With Ryan Tannehill’s struggles on Saturday, which AFC South team is in the best position at quarterback moving forward?
Even with superstar running back Derrick Henry back just 11 weeks removed from foot surgery for the AFC Divisional Round against the Cincinnati Bengals, the top-seeded Tennessee Titans are heading home after a one-and-done performance.
Cincinnati pulled off the upset with a game-winning field goal as time expired, and that drive was set up by an interception from quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the final minute. That was one of several costly mistakes Tannehill made in the game, as he completed just 62.5% of his passes and tossed three total interceptions while throwing just one touchdown.
It was the latest big-game let-down from Tannehill, who threw just 21 touchdowns to 14 interceptions this season. He’s under contract for two more seasons on a deal that will pay him north of $25 million in each of the next two seasons.
With the best team in the division struggling with the most important position, it begs a question: Do the Jags have the best quarterback situation in the AFC South heading into 2022?
It may seem like a wild assertion given Trevor Lawrence’s struggles as a rookie. He completed less than 60% of his passes and despite throwing for 3,641 yards, he had just 12 touchdowns to 17 interceptions. But he also showed many promising signs, and though the team needs to build around him, there may not be another team in the division that feels better about the quarterback spot in the long- term.
Indianapolis acquired Carson Wentz last offseason, and though the former second overall pick had a solid season statistically, he struggled down the stretch, especially in a season finale loss to Jacksonville that cost his team a spot in the playoffs. It seems like the Colts may be looking for a way to move on from Wentz, and unless the team strikes gold in either the Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson sweepstakes, it may be in a bad spot at quarterback next season.
Houston, meanwhile, has an absolute mess on its hands with Deshaun Watson. Even if the star quarterback can revive his career after 22 women came forward with allegations of sexual assault against him, he has almost certainly played his last game for a Texans team that he had already demanded a trade from before the allegations came to light.
Houston is, however, the only team in the division other than Jacksonville that may have the long-term solution at quarterback on the roster. Davis Mills, a third-round pick from Stanford and Houston’s first pick in the draft, wasn’t expected to start as a rookie. But an injury to Tyrod Taylor forced him into action, and he had the most productive season of any rookie with 16 touchdowns to 10 interceptions and an 88.8 passer rating on the season.
However, it’s fair to question how high the ceiling is with Mills and exactly how much upside he has as a prospect. He certainly wasn’t regarded as a talent on par with Lawrence (or the four other first-round quarterbacks, for that matter) but Houston just may have found its answer for the post-Watson era.
The Jaguars need to see a lot more from Lawrence in 2022 to be certain that he’s the franchise quarterback fans hope he will be, but with the rest of the division facing just as many questions at the position, they could be well-positioned to compete in the coming years if they can build around Lawrence.