Dec 31, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) looks for an open receiver during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Titans QB Ryan Tannehill starting finale vs. Jaguars

Veteran Ryan Tannehill will start at quarterback for the Tennessee Titans in Sunday’s regular-season finale, coach Mike Vrabel said after Friday’s practice.

Tannehill draws the start against the Jacksonville Jaguars due to Will Levis dealing with an injured right foot.

It will be Tannehill’s 63rd start for Tennessee (5-11) over the last five seasons. Only seven of them have occurred this season as he lost the starting gig to Levis in late October.

“He’s handled (things) with class,” Vrabel said of Tannehill. “You can be disappointed, but also still be supportive and be about the team. A lot of emotions that go on with each individual player, their role on the football team and how that changes throughout the year. But I do appreciate Ryan’s professionalism throughout.”

Tannehill has completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 1,448 yards, with just two touchdown throws and six interceptions in nine appearances this season. Overall, he has compiled 34,713 passing yards, 214 touchdowns and 114 interceptions in 11 NFL seasons with the Miami Dolphins (2012-18) and Tennessee (2019-23).

Second-year pro Malik Willis will serve as the backup quarterback on Sunday. Levis, who is listed as questionable, will be the No. 3 quarterback and used only in an emergency.

Levis has completed 58.4 percent of his passes for 1,808 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions.

Four Titans were ruled out — cornerbacks Caleb Farley (back) and Anthony Kendall (knee), defensive end TK McLendon Jr. (shoulder) and receiver Colton Dowell (knee).

–Field Level Media

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17), quarterback Malik Willis (7), and quarterback Will Levis (8) huddle before a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023.

Titans to start Ryan Tannehill if QB Will Levis (ankle) is out

Ryan Tannehill welcomes the chance to return to the starting lineup even with the Tennessee Titans eliminated from playoff consideration.

Tannehill operated the first-team offense on Wednesday in place of injured rookie quarterback Will Levis. Levis did not practice due to an ankle injury.

Tannehill could get the call this week in what sets up potentially as his final home start with the franchise. The past two months have been a rollercoaster of emotion for the 35-year-old who was demoted while dealing with an ankle injury similar to the one Levis is fighting this week.

“It’s a challenge, right? You get your job taken, basically,” Tannehill said. “And your first instinct is not a positive one. It’s been a growing opportunity for me to put my own feelings aside and try to be an asset, continue to work and be a positive impact on this team.”

Head coach Mike Vrabel said “we’ll see where it goes” when asked for the pecking order at quarterback before admitting he would hand the keys back to Tannehill if Levis isn’t able to play. Malik Willis would be the No. 2 quarterback in that scenario.

With the Titans at 2-4 and Tannehill hurt, Tennessee started Levis for the first time Oct. 29. Levis threw four TD passes in a 28-23 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

In eight NFL starts, Levis has thrown for 1,792 passing yards with eight touchdowns and four interceptions. Tannehill has two touchdowns, six interceptions and has been sacked 19 times in 2023.

But the Titans (5-9) are no longer in playoff contention, mathematically eliminated last week, reducing the motivation for Vrabel to risk playing Levis despite being injury.

The Titans selected Levis 33rd overall in the 2023 NFL Draft with Tannehill in the final season of a four-year, $118 million contract.

Tannehill said he’s encouraging teammates to find a reason to be bring passion to the field Sunday against the visiting Seattle Seahawks and the final two games after that.

“Obviously our No. 1 goal is not on the table at this point,” Tannehill said. “You want to go out there and find a reason to bring passion, bring energy to your teammates. Right now I’m playing for my teammates, my family and myself. That’s what I lean on.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 2, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Will Levis (8) throws under pressure from the Pittsburgh Steelers defense during the first quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Will Levis era continues for Titans with trip to Buccaneers

To paraphrase the late George Allen, the future is now for the Tennessee Titans.

By moving on from Ryan Tannehill and naming rookie Will Levis their starting quarterback, beginning with Sunday’s trip to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee (3-5) is acknowledging what became clear during its last two games.

Levis gives the Titans their best chance to win while, at the same time, allowing them to start his developmental clock. There will be games when Levis rushes, throws and makes terrible mistakes, but he’s shown more than enough to inherit the keys to the family car.

“Nothing in this life is ever going to come easy,” he said. “And when you hit that bump in the road, know that’s an opportunity to get better. Just keep a positive mindset about things sometimes when I get down. It’s a good way to bring me back to base.”

Levis threw four touchdown passes in his first start, a Week 8 win over Atlanta, and played well in a 20-16 loss at Pittsburgh in Week 9. He went 22 of 39 for 262 yards with an endgame interception after driving the team from its 15 to the Steelers’ 19.

His ability to push the ball down the field and play with poise behind one of the shakier offensive lines in the league has impressed neutral observers, even ones who were skeptical of his ability to be ready for starting duty so soon.

“Will has done some good things obviously,” said Tannehill, who vows to be the best resource he can be for him. “He came in and played well.”

Levis’ passer rating through two games is 96.4, averaging more than 12 yards per completion. By contrast, Tannehill averages 11.5 yards per completion in six games with a QB rating of 71.9.

There are no questions surrounding Tampa Bay’s quarterback. Still, Baker Mayfield isn’t considered a long-term solution for a franchise trying to figure out its way after Tom Brady gave it three seasons and a Super Bowl title following the 2020 season.

Mayfield played well last week in a 39-37 loss at Houston, hitting 21 of 30 attempts for 265 yards and two touchdowns. His 14-yard strike to Cade Otton with 46 seconds left gave the Buccaneers (3-5) a 37-33 lead, but their secondary quickly allowed a 75-yard drive and a game-losing touchdown with six seconds remaining.

Former Tampa Bay great Ronde Barber indulged in some swipes at the defensive backfield after C.J. Stroud torched them for an NFL-rookie record 470 yards and five touchdowns.

“To me, this was an embarrassing watch,” Barber said during the 33rd Team podcast with former NFL MVP Rich Gannon. “They look like the worst secondary in football.”

Through eight games, Tampa Bay has allowed the fifth-most passing yards in the league with 2,235. Opponents are averaging 7.4 yards per attempt, worse than any other pass defense in the NFL except for Denver at 7.6.

The Titans own a 10-2 lead in their all-time series with the Buccaneers, winning the last three matchups.

–Field Level Media

Nov 2, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Tennessee Titans quarterback Will Levis (8) gestures to the sidelines against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Pittsburgh won 20-16. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Titans name rookie Will Levis QB1, bench Ryan Tannehill

Head coach Mike Vrabel saw enough of rookie Will Levis in a two-game audition to make the permanent change to the rookie quarterback as the Titans get ready to visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

Vrabel said the Titans made the decision after Levis, 24, impressed as the starter filling in for injured Ryan Tannehill. He threw four touchdown passes in his debut to beat the Atlanta Falcons and showed poise and confidence in a loss at Pittsburgh last week.

“There’s clearly something there, and we want to be able to continue to work with him and progress and develop and win — that’s how you get better,” Vrabel said. “You only get better by going out there and playing, especially at that position. So this will be a huge test for any quarterback, going on the road, in Tampa, with what they are able to do, how well they are coached schematically, but also the players they have, the pressure packages, the disguises that they are able to have, and as many turnovers as they’ve been able to create.

Vrabel said he met with his quarterbacks on Tuesday morning before informing the team of his decision. The shift in direction comes after Vrabel insisted he wouldn’t make a call until Tannehill, out with an ankle injury, was healthy.

Vrabel declined to discuss the team’s plans moving forward at the position, saying instead he wanted to let Tannehill get healthy before making any definitive decisions at quarterback.

“Will is going to be our quarterback. We are going to go with Will. We think that is the best opportunity for our football team right now,” Vrabel said.

“I think Ryan will progress though here this week. I think, and we’re hopeful (he) can be a back-up here for us and prepare as a starter. That’s where we’re at right now.”

Tannehill, 35, is in the final year of his contract and Levis was expected to be given a chance to win the job. But Tannehill’s second major ankle injury advanced the team’s timeline.

Drafted No. 33 overall in April out of Kentucky, Levis threw for 238 yards and four touchdowns with a 130.5 rating in his first start, resulting in a 28-23 win over the Falcons on Oct. 29. He had seven completions of 20-plus yards at Pittsburgh. Tannehill had two touchdown passes and six interceptions in six starts this season.

“I have a lot of respect for Ryan, personally and professionally,” Vrabel said. “We’ve won a lot of football games here with Ryan. He was a professional (when we talked), but I’ll keep that conversation between him and I and allow him to speak for himself.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 29, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA;  Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) runs as Atlanta Falcons safety Richie Grant (27) gets dragged during the first half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Will Levis throws four TDs in first start, Titans beat Falcons

Will Levis threw four touchdown passes, including three to DeAndre Hopkins, as the Tennessee Titans held off a late surge by the visiting Atlanta Falcons for a 28-23 win.

Levis completed 19 of 29 passes for 238 yards in his NFL start for Tennessee (3-4). Hopkins had four receptions for a team-high 128 yards.

Derrick Henry had 22 carries for 101 yards and added four receptions for 21 yards. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine also added a 33-yard scoring reception to give the Titans a commanding 28-16 lead with 6:59 to go in the fourth quarter.

Atlanta cut the lead to 28-23 on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Heinicke to Scott Miller with 3:46 left to play in the game. But the Falcons (4-4) were stopped on downs on their last possession following a Titans punt.

Desmond Ridder completed 8 of 12 passes for 71 yards before leaving the game due to concussion protocol. He was sacked five times.

Heinicke replaced Ridder and completed 12 of 21 passes for 175 yards.

Bijan Robinson had 11 carries for a team-high 62 yards and a score. KhaDarel Hodge had three receptions for 75 yards, while Drake London added five receptions for 55 yards.

Levis started because Ryan Tannehill was out with an ankle injury.

Atlanta jumped out a 3-0 lead following a Levis fumble inside Tennessee territory on the game’s opening drive, which led to a 29-yard field goal by Younghoe Koo.

Following a forced punt, the Titans grabbed a 7-3 lead with 2:28 to play in the first quarter when Levis connected with Hopkins on a 47-yard touchdown pass.

The Falcons were moving the ball after a punt had them start a drive at their own 7-yard line, but a sack by Jeffery Simmons jarred the ball loose from Ridder and it was recovered by Azeez Al-Shaair at the Atlanta 33-yard line.

Five plays later, Levis hooked up with Hopkins again for a 16-yard touchdown pass, which put the Titans up 14-3.

Two field goals by Koo cut Tennessee’s lead to 14-9 with 3:02 to play in the third quarter, but a Levis 61-yard pass to Hopkins gave the Titans a 21-9 lead entering the fourth quarter.

A 13-yard scoring run by Robinson early in the fourth quarter capped a five-play, 75-yard scoring drive to make the score 21-16 with 14:17 left to play in the game.

–Field Level Media

Tennessee Titans quarterbacks Malik Willis (7), Ryan Tannehill (17) and Will Levis (8) head to the field face the Los Angeles Chargers at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023.

Rookie QB Will Levis preparing to start for Titans

Rookie Will Levis is preparing to start in place of injured quarterback Ryan Tannehill for the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, per reports.

Head coach Mike Vrabel said the Titans split first-team reps in practice Tuesday between Levis and Malik Willis with Tannehill unavailable due to an ankle injury.

“We’ll see where he is at the end of the week,” Vrabel said of Tannehill. “And I would imagine if Ryan can’t play, I would anticipate both of those quarterbacks playing in the football game. But Ryan is off of the roller, or walker, or whatever he had, and we’ll see where he is at the end of the week.”

NFL Network and The Athletic reported Wednesday that Levis would see more time than Willis even if both play Sunday against the visiting Atlanta Falcons (4-3).

The Titans (2-4) used Willis as the No. 2 QB and he played after Tannehill was injured on Oct. 15 in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens. He completed 4 of 5 passes for 74 yards but was sacked four times.

Vrabel acknowledged Tannehill’s current ankle injury is similar to the one he suffered early last season, when he missed two games. Tannehill re-injured the ankle later last season and was placed on injured reserve.

There is some consideration given to resting Tannehill with a short week to follow. Tennessee travels to Pittsburgh to challenge the Steelers next Thursday in the first of three consecutive road games.

But the Titans have been held below 17 points in all four losses with Tannehill.

The Titans drafted Levis 33rd overall in the 2023 NFL Draft with Tannehill, 35, in the final year of his contract.

–Field Level Media

Oct 15, 2023; London, United Kingdom;  Tennessee Titans quarterback Malik Willis (7) passes the ball during the second half of an NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports

Titans to play two QBs if Ryan Tannehill (ankle) can’t play

Ryan Tannehill did not practice with the Tennessee Titans on Tuesday, and head coach Mike Vrabel has multiple backup plans in place for Sunday’s game with the Atlanta Falcons.

Those backup plans are the Nos. 2 and No. 3 quarterbacks behind Tannehill, who only recently ditched a knee scooter to alleviate bearing weight on his injured ankle.

Malik Willis and Will Levis were set to share first-team reps in Tuesday’s practice and would split the QB role on Sunday should the Titans be without Tannehill.

“We’ll see where he is at the end of the week,” Vrabel said of Tannehill. “And I would imagine if Ryan can’t play, I would anticipate both of those quarterbacks playing in the football game. But Ryan is off of the roller, or walker, or whatever he had, and we’ll see where he is at the end of the week.”

Tannehill injured his ankle on Oct. 15 in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The team acknowledged his current ankle injury is similar to the one he suffered early last season, when he missed two games. Tannehill re-injured the ankle later last season and was placed on injured reserve.

There is some consideration given to resting Tannehill with a short week to follow. Tennessee travels to Pittsburgh to challenge the Steelers next Thursday in the first of three consecutive road games.

But the Titans (2-4) have been held below 17 points in all four losses.

Willis is the No. 2 quarterback and presumably would start because of his experience. He played in eight games last season and was 4-of-5 passing in relief of Tannehill against the Ravens. He also was sacked four times.

The Titans drafted Will Levis 33rd overall in the 2023 NFL Draft with Tannehill, 35, in the final year of his contract.

Would it be Willis or Levis with the starters against Atlanta? Vrabel wouldn’t confirm what the QB pecking order might be if Tannehill is held out this week.

“We’ll see what the game plan looks like, and first off see where Ryan is at,” Vrabel said. “We’ll talk about what we may want to do throughout the course of the game. If Ryan can’t play, I expect both of them to play.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 15, 2023; London, United Kingdom; Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) throws the ball against the Baltimore Ravens in the first half during an NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Same injury, different year for Titans QB Ryan Tannehill (ankle)

Ryan Tannehill has an ankle injury similar to what he initially suffered in 2022, Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel said Monday.

With the Titans heading into their bye week, Vrabel said Tannehill “will get treatment around the clock” in the hopes he’ll be ready to face the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 29.

“This will be a big week to see how he progresses and then we’ll make a decision on his availability next week,” Vrabel said.

If Tannehill is not ready in time, Vrabel did not say whether the Titans would start second-year pro Malik Willis or rookie Will Levis at quarterback.

Tannehill left the third quarter of Sunday’s 24-16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in London with a right ankle injury. Willis, No. 2 on the depth chart ahead of Levis, subbed in and went 4-for-5 passing for 74 yards.

Tannehill missed two games last season with an ankle injury, returned, re-injured it and wound up on injured reserve.

He has completed 62.0 percent of his passes this season for 1,128 yards, two touchdowns and six interceptions.

He is the Titans’ starter as long as he is healthy, Vrabel said.

–Field Level Media

Titans quarterback Will Levis gives his new endorsement deal a squeeze.

Pass the mayo: Titans rookie QB signs lifetime deal with Hellmann’s

Titans rookie quarterback Will Levis will be passing the mayo for the rest of his life.

Levis agreed to a lifetime endorsement deal to be a brand ambassador for Hellmann’s Mayonnaise and parent company Unilever, which operates Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Dove and other companies in addition to the spreadable dressing.

Levis’ peculiar use of mayonnaise and general nutritional preferences became national storylines during the buildup to the 2023 NFL Draft, when he was selected in the second round by the Tennessee Titans.

“It’s not every day that someone offers to compensate you in mayonnaise,” Levis said in a promotional marketing video announcement poking fun at his signing. “I’m proud to officially announce that I’ve signed a lifetime supply of Hellmann’s Mayonnaise contract.”

The former Kentucky quarterback, who transferred to Lexington after playing for Penn State, was called out for a social media reference to adding mayo to coffee and eating bananas with the peel intact.

Levis, 24, is currently a backup to Titans starter Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee.

He clarified last spring that he only added mayonnaise to his coffee once as a joke, but the story went viral and continues to take on a life of its own.

–Field Level Media

Tennessee Titans quarterback Will Levis (8) throws during a joint practice with the Minnesota Vikings in Eagan, Minn., Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023.

Titans QB Will Levis questionable for Saturday’s game vs. Vikings

Rookie quarterback Will Levis left Tennessee Titans practice early with an injury, coach Mike Vrabel said Thursday, and his status for Saturday’s preseason game at the Minnesota Vikings is up in the air.

The Titans did not disclose the extent of the injury other than to say it was a lower-body issue. Vrabel said Levis headed to the locker room with trainers late in Thursday’s practice.

The second-round pick (No. 33 overall) is battling Malik Willis for the No. 2 quarterback role behind starter Ryan Tannehill.

In the preseason opener against the Chicago Bears, Willis got the start and went 16-for-25 passing for 189 yards and an interception. Levis followed with a 9-of-14 performance for 85 yards and a pick.

Levis was a popular quarterback prospect coming out of Kentucky, with many analysts projecting him to be selected in the top 10. Instead, he slid out of the first round, allowing Tennessee to draft a player general manager Ran Carthon said they’d targeted.

In 24 games over the past two seasons at Kentucky, Levis racked up 5,233 passing yards with a 65.7 completion percentage, 43 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.

–Field Level Media