QB Ryan Tannehill Ponders His Blessed Path to the Titans – and His Future – at the Pro Bowl

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ORLANDO – Heading into the 2019 offseason, quarterback Ryan Tannehill's football life was filled with uncertainty.

He'd just finished his seventh season with the Dolphins, but he knew he wouldn't be returning to Miami. So Tannehill waited, and watched, as other quarterback spots around the NFL filled up. A part of him felt handcuffed, and helpless.

"I didn't have a lot to lean on but my family and my faith at that point," Tannehill said. "So that's what I did – I leaned on God, and my family. And I fully believed that God had a plan for me, and a path. I trusted in Him that whatever happened, whatever He had planned for me, was going to work out."

It worked out all right.

On Wednesday, Tannehill was at the Pro Bowl for the first time, representing the Tennessee Titans. After being traded to Tennessee in March, Tannehill went from being Marcus Mariota's back-up to the team's starting quarterback, and he ended up leading the NFL in passer rating while guiding the Titans into an AFC Championship Game for the first time since the 2002 season.

Mingling with the game's best players here at the Pro Bowl, Tannehill said he's thankful.

"It's a great experience, being here at the Pro Bowl," Tannehill said. "Everyone has been really nice and supportive – players, coaches – and just congratulating me on a great year and how happy they are for me."

But Tannehill admitted a part of him is still hurting.

He's still just three days removed from the AFC Championship Game loss to the Chiefs, which ended his team's Super Bowl dreams.

"It is tough honestly, and I'm still hurting," Tannehill said. "Being so close and putting so much into it throughout the course of the season – everybody in the organization does. When you are that close and come up just short it stuns you. Just looking at everyone in the locker room after the game, we were all just stunned. We had a lot of confidence and belief we were going to win, and when it didn't happen, it is just kind of a shock, a stunned feeling you are not prepared for. You don't really think about the other side of the coin, at least I didn't.

"So when it hits, it's a complete shock. It is hard to deal with it, and it's going to sting for a while. It's going to take a while to get over it. It's in the back of my head all the time right now.

"Obviously being here," Tannehill continued, "this is a distraction and it's fun – I'm trying to enjoy it as much as I can, enjoy meeting guys and talking to guys I've known and competed against over the years. It is fun, but at the same time it is in the back of my mind and it's going to take a while to get over."

With teammates Derrick Henry, Jurrell Casey and Brett Kern here in Orlando this week with him, Tannehill said it's another reminder of how successful the 2019 season for the Titans ended up being.

After starting the year 2-4, the Titans finished the regular season with a 9-7 mark, and then beat the Patriots and the Ravens in the playoffs before losing to the Chiefs. On Wednesday, Ravens coach John Harbaugh was among those who came up and congratulated Tannehill during a break in the AFC team's practice.

It was also a heck of a season for Tannehill, who was selected as both the 2019 NFL Comeback Player of the Year and the 2019 Most Improved Player of the Year by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) after leading the NFL with a 117.5 rating in 2019.

During the regular season, Tannehill threw for 2,742 yards with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions. In Tannehill's seven seasons with the Dolphins, his highest passer rating in a season came during the 2016 season, when he posted a 93.5 rating. In 2018, Tannehill threw for 1,979 yards with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions with the Dolphins, with a 92.7 rating, before being traded to the Titans in the offseason.

Tannehill said on Wednesday he enjoyed the season, but made it clear he felt he had it in him even while he waited, and wondered, this time last year.

"I don't know if I've proved anything to myself really," he said. "I've always believed in myself and had confidence, and knew the player that I am. This year things just lined up and guys played well around me and made plays. Derrick played well behind me, the offensive line played well and the receivers and tight ends, they were great to work with, and it all came together. Looking back, I really feel like everything worked out the way it did for a reason."

This weekend, Tannehill will play in another football game here at Camping World Stadium.

While missing out on the Super Bowl remains in the back of his mind, there's also some uncertainly as the offseason begins once again. Tannehill's one-year contract is up in March, and while he said he'd like to be back with the Titans, the waiting game will once again be under way soon.

He'll once again lean on those around him, and God.

"You never know what could happen," Tannehill said. "I do know I love the (Titans) organization, I love the team, I love the guys on the team, and I love the tone coach (Mike) Vrabel sets, and the vision that he has. I feel like we're headed in the right direction.

"I'd like for things to line up and I'd like to be back (in Tennessee) if it all gets worked out, but you never know what is going to happen. So you have to try and mentally prepare for that as well, what else can happen. We'll just have to see. But hopefully we can get things worked out and keep building on what we did this year."

Titans players arrive for week-long practices and festivities leading up to Sunday's Pro Bowl in Orlando, Fla. (Photos: Donald Page)

Mingling with the game's best players here at the Pro Bowl, Tannehill said he's thankful.

"It's a great experience, being here at the Pro Bowl," Tannehill said. "Everyone has been really nice and supportive – players, coaches – and just congratulating me on a great year and how happy they are for me."

But Tannehill admitted a part of him is still hurting.

He's still just three days removed from the AFC Championship Game loss to the Chiefs, which ended his team's Super Bowl dreams.

"It is tough honestly, and I'm still hurting," Tannehill said. "Being so close and putting so much into it throughout the course of the season – everybody in the organization does. When you are that close and come up just short it stuns you. Just looking at everyone in the locker room after the game, we were all just stunned. We had a lot of confidence and belief we were going to win, and when it didn't happen, it is just kind of a shock, a stunned feeling you are not prepared for. You don't really think about the other side of the coin, at least I didn't.

"So when it hits, it's a complete shock. It is hard to deal with it, and it's going to sting for a while. It's going to take a while to get over it. It's in the back of my head all the time right now.

"Obviously being here," Tannehill continued, "this is a distraction and it's fun – I'm trying to enjoy it as much as I can, enjoy meeting guys and talking to guys I've known and competed against over the years. It is fun, but at the same time it is in the back of my mind and it's going to take a while to get over."

With teammates Derrick Henry, Jurrell Casey and Brett Kern here in Orlando this week with him, Tannehill said it's another reminder of how successful the 2019 season for the Titans ended up being.

After starting the year 2-4, the Titans finished the regular season with a 9-7 mark, and then beat the Patriots and the Ravens in the playoffs before losing to the Chiefs. On Wednesday, Ravens coach John Harbaugh was among those who came up and congratulated Tannehill during a break in the AFC team's practice.

It was also a heck of a season for Tannehill, who was selected as both the 2019 NFL Comeback Player of the Year and the 2019 Most Improved Player of the Year by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) after leading the NFL with a 117.5 rating in 2019.

During the regular season, Tannehill threw for 2,742 yards with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions. In Tannehill's seven seasons with the Dolphins, his highest passer rating in a season came during the 2016 season, when he posted a 93.5 rating. In 2018, Tannehill threw for 1,979 yards with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions with the Dolphins, with a 92.7 rating, before being traded to the Titans in the offseason.

Tannehill said on Wednesday he enjoyed the season, but made it clear he felt he had it in him even while he waited, and wondered, this time last year.

"I don't know if I've proved anything to myself really," he said. "I've always believed in myself and had confidence, and knew the player that I am. This year things just lined up and guys played well around me and made plays. Derrick played well behind me, the offensive line played well and the receivers and tight ends, they were great to work with, and it all came together. Looking back, I really feel like everything worked out the way it did for a reason."

This weekend, Tannehill will play in another football game here at Camping World Stadium.

While missing out on the Super Bowl remains in the back of his mind, there's also some uncertainly as the offseason begins once again. Tannehill's one-year contract is up in March, and while he said he'd like to be back with the Titans, the waiting game will once again be under way soon.

He'll once again lean on those around him, and God.

"You never know what could happen," Tannehill said. "I do know love the (Titans) organization, I love the team, I love the guys on the team, and I love the tone coach (Mike) Vrabel sets, and the vision that he has. I feel like we're headed in the right direction.

"I'd like for things to line up and I'd like to be back (in Tennessee) if it all gets worked out, but you never know what is going to happen. So you have to try and mentally prepare for that as well, what else can happen. We'll just have to see. But hopefully we can get things worked out and keep building on what we did this year."

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