It appears that the Titans will have to battle for the AFC South crown without starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
ESPN reports that Tannehill will “very likely” miss the rest of the season after suffering an ankle injury in the Titans’ 17-14 loss to the Chargers.
Tannehill’s injury occurred when Khalil Mack sacked him in the first quarter. The veteran quarterback’s right foot was rolled upon by Mack and appeared to turn awkwardly as he fell to the ground.
Ryan Tannehill was carted off after taking this hit pic.twitter.com/KwA5mplOBJ
— alex (@highlghtheaven) December 18, 2022
After the hit, Tannehill remained down on the field and eventually had to be carted to the locker room. He returned to the game after missing a series and finished the contest with his right ankle heavily taped.
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Tannehill completed 15 of 22 passes during the game for 165 yards and an interception; he also scored a touchdown on a quarterback sneak.
“We are never going to question his toughness or his willingness to get back and help us win,” coach Mike Vrabel said after the game, per ESPN.
Despite returning, it appears that Tannehill, 34, will need surgery to repair his ankle injury, which was an aggravation of a previous malady. He had missed two games earlier in the season because of a right ankle problem.
The Titans haven’t yet ruled Tannehill out for the season by placing him on an injury list. Still, it doesn’t seem that he is likely to play in Week 16 or anytime soon after that.
So, with Tannehill out, the Titans will have to turn to their backup quarterback as they look to lock down the AFC South.
Who is the Titans’ backup quarterback?
Malik Willis is the Titans’ backup quarterback. The rookie was a third-round pick out of Liberty and was the third quarterback selected in the 2022 NFL Draft. He won the team’s backup job in the preseason and started each of the two games that Tannehill missed.
The Titans haven’t exactly trusted Willis much as a passer during his NFL career to date. The raw prospect threw a grand total of 26 passes during his two starts en route to a 1-1 record. He completed 11 of his 26 throws for 135 yards and an interception while adding 52 yards on 13 runs.
Still, the Titans were competitive in each of the raw prospect’s starts. They beat the Texans in Week 8 before losing to the Chiefs in overtime in Week 9.
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Titans QB depth chart
Below is a look at the Titans’ QB depth chart as it currently stands.
As mentioned, Tannehill and Willis are the team’s top two quarterbacks on the depth chart, and Willis will likely start the rest of the way if Tannehill is ruled out.
Behind those two, things get a bit more interesting. The team had Logan Woodside entrenched as its third-string quarterback, but he signed with the Falcons a couple of weeks ago after Marcus Mariota was benched and left the team.
As a result, the Titans have had to pivot to a couple of recent signings — Dobbs and Hogan — as their depth quarterbacks.
Currently, Dobbs is on the active roster while Hogan remains on the practice squad. That would theoretically put Dobbs ahead of Hogan on the depth chart.
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That said, it’s worth noting that the Titans signed Dobbs off the Lions’ practice squad, so they had to put him on the 53-man roster to acquire him.
As such, it isn’t clear whether he or Hogan will be the primary backup to Willis as long as Tannehill is out of action. That will be something to watch Saturday.
Hogan spent parts of the 2021 season and 2022 offseason with the Titans. His familiarity with Todd Downing’s offense may give him an advantage over Dobbs in this backup quarterback battle.
Dobbs has completed 10 of 17 career pass attempts for 45 yards and an interception. He has never made a start while playing for the Steelers, Jaguars, Browns and Lions.
Hogan, meanwhile, started once for the Browns in 2017. The 30-year-old has completed 59.4 percent of his career passes for 621 yards, four touchdowns and seven interceptions.