Ryan Tannehill returned Monday to Nashville for the first time since the Titans playoff loss to the Bengals and was met with questions and scrutiny about the last three months.
After the loss that saw Tannehill throw 3 interceptions he never accepted personal responsibility for it after the game and then failed to speak to the media on locker clean out day. That left fans wondering out loud if Tannehill cared or actually felt any responsibility for a massively disappointing loss.
Tuesday Tannehill said the loss and his performance left him in a very “dark place” and in a very long struggle, “It’s a scar, it’s a deep scar. You know, it was a lot of sleepless nights. Every time I closed my eyes I was re-watching the game in my head. Didn’t get a whole lot of sleep for weeks and weeks after the game. I was in a dark place and it took a lot of work and a while to get out of it.”
That work included therapy sessions. He says therapy is something he has done for a while, but it did take on new importance after a crushing loss that saw him play below his “standard” he sets for himself. Tannehill says now he has turned that pain into “fuel” for next season in which he has a desire to win “unlike I’ve ever had before.”
Tannehill raised more eyebrows when he failed to show up for the first two weeks of voluntary workouts after that crushing loss. He said two extra weeks with family and completing a home project were what was best for him.
Then there was that ill timed social media add that had him fishing last week. Tannehill explained that picture was taken in March, he was indeed hard at work and that people can read too much into those things.
Draft day brought on the trade of star receiver AJ Brown and the addition of quarterback Malik Willis in round three.”That one hurt” Tannehill said about losing Brown, “Professionally it hurt, top target, heck of a football player, made big plays for us consistently over the last three years. Personally it hurt, you know, AJ is a good friend.”
Tannehill said he was in contact with Brown this summer and was aware of the problems in contract negotiations but said he just believed a deal would get done.
As for the addition of Willis, Tannehill said the Titans did not consult him about adding a quarterback in the draft, but he supports the team adding talent to the roster. The veteran quarterback said he reached out to Willis last Saturday and understands Willis is here to play, “that’s part about being in the same room. We’re competing against each other, watching the same tape, we’re dong the same drills. I don’t think it’s my job to mentor him, but if he learns from me along the way then that’s a great thing.”
Tannehill still has two years left on his contract and said his concern right now is winning games next fall. He also said as far he knows his relationship with head coach Mike Vrabel is still good. Some wondered if Vrabel was frustrated with Tannehill’s absence the first two weeks of voluntary workouts.
Ryan Tannehill is back. He answered a ton of questions at the podium, but now the big question is can he answer them on the field after a third straight playoff loss.