MIAMI – Ryan Tannehill is headed toward the Super Bowl, just not the way he envisioned it.
After playing in Sunday's Pro Bowl, Tannehill planned to return to his home in the Fort Lauderdale area, not far from the site of Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium. Tannehill knows the area will be abuzz all week.
The Titans quarterback, who spent his first seven NFL seasons playing in South Florida with the Dolphins, admits it won't be easy. The Titans came one win away from being San Francisco's opponent in this year's Super Bowl, but their AFC Championship Game loss to the Kansas City Chiefs kept it from happening.
"It is hard, man," Tannehill said after the Pro Bowl on Sunday. "Even being (at the Pro Bowl), it has been a lot of fun. But in the back of my mind, every day I was thinking, 'Man, I wish I was preparing to play (in the Super Bowl).' We did so much, but we came up short, and we were so close, so it's tough. But you just have to keep moving on.
"It is going to take some time to get over that. It is going to be a long time, obviously. It will be on my mind a lot the next week or so as the Super Bowl approaches."
Tannehill was a big reason for the memorable season in Tennessee.
During the regular season, Tannehill threw for 2,742 yards with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions while guiding the team to a 7-3 mark after replacing Marcus Mariota as the starter in Week 7. He engineered wins over the Patriots and the Ravens in the playoffs before the loss to the Chiefs.
Tannehill was 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) after leading the NFL with a 117.5 rating in 2019.
Now, he once again finds himself with some uncertainty, less than a year after being traded from the Dolphins to the Titans -- his one-year deal with the Titans is up.
Tannehill said he wants to return to Tennessee, but he knows there will be some anxious weeks ahead.
"I think it will work out the way it's supposed to," Tannehill said as he packed his belongings at Camping World Stadium. "There is stress involved – you never know what is going to happen. A lot of things have to happen to get it nailed down. If it doesn't happen then I'll head to free agency and we'll see what happens there. Who knows what is out there on the horizon? I'll just try not to stress out about it and believe that it will work out the way it is supposed to and try and make the best decisions along the way."
Earlier in the week, Tannehill said he'll lean on his faith, and those around him.
"I do know I love the (Titans) organization, I love the team, I love the guys on the team, and I love the tone coach (Mike) Vrabel sets, and the vision that he has," Tannehill said. "I feel like we're headed in the right direction.
"I'd like for things to line up and I'd like to be back (in Tennessee) if it all gets worked out, but you never know what is going to happen. So you have to try and mentally prepare for that as well, what else can happen. We'll just have to see. But hopefully we can get things worked out and keep building on what we did this year."
In the meantime, Tannehill said he plans to let himself recover from the 2019 season, and the roller coaster that led up to it.
Free agency kicks off in March, and offseason programs across the NFL begin in April.
"I think it's important to step away and get away from football a little bit -- mentally and physically, you just need to recover," Tannehill said. "It's a long, grinding season, and going straight from the season, the playoff run, the AFC Championship and straight to the Pro Bowl, it has been pretty non-stop since late July. So just being able to step back and mentally and physically recover, let the body heal up from little things that came up during the season, you work through those and take some time and then it will be 'get ready for next year.'
"We'll see what happens with the contract and where I end up, but physically it is just a matter of getting yourself ready to go and you start training and throwing so you can be ready to go once April hits."
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).