Unless you have been living under a rock or in a coma for the past 4 months, you likely are familiar with the journey of Ryan Tannehill. When the Tennessee Titans brought in Tannehill during the 2019 offseason, they created a $1.75 million insurance plan for Marcus “Mediocre” Mariota. After Mariota struggled, Tannehill came in and swiped the starting job away. He posted a 7-3 record as the starter and led the Titans to their fourth consecutive 9-7 finish as they snuck into the playoffs with the #6 seed.
Making the playoffs would’ve been enough of a success for the Titans, as the real success was stability at the quarterback position, but Tannehill delivered some playoff magic. Along with the valiant efforts of Derrick Henry, Tannehill beat the defending champion New England Patriots and the #1 seed Baltimore Ravens. Leading the Titans to the AFC Championship game set Tannehill up to receive a 4-year extension worth nearly $30 million per year.
The Titans cashed in on their cheap insurance plan, and it now appears as if they set a trend in the NFL. Teams with struggling quarterbacks and a win-now mentality are bringing in veteran QBs to push the starter and step in if necessary. This strategy, dubbed by yours truly as the “Tannehill Method,” has been employed by a few teams this offseason, including the Bears, Colts, and Raiders.
The Tannehill Method is a novelty in the football world and there are no clear examples in the past of winning teams bringing in veterans to push the starter. The closest example in recent memory is the 2018 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston had a quarterback competition, but Winston remained the starter in Tampa and neither quarterback excelled consistently.
The Titans might not be the first to attempt the Tannehill Method, but they were the first to succeed in doing so.
The Bears are the most obvious example of a team attempting to replicate the success of the Titans in 2019. Mitchell Trubisky has caused more stress and anxiety for the city of Chicago than anything else and Bears fans deserve better. Pressure from the fans practically forced GM Ryan Pace to bring in Nick Foles via trade from the Jaguars. With a strong defense, the Bears’ championship window is waning, and they will struggle in the brutal NFC North if they can’t fix their offensive struggles.
Foles has connections with several members of Chicago’s offensive staff, including head coach Matt Nagy and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. He is very familiar with Nagy’s system and should be able to step in for Mitchell Trubisky if needed. The Bears used nearly their entire cap space improving other positions (they have just $1.7 million remaining) and Ryan Pace’s job is at stake, so there is a clear win-now mentality in Chicago.
Along with the Bears, the Colts regressed significantly in 2019 and missed the playoffs. Colts GM Chris Ballard likely regrets giving Jacoby Brissett a $30 million extension after a promising start, and the Colts want to remain on par with their AFC South counterparts. That’s why they brought in Philip Rivers on a one-year deal for $25 million. They are just one year removed from an AFC Divisional round berth and have a talented roster capable of returning to the playoffs in 2020.
The intent of the Colts is unknown when it comes to assessing the quarterback situation, but an attempt to replicate their rival’s success is a plausible explanation. They also may intend to start Rivers immediately, or ignite a classic quarterback competition, but it is clear they are not satisfied with the play of Jacoby Brissett.
Las Vegas Raiders
There is a fair amount of irony in the situation for the Las Vegas Raiders (Still sounds weird to say, right?), as they brought in Marcus Mariota to push Derek Carr. Carr’s time in Oakland has been similar to that of Mariota in Tennessee. Both led their teams to just one playoff berth, and mediocre play has dominated the careers of the two.
Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock have made significant upgrades to the Raiders roster over the past two offseasons, so it is clear the Raiders expect to improve in 2020. Derek Carr has been a scapegoat for the Raiders’ recent struggles, and is on thin ice in the middle of the desert. A more-athletic Marcus Mariota will be ready to step in, and it seems as if Chucky isn’t reluctant to make the switch.