The Tennessee Titans have become the darlings of the NFL with their improbable run to the AFC Championship. Jets fans, of course, can’t even enjoy it.
The resurgence of Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill adds another red flag to the warnings surrounding Jets head coach Adam Gase, who worked closely with the veteran passer during his three-year stint as head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
Keyboard warriors are condemning Gase for holding Tannehill back, citing that he can perform when surrounded by competent coaching.
While Gase has been at fault for several questionable things as a head coach, Tannehill’s revival is simply one of those things Jets fans should shrug their shoulders about and move on rather than worry about the development of Sam Darnold.
There was a time when Tannehill was considered to be the next franchise quarterback of a Dolphins team that hasn’t had that since Dan Marino. Drafted eighth overall in 2012, he looked the part over his first four seasons in the NFL.
Tannehill surpassed the 4,000-yard mark twice while averaging 22 touchdown passes per year.
Then Gase arrived in Miami.
Tannehill’s production was muted under the head coach. His 16-game averages from 2016-2018 were 500 passing yards fewer than his first four seasons. His interception percentage rose from 2.4 to 3.2 as Gase tried to develop Tannehill into more of a downfield passer.
Now in Tennessee, Tannehill led the NFL in yards gained per pass attempt, yards gained per pass completion, and quarterback rating as he’s a win away from a Super Bowl appearance.
Time to sharpen those pitchforks and point them at Gase, right? Not exactly.
It’s worth noting that Tannehill was derailed by injuries, including a torn ACL that resulted in the complete loss of his 2017 season. So over three seasons, he played in just 24 games. Still, his quarterback rating experienced an uptick during his limited time under center with Gase, jumping eight points from 85.2 to 93.2.
Rather than being the franchise quarterback and potential savior of a franchise, Tannehill is performing as a game manager with the Titans. He has the league’s leading rusher in Derrick Henry — who just set an NFL record by posting 180-plus yards in three-straight games — so he doesn’t have to go out and make the big play.
We saw this in the first two rounds of the playoffs as Tannehill averaged 80 passing yards per game. He then took what the defense gave him when they tried to key in on Henry, posting four total touchdowns compared to just one interception.
This isn’t the kind of quarterback anyone wants to see Darnold become with the Jets. The second-year passer needs to be that big-game player to break the franchise’s 50-plus-year Super Bowl drought; not a game manager.
It’s something Gase tried to create with Tannehill in Miami and had it not been for injuries, maybe that could have happened.
Worrying about the development of Darnold under Gase because of this sole instance, though, is a stretch.
There are plenty of questionable things Gase has done during his time as an NFL head coach. That includes the possible misuse of Le’Veon Bell and — going back to Miami — DeVante Parker and Kenyan Drake. Tannehill’s return, however, isn’t one of them.