The Tennessee Titans are having a fever dream of a season and look every bit the part of a playoff team. Veteran mediocre quarterback Ryan Tannehill was inserted into the starting lineup for Marcus Mariota in Week 7 and has set the world on fire, winning six of seven and playing at a level few believed he could play at. Or even a level few in NFL history have managed to play. It's true:
Again, this is Ryan Tannehill we're talking about.
On Sunday he completed 21-of-27 passes for 391 yards and three touchdowns as the Titans hung 42 points on the Raiders. A week ago he was 17-of-22 for 222 and two scores in a comeback victory over Indianapolis. And two weeks ago Tannehill went 14-for-18 for 259 yards in a rout over Jacksonville.
One time is a fluke. Twice is a coincidence. Three times and the New York Times style section does a trend piece on you.
Tannehill, long resigned to the back of the quarterback rack, is trending up. He's come out of nowhere to lead the league in yards/attempt, yards/completion, net yards/attempt and quarterback rating. Pause and consider the caliber of signal-callers in the league right now and the historic years some are having. All are looking up to Tannehill in that department.
He's also using his speed. The former wide receiver has rushed for 147 yards and three scores, which doesn't even take into account all the times he's extended plays.
It's a strange reality we live in, but worth coming to grips with. So sit down for this. If Tannehill had been the starter since Week 1 and played at this level, it could be he leading the MVP race. We could be sitting here soberly debating his merits against those of Russell Wilson and Lamar Jackson.
Embrace the weird. Enjoy the ride. Where Tannehill and the Titans end up this year, no one knows.