Lamar Jackson is the obvious front-runner, Russell Wilson is in the conversation, but let me throw another name out there for the MVP race: Ryan Tannehill.
Alright, stop laughing and hear me out.
When the Titans brought Tannehill in from the Miami Dolphins in the off-season, the fanbase was instantaneously divided.
Marcus Mariota, the face of the franchise since being drafted with the No. 2 pick in the 2015 draft, appeared to digress drastically last season. Just one year removed from a playoff win, he had a lingering injury last season which began to turn some of the Titans’ faithful on the former Heisman Trophy winner.
Ryan Tannehill, the former Dolphins franchise quarterback, just two seasons removed from signing a big contract extension, became expendable in Miami as the team began a rebuild in favor of veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.
After a shaky 2-4 start, and sitting in last place in their division with Mariota under center, Mike Vrabel benched Mariota in the loss to the Broncos. Leading into the next game, Vrabel made the decision to give Tannehill his shot.
Since then, the team is 6-1 with a Week 15 matchup against Houston for sole possession of first place in the AFC South on the line. A second meeting for the two is scheduled for Week 17 with Drew Brees and the Saints in between.
Tannehill has passed for 1,993 yards with 15 touchdown passes and five interceptions, plus a quarterback rating of 118.5. He has also rushed for 150 yards and three touchdowns.
He has beaten the Chargers, Buccaneers, Chiefs, Raiders, Jaguars, and Colts. The only loss was to the Christian McCaffrey-led Panthers before their season took a drastic turn.
He has proven he can play from behind, although it’s not ideal for any quarterback or team. Rather than get rattled, he exudes competitiveness and the desire to win.
Derrick Henry’s production has improved, as has rookie receiver A.J. Brown, who has become the threat that Titans fans have been looking for. The tight ends not named Delanie Walker, who is on injured reserve, are thriving. The offensive line has improved in large part because Tannehill is decisive and gets the ball out quickly, one of the detriments against Mariota.
If the Titans win out, win the division by at least two games, host a playoff game and Tannehill continues to play like he has, shouldn’t he be in the MVP conversation? Both Jackson and Wilson had a six-week headstart. If only Vrabel had made the switch sooner, Ryan Tannehill would definitely be right there in the conversation.