NASHVILLE— When former Steelers coach Bill Cowher visited Saint Thomas Sports Park back in January, he saw a lot of things he liked.
The Titans were on their way to the AFC Championship Game at the time, led by a dominant running game and a defense that limited its first two postseason opponents to 13 and 12 points, respectively.
A lot of things stood out for Cowher, including quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
"He looks like a guy who has his confidence back," Cowher said of Tannehill. "When you watch him, you see he is playing loose and I think he is continuing to grow as a quarterback. Ryan came into the National Football League with one year at the quarterback position and with high expectations. He is still understanding the game, and the longer you're in it, the better you are going to be.
"I think Ryan now has a better grasp, and a greater feel, for the concepts of this game than he's ever had. And that has created a lot of confidence. And he is in a very good system."
The Titans signed Tannehill to a new multi-year deal on Sunday.
Tannehill led the NFL with a 117.5 rating in 2019, and he guided the Titans to a pair of playoff wins – at New England and Baltimore – and into the AFC Championship Game.
Tannehill, who made the switch from receiver to quarterback while at Texas A&M, threw for 2,742 yards with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions during the regular season in 2019. He guided the Titans to a 9-4 mark, including playoffs, since taking over as the team's starter in Week 7.
Tannehill was the eighth overall pick of the Dolphins in the 2012 NFL Draft. After seven seasons in Miami, he was traded to the Titans last March and began last season as Marcus Mariota's back-up.
"I think Ryan is in a good system, and I definitely think he can sustain it," said Cowher, now an analyst with CBS. "I think this system in Tennessee really fits him and I think a lot of pressure is off him after being a high draft choice -- and he was supposed to be the savior and next Dan Marino in Miami. Sometimes I think it is good to get a second chance and now he has that in Tennessee and it's going well for him."
Tannehill, of course, hopes to keep it going.
Tannehill was named Comeback Player of the Year by the Associated Press following the 2019 season, when he set the franchise mark for completion percentage (70.3%), a mark that was third-best in the NFL.
In addition to the AP award, Tannehill was also selected as both the 2019 NFL Comeback Player of the Year and the 2019 Most Improved Player of the Year by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).
"I just stick to my process that I've been doing," Tannehill said of his success in 2019. "I kind of figured out what's best for me, and my routine as far as getting ready to go, and the routine during the season probably five years ago or so. It's just about sticking to the process, picking up things along the way. But, just working. Stay true to who you are, stay true to what you believe in, work extremely hard and don't look back. Obviously, you never know what's going to happen, but I know if I stay true to what I believe in, how I work, how I prepare, and believe in the guys around me that good things are going to happen."
A look back at QB Ryan Tannehill's 2019 Pro Bowl season that saw him complete 201-of-286 passes (70.3%) for 2,742 yards, 22 touchdowns, and an NFL-leading 117.5 passer rating. (Photos: Donald Page).