The Tennessee Titans began the 2022 season with back-to-back losses to the Giants and Bills, who are a combined 13-3. Since then, Mike Vrabel’s tough and gritty team has runoff four consecutive wins, and now sit at 4-2.
Those wins have come behind a very good defense, a strong running game with star running back Derrick Henry and a veteran quarterback in Ryan Tannehill who’s done a pretty good job at managing the game.
Tannehill’s 49 consecutive games streak as starter will come to an end this weekend. It’s the longest such streak in Titans history for quarterbacks. The former Texas A&M product is set to miss Sunday’s game against the Texans, as he recovers from a stomach bug.
That in turn means prized rookie Malik Willis will get the call under center for the Titans offense. Willis reportedly took most of the first-team reps during the week in preparation of possibly getting his first career start.
Following Friday’s practice, the former Liberty Flames star told reporters, “Being prepared is probably my best bet. You have to prepare like you’re going to be the starter every week.”
Vrabel Says He’s Comfortable With Willis Taking The Lead
During the week as it became increasingly unlikely that Tannehill would play, Vrabel told reporters that Willis was expected to prepare as if he’d start. He also said the team had an offensive set of plays they felt comfortable using with Willis, the dynamic dual-threat.
“We’ve got a multitude of plays that we can run,” Vrabel told the media. “The ones that we have in that we feel like can help us win against Houston, then there are other plays that we could go to if another quarterback had to be in there.”
A lot of that will probably involve handing the football off to star running back Derrick Henry as often as they can. Henry, the two-time rushing champ, is currently fourth in the league with 536 yards rushing.
Willis Showed Flashes In The Preseason
Willis lasted until the third round of the NFL draft, dropping further than the first round that many analysts projected. The Titans believe they got a steal and an elite talent, similar to when Russell Wilson was selected in the third round by the Seattle Seahawks in 2012. Following a decent preseason outing, Vrabel assessed Willis’ play by saying this:
“He needs to throw the ball when guys are open, be more decisive.”
Vrabel is an old-school coach who isn’t into giving young players a lot of praise. He’s more into telling them what they need to do to improve. Vrabel’s approach is eerily reminiscent of his former New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
Tannehill is likely to get his job back once healthy, but it’s a great chance for Willis to get some vital in-game reps, because he’s always just one play away from being the starter.