Todd Downing wants Ryan Tannehill to think happy thoughts
NASHVILLE – One of the ugliest aspects of Marcus Mariota’s last few weeks as the Tennessee Titans starting quarterback was what some might call “paralysis by analysis.”
Maybe it’s because Mariota was in a year on contract and didn’t play her best the previous one. Perhaps it was because he sensed the presence of Ryan Tannehill, such a talented replacement as there was in the NFL. Maybe he just wanted to do too much to help the Titans return to the playoffs after missing their game in 2018.
Regardless, Mariota seemed too often hesitant in his decision-making in 2019. He seemed so preoccupied with mistakes that he didn’t pitch quickly to open receivers, didn’t escape the rush. towards the pass as well as he had done in previous seasons. In six starts, Mariota has been sacked 25 times and bottomed out in a shutout loss to Denver, as he threw just seven completed passes and two interceptions.
That’s why the Titans, while they need Tannehill to cut his interceptions, don’t want him to take the same path. They don’t want him to worry so much about doing the wrong thing that it becomes more difficult to do the right thing.
“Sometimes I connect the quarterback to golf,” said offensive coordinator Todd Downing. “If you stand over a T-shirt and think, ‘Don’t cut it, don’t cut it, don’t cut it,’ you’re either going to slice it or hang it on the duck. ‘
“So you don’t want negative thoughts while you’re breaking up the group or following the game plan. So Ryan’s self-confidence, which should be high, will be absolutely paramount for us to have the success we need.
Statistically speaking, it’s been an eventful season for Tannehill, especially compared to his first two years in Tennessee where he had a total of 55 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. In 12 games in 2021, Tannehill – hampered by a constant parade of injuries to top receivers – threw 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, the latter being the second-highest in the league. Five of Tannehill’s interceptions have come in the last two games, losses to Houston and New England.
Downing, however, doesn’t want Tannehill to overcompensate as he tries to correct the problem.
“I am a firm believer in staying true to the reading, believing what your feet are telling you in terms of the concept and the process of trusting,” Downing said. “There have been a lot of different reasons for the turnovers, and we’ve worked hard to get them out and smooth those wrinkles. I told you before here that Ryan is a hard worker and that gambling means a lot to him.
“I also told you that his stat lines don’t tell the story of his season. So, we just want Ryan to stay engaged in his process. We’ll never shake the wheel here. We have great faith in him and are confident that we will soon be able to get on the right track.
One of the things the Titans’ coaches praised Tannehill for when he became the team’s starting quarterback was his determination, the confidence he had to trust his own eyes.
Downing, who coached quarterbacks for three NFL teams before joining Mike Vrabel’s side, says he sees no evidence that Tannehill’s confidence has been shaken this season.
“I think every quarterback is different,” Downing said. “Everyone has their own personality. … sometimes you have to strengthen a guy a little bit or you have to let him see a few completed balls or whatever.
“But Ryan did a good job in the context of what we asked him to do. There are definitely some throws he wants to recover. I think that’s true for 31 other teams. But we are delighted to have it.
Tannehill will get extra help on Sunday, in the form of seven-time Pro Bowl receiver Julio Jones, who returns from injured reserve on Saturday after missing the last three games. Plus, the Titans have a little something in store in Golden Tate, who is on the practice squad.
Together these two would make it even easier for Tannehill to follow Downing’s unspoken advice: keep grabbing and tearing. For now, it’s Jones who should help reassure his quarterback.
“Ryan is the leader of this team,” said Downing. “We believe a lot in him pulling the trigger at quarterback for us.”