There was much optimism within their camp before the Divisional Weekend because they would have Derrick Henry back.
He was on pace to have another 2,000-yard season if not for the injury that limited him to eight games.
Having him in the backfield boosted the Titans’ chances against the visiting Cincinnati Bengals.
The first touchdown of the Divisional Round: who else but @KingHenry_2!?
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) January 22, 2022
Despite the nine sacks by their defense, Tennessee lost via a walk-off field goal by rookie Evan McPherson.
That setback maintains the franchise’s postseason losing streak when they get the AFC’s top seed.
While Vrabel expressed that losing was never about one person, Ryan Tannehill deserves to be the fall guy.
Tannehill Melting Under Pressure
Before their showdown against the Bengals, Tannehill declared, “I play to win football games.”
He backed up that confidence during the regular season by becoming a steady presence even if Henry wasn’t playing.
Tannehill does not produce eye-popping stats, but he gets the job done.
Even with Henry sidelined, he gets credit for the Titans’ continued success.
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) January 24, 2022
The former Texas A&M standout had a 67.2 completion percentage throughout the season and threw for 21 touchdowns.
Though Tennessee’s offense is run-heavy, he failed to throw a touchdown pass in just four games.
He also had four games with multiple touchdown connections.
Therefore, Vrabel expects him to keep their offense moving, even if Henry took most of the snaps.
Unfortunately, things turned sour for Tannehill against the upstart Bengals.
Before the Cincinnati game, he did not have an interception in their last three regular-season games.
That streak ended when Jessie Bates III stole his first pass attempt, resulting in a field goal.
Yikes, Ryan Tannehill 😅pic.twitter.com/CpPaHpkB1E
— DraftKings (@DraftKings) January 22, 2022
The Titans were lucky to be down by just six points after the first quarter.
They couldn’t find their groove offensively, and Tannehill didn’t complete a pass until the closing minutes of the first.
When Tannehill took over in the second half, the Titans were already down by ten after a Joe Mixon touchdown.
But their drive resulted in nothing when Mike Hilton anticipated the pass for another pick.
— NFL (@NFL) January 22, 2022
The Pick That Ended Tennessee’s Run
The Titans defense took the ball back late in the third frame despite those failed drives.
This time, Tannehill became a hero after tying the game via a touchdown pass to A.J. Brown.
But Tennessee’s Super Bowl hopes ended when he threw his third interception.
Tannehill didn’t notice tight end Anthony Firkser open for a first down at the middle of the field.
CLUTCH INT FOR THE BENGALS 😱
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 23, 2022
Logan Wilson came up with the ball, giving the Bengals one more opportunity.
McPherson converted his fourth field goal in as many attempts.
Those were the only points scored by either team in the final quarter.
Time For A Quarterback Change?
Tannehill completed 15 passes, but his three interceptions gave him a 10.4 QBR.
His critics again sound the alarm bells that he’s the Titans’ weak link.
However, the team does not have much leverage to release him.
He counts $28 million against next year’s salary cap if traded before June 1, 2022, and not too many teams are willing to absorb such an amount.
That was a BAD loss by the Titans… is it time to move on from Ryan Tannehill?
— Wake n Jake (@WakeJakeJM) January 24, 2022
Besides, who can the Titans realistically get who is better than Tannehill?
Likewise, Tennessee remains kings of the AFC South unless Carson Wentz turns into an elite quarterback.
Therefore, Tannehill will most likely have one more year to redeem himself.
But don’t be surprised if the Titans draft a quarterback in 2022.
If Tannehill’s blunders continue, he’s off Tennessee’s books after next season.