NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee scored lots of points and piled up lots of yards with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback over the span of just 10 games.
The Titans now get to see how productive this offense can be with Tannehill under center from the start of the season.
Coach Mike Vrabel said Tannehill’s mastery of the offense is very proficient for what the Titans are asking him to do.
“I’m very happy with his grasp of what we’re trying to get done,” Vrabel said.
Tannehill led the NFL in passer rating with Pro Bowl running back Derrick Henry as the NFL rushing leader. They also led the NFL in red zone efficiency, scoring touchdowns on 75.6% of trips inside an opponent’s 20, ranked fourth in yards per play averaging 6.12 yards, tied for third with 54 total TDs.
Once Tannehill took over in mid-October, the Titans were even better over the final 10 games of the regular season. The Titans ranked third in both scoring, averaging 30.4 points a game and total offense with 406.2 yards per game. They led the NFL in that stretch, averaging 6.94 yards per play.
Now Tannehill has had an entire offseason and preseason to assert himself as the leader with Marcus Mariota now with the Raiders.
“Obviously, first year in an offense, a lot of times you’re still picking it up,” Tannehill said. “It takes some time to get up and understand exactly the nuances of the different offenses, how you call things, how we adjust to things, how we audible things, things to look for that we can take advantage of, and so it kind of fluctuates.”
This also is the second season for Arthur Smith as offensive coordinator. A year ago, Smith hadn’t called a play in a regular-season game. Now he has 10 offensive starters back from the group that went to the AFC championship game trying to build on 2019.
“We’re just continually trying to tweak what we’ve done,” Smith said. “Is there a better way to do it? So, we’re constantly looking at that. You don’t want to get stale regardless of how many starters are back. But there’s good familiarity of where to go, good recall on some of the stuff we’ve done in the past.”
Vrabel also sees the relationship continuing to grow between Smith and Tannehill. Teammates also are more comfortable with how Tannehill calls plays, especially when he makes changes at the line.
“We’re going to continue to expand to try to give us the best chance that we can based on what looks we’re getting,” Vrabel said.
There’s plenty of room for improvement. Vrabel wants them to be more efficient on first and second downs to create more manageable yardage on third downs and also commit fewer penalties before the snap.
Vrabel caught 12 TD passes as an NFL linebacker during his playing career, so yes Tennessee likes to use players in a variety of ways. That makes it tougher for defenses to know who will do what.
Safety Kevin Byard caught a pass last season. So did a pair of offensive linemen in Dennis Kelly and David Quessenberry — both for touchdowns. Henry threw a jump pass for a TD in Tennessee’s divisional win at Baltimore, a play where quarterback Marcus Mariota was wide open to the right.
Trevor Siemian signed with the Titans a couple of weeks ago, and he loves everything about what the Titans do on offense, especially how the quarterback is allowed to be aggressive and decisive.
“Early in my career, I was in a scheme similar for two years and I didn’t realize how good I had it playing in that scheme at the time,” Siemian said. “But I’ve been kind peeking over the fence, so to speak, itching to kind of getting back into an offense similar to this.”
NOTES: Starting right guard Nate Davis was carted off the field late in practice Tuesday. He walked into the building with help on either side limping on his left leg. OLB Derick Roberson hurt his right leg during pass rush drills and also was carted off the field early in practice. … WR A.J. Brown returned to practice through individual drills.
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