Despite being the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC, the Tennessee Titans‘ 2021 postseason experience was a brief one. They fell in the Divisional Round at the hands of Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals.
After the loss, veteran quarterback Ryan Tannehill became the subject of heavy criticism. He threw three interceptions during the loss and was firmly outplayed by Burrow. Many blamed Tannehill for the loss in its entirety.
The Titans’ lack of elite quarterback play was their downfall
It’s never fair to pin all the blame on one player when it comes to tough losses in the postseason. However, it’s certainly hard to ignore the role the quarterback plays in the NFL. It’s arguably the most important position in sports, and it was a big reason the Bengals upset the Titans in the first place.
Tannehill struggled to keep the football while Burrow passed for an eye-popping 348 yards. Tennessee even had Derrick Henry back in the lineup for the second-round matchup. All Tannehill had to do was manage the game effectively.
Instead, we saw a perfect example of how a lack of elite quarterback play holds the Titans back in the AFC. With young gunslingers Burrow, Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, and Justin Herbert set to dominate the conference for the next decade or so, the Titans are in danger of being left behind.
Derrick Henry went to bat for his QB
Despite most fans in Tennessee turning on their veteran quarterback, star running back Derrick Henry decided to voice his support. He believes Tannehill is a victim of fans looking for a “scapegoat.”
“At this point, people are looking to find a scapegoat and want to blame someone,” Henry said. “We know what comes with the territory when you have high expectations, and you don’t meet that expectation. But that’s just what it is.”
“Ryan has been in this league for a long time, and he is a great player. We all take on the criticism — I take it on. It is a team sport, and not just one player. You just have to accept it for what it is, and you can’t let it get you down and cause you to beat yourself up. You have to let it motivate you and make you come back better. He has to know he has his teammates behind (him), and everybody else in the organization as well.”
The Titans need to ignore Henry and explore the QB market
Henry going to bat for his teammate is heartwarming. However, if the Titans are serious about making a Super Bowl in the coming years, they should explore the QB market this offseason.
Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Deshaun Watson are all likely to be moved this spring. The Titans acquiring any of these passers would immediately establish them as legitimate contenders.
Swinging a franchise-altering QB trade is easier said than done. However, the Titans shouldn’t feel any sense of attachment to Tannehill. He was solid the past few seasons, but three interceptions in a home playoff game is unacceptable. The team needs an upgrade.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.