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Barring unforeseen circumstances, Ryan Tannehill will be the starting quarterback for the Titans in 2023. At the very least, the 12-year veteran will be QB1 on the depth chart for Week 1 of the regular season.
From there, it is entirely up in the air. Who will serve as Tannehill’s backup?
Tennessee was able to snag Malik Willis in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft after the hype surrounding the former Liberty signal-caller created the possibility that he could go in the first round. It was always going to be a project pick with high upside and a pretty deep floor.
Unfortunately, Willis’ first action in the league did not go well at all. His 1-2 record as a starter last year was low-lighted by a 50.8% completion percentage on 61 pass attempts with three picks and no touchdowns.
Things went so poorly for Willis that the Titans benched him and turned to Josh Dobbs. Not ideal.
The start of Willis’ tenure led the organization to question its future at the position. So much so that Tennessee traded up to draft Will Levis with the No. 33 overall pick in 2023 after the Kentucky quarterback’s slide out of the first round.
Tannehill is the present. Willis and/or Levis are/is the future.
That is the hope, at least.
Who will takeover at quarterback for the Titans?
In an ideal world, there is still time to figure out who will replace Tannehill after he becomes a free agent at the end of this season at the age of 35. Willis and Levis will work alongside each other this fall and battle it out during OTAs and training camp next summer.
For now, though, Tennessee needs to list one of them as the No. 2.
Throughout OTAs, it was Levis who stood out. Willis was reportedly struggling to the point that some thought he might not even make the roster. It was a bit premature to jump to such conclusions.
Now, two+ months later, the pendulum has swung in the other direction.
Levis was strong out of the gates.
Willis, apparently, has been even stronger.
Head coach Mike Vrabel said that there has been “glaring improvement” from the 2022 third-rounder.
Both Willis and Levis will get significant reps during the preseason. It is the perfect opportunity to let them loose and see who stands out.
However, only one of them can be the backup and right now that is the second-year quarterback— not the rookie.
Willis was listed as the No. 2 on Tennessee’s first depth chart of the season.
Considering where he was just a few months ago, the swing is a big surprising. Levis was getting all of the love while Willis was at risk of sitting third on the depth chart or falling off all together.
The Titans get their NFL preseason underway against the Bears on Saturday. They’ll get the Vikings next weekend and the Patriots to close things out.
Willis and Levis’ backup battle is the biggest storyline to watch!