NASHVILLE – Ryan Tannehill returned to Saint Thomas Sports Park this week, and a lot has changed in the last few months.
The Titans quarterback spoke to reporters for the first time since the night of the team's season-ending playoff loss to the Bengals, and he addressed a big batch of topics, including the departure of receiver A.J. Brown and the arrival of quarterback Malik Willis.
Tannehill also admitted it's been tough getting over the end of last season. He said he used therapy to help.
"It's a scar, it's a deep scar," Tannehill said of his three-interception game against the Bengals, and the loss. "It was a lot of sleepless nights. Every time I closed my eyes, I was re-watching the game in my head. I didn't get a whole lot of sleep for weeks and weeks after the game. I was in a dark place, and it took me a while, and a lot of work to get out of it. It wasn't something that went away easily, and it's still a scar I'll carry with me throughout the rest of my life."
Tannehill said he's worked through a lot of the pain after what he considered a sub-par performance from himself.
"Therapy, talking to people, time (all helped)," Tannehill said. "It was tough. It was not a situation you want to be in. You prepare so long and so hard to put yourself in a position to go chase your dreams, and to go out and play beneath the standard that I have for myself, it stung, it hurt. Like I said, a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of reflecting, re-watching the game over and over again in my head. It took a lot of work to get through it. It wasn't a day, it wasn't a week, it was weeks and weeks and weeks to get through it."
Tannehill said he's started to heal, with "a lot of sessions." Tannehill said he used therapy previously, "but I think this is the first time I absolutely needed it to pull me out of a dark place."
And now, he said, the scar "is fuel for me to work and get ready with a passion, and come into this season with a fire and desire to win like I've never had before."
Tannehill also tackled a number of other questions:
-Tannehill said he was shocked when the team traded receiver A.J. Brown to the Eagles, because he thought a long-term deal would get done in Tennessee.
"That one hurt," he said. "Professionally it hurt, a top target, heck of a football player. He made big plays for us consistently over the last three years. Personally, it hurt – A.J. is a good friend. … Not being able to see him on a daily basis is going to be different, and it is going to be hard. I am happy to see him get what he wanted, but at the end of the day, it hurts."
-Tannehill said he missed the first few weeks of the team's offseason program to spend time with his family in Florida, where he was working on a renovation, among other things.
Tannehill made it clear he was working when he was in Florida, and he'll work in the coming weeks with his teammates on the field and in meetings rooms.
"Just because I was home doesn't mean I was relaxing," Tannehill said. "I'm working, I'm throwing, I'm running. I'm getting myself physically and mentally ready to go."
-Tannehill said he's excited about first-round pick Treylon Burks.
Tannehill talked with the former Arkansas receiver over the weekend after the team drafted him 18th overall.
"He's a guy who has a lot of traits and characteristics that I think fit our team well," Tannehill said. "I am excited to add him into the mix. … I think he has a lot of things that can help us."
-Tannehill said veteran receiver Robert Woods has been great to work with already.
"I am really excited about Robert," Tannehill said of Woods, formerly with the Bills and Rams. "He's a good dude, talented player, a veteran player who has played a lot of football and knows the game really well. You talk to him and you can feel his passion, and his energy.
"I am excited to go watch tape with him after this session here. He's a guy I am looking forward to getting to know even better. I think he fits what we're all about here."
-Tannehill also welcomed quarterback Malik Willis to the team with a text.
Willis, who played at Liberty, was drafted in the third round over the weekend.
"I wasn't informed of that beforehand," Tannehill said of Willis being selected. "But same thing as A.J. – the team is going to do what they think is in the best interest of the team, and I have no problems with Malik. We are looking to add talent, and guys that can help us. We'll add him to the room and go from there."
-Tannehill said he met new Passing Game Coordinator Tim Kelly on Monday.
"I have been on the field with him a couple of days now," Tannehill said. "He's a veteran coach, knows the game really well. He is coaching hard out there and is very involved with what we are doing, so I am excited to have him on board. Any time you can add a good quality coach, it's going to help you."
-Tannehill was asked what he'd say to those who question whether he can lead the Titans to the Super Bowl.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion," he said. "But I have the utmost confidence in myself and know I have everything it takes. I know I am going to come this year with a fire and a passion, like I have talked about, and attack this season and know that I have to go play my best football in January.
"I have the utmost confidence in myself, and I think my teammates have confidence in me. And at the end of the day, that is all that matters to me."