) throughout the game just being able to attack the football and go get it. I told them like, ‘Hey, you guys get open, I’m going to throw it. You guys attack the football and make plays,’ and they did that.
“So, I know I have a lot more trust in those guys now that I’ve thrown those passes to them and I’m seeing them make the catches.”
Despite working as a back-up behind Marcus Mariota all offseason and during the first six weeks of the regular season, Tannehill still managed to develop chemistry with his receivers.
And that was on full display on Sunday, when he completed six passes each to Davis and Brown, and four to receiver Adam Humphries. Titans receiver Tajae Sharpe also got open and caught a touchdown pass in the win.
“It builds a lot of trust,” Brown said of the success. “We just have to keep making plays for him.”
Humphries said the trust-building process started back in May with Tannehill, who joined the Titans via trade back in March after spending his first seven seasons with the Dolphins.
“We build that trust in training camp and OTAs and practice, and we had a good feeling with Ryan and Marcus,” Humphries said. “To go out there in a game, to catch those contested passes and to be able to move the ball down the field and throw for a lot of yards, it does bring that extra confidence that you can do that in a game and hopefully we can carry that momentum forward.”
On Sunday, the Titans will face a Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No.1 in the NFL in run defense, and 32nd in pass defense.
The Titans believe the success from last week should carry over.
But it’s something they’ll all have to continue to work on.
“Yeah, I expect it to continue to develop,” Tannehill said. “The passing game is timing and trust, expecting those guys to be in the right spot at the right time. So, I have a ton of trust in those guys and I think I saw it happening in practice in training camp when I was able to throw to those guys a little bit. But really, just getting a week of practice under my belt with them only deepened that trust.
“I’m still one game in. (So I’m) just continuing to settle in with this offense, with this team, but I’m confident in the guys that are out there and expect things to just continue to gel together.”