One of the more overblown exchanges between media and players this offseason had to be Ryan Tannehill‘s comments about mentoring the Titans’ rookie third-round pick Malik Willis. However, on the surface, the statement wasn’t exactly encouraging.
“We’re competing against each other,” Tannehill said of Willis. “We’re watching the same tape, we’re doing the same drills. I don’t think it’s my job to mentor him, but if he learns from me along the way then that’s a great thing.”
Obviously, you’d like your starting quarterback to be a leader and take anyone under his wing, but this was completely overshadowed by several other follow-up comments from both sides.
“His job is to prepare to help us win a bunch of games and be a great teammate and help out,” Mike Vrabel stated later. “And I know that he’s going to do that. So that was not any sort of issue for me.”
“What comment?” Willis added during the same media session. “Oh, man, we chopped it up. I mean, it was never anything negative. Ryan’s a good dude. Like I said he had us over to the house. Everything’s cool.”
Still, the articles calling Tannehill a bad teammate aren’t exactly that far off. I wouldn’t go as far as calling him a bad teammate, but as the leader of a team that has consistently melted down in the playoffs, being petty about a third-rounder who has no shot of unseating him this season is unsettling.
On the other side of things, the Falcons’ rookie Desmond Ridder will seemingly have a much smoother flow of information from Marcus Mariota.
“He’s been great about working with Desmond (Ridder) and Feleipe (Franks),” quarterbacks coach Charles London said. “It’s not his job, but that’s just the type of guy he is. He’s a great teammate; he’s willing to do whatever he can to help the team, and guys follow his lead.”
“I have kind of always felt that way. I’m going to help all these young guys out,” Mariota said. “You get to kind of be a part of their molding and help them shape what their professional career can be. I look forward to that. I think it’s going to be pretty cool to have a little bit of influence.”
It looks to be a very calculated move by Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot to bring Mariota in as the stopgap. Firstly, he’s well-versed in Smith’s system. Secondly, he was going to be an excellent leader and mentor for whichever rookie quarterback the Falcons ended up drafting.
Tannehill and Mariota are in very different situations, though, so that plays a part. The former is on a lucrative deal that hasn’t been able to get his team over the hump in the postseason, leading to calls for his job flooding in this offseason. In comparison, the latter is just happy to have a chance to compete for a starting job again. It makes sense that Mariota would do everything in his power to be a team-first guy. Tannehill is just trying to win in January.