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2019-10-16 23:39:49

Erik Bacharach Nashville Tennessean

Published 5:18 PM EDT Oct 16, 2019

NASHVILLE — After another lifeless performance by his offense, Titans coach Mike Vrabel deemed it time for a change.

The Titans need an offensive spark, Vrabel said three days after he benched Marcus Mariota in favor of Ryan Tannehill in a 16-0 loss to the Broncos. Tannehill was informed in a meeting Tuesday afternoon that he would start Sunday (3:05 p.m., CBS) against the Chargers (2-4).

Just felt like now was the time, Vrabel said. Sitting in the game, sitting where I was, made the decision during the game and just was able to think about it, evaluate it, and move forward and make a decision.

Mariota was pulled in the third quarter against the Broncos after throwing his second interception. Tannehill entered and moved the offense better, though still couldn’t get the Titans on the scoreboard.

The Titans have mustered just seven points in the past 10 quarters.

For an offense that is failing on all fronts, Tannehill, whom the Titans traded for this offseason before signing him to a one-year deal, hopes to inject some life.

Go out and produce, Tannehill said.  Make plays. Take advantage of the opportunities that are there. Don’t try to do too much. Really just play quarterback to the best of my ability. I think if we move the ball and score points, that spark will be there.

Tannehill has gotten reps almost exclusively with the second team, meaning practice this week will be critical for the 31-year-old as he looks to get on the same page with the rest of his offensive teammates.

It’s huge,” Tannehill said. “I haven’t gotten a ton of reps up to this point, so the ability to go through the walkthroughs, to go through the practice reps and just be on the same page with everything we do, communicating with the offensive line, being on the same page with receivers, it’s huge. Like I said, trust is an impeccable part of this process. Really just have to work through this week, take advantage of every opportunity, every practice rep, every chance to get to talk through something, and be ready to go on Sunday.

Mariota, in the fifth and final season of his rookie contract, heads to the bench, but Vrabel wouldn't say definitively that there's no chance of him winning back the starting role.

I wouldn't rule anything out, Vrabel said. This is the decision that we made for this week. We're going to need Marcus in some form or fashion throughout the season, but I think the most important thing is this week.

Tannehill, the No. 8 overall pick in 2012 who spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Dolphins, came to Nashville having started all 88 games he had appeared in during his NFL tenure.

Adjusting to the role of backup was something completely new for Tannehill. His role now is something familiar.

I think just part of the responsibility of the backup is to kind of know your role and navigate that through meetings, through time on the practice field, Tannehill said. And sometimes you do have to hold your tongue and not speak up when you want to. So now I'm really just able to be me, lead the way I want to lead and speak up and hold guys accountable.

Reach Erik Bacharach at ebacharach@tennessean.com and on Twitter @ErikBacharach. 


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