Ryan Tannehill should not be expected to mentor Malik Willis

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Tennessee Titans
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Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill made waves on Tuesday by saying it’s not his job to mentor rookie quarterback Malik Willis.

And it’s not Tannehill’s job to mentor Malik Willis.

It’s Tannehill’s job to be the best quarterback for the Titans that he can be. It’s his duty to himself and his family to maximize his talents, abilities, and earning potential. Why would he help groom the man who undoubtedly would love to replace him?

Did Tom Brady mentor Jimmy Garoppolo? Did Brett Favre mentor Aaron Rodgers? Did Joe Montana mentor Steve Young?

That’s just not how it works, not unless the circumstances are conducive to an obvious passing of the baton, and the starter is on board with it. In college or high school, that’s easier to achieve. At the NFL, it usually isn’t.

Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner injected himself into the story on Tuesday, tweeting this: “I will never understand the ‘I’m not here to mentor the next guy‘ mentality . . . so for all you young QBs that need a mentor, DM me & Ill be that guy, happy to help in any way I can!”

What if Tannehill isn’t ready to concede that Willis is the next guy? What if Tannehill, who is still only 33, intends to stick around for more than the four years of the rookie contract Willis will sign?

Before injecting himself into someone else’s situation, Warner needs to remember his own experience as the veteran who was expected to defer to “the next guy.” In 2004, Warner wasn’t happy with the fact that he was benched for then-rookie Eli Manning after leading the Giants to a 5-4 start.

“My play yesterday I don’t think had anything to do with that,” Warner said when he was benched after a 17-14 loss to the Cardinals. “Read into that as much as you want, but there is a bigger picture here. There’s more things that are trying to be accomplished here, and that’s why the decision was made.”

Maybe Warner mentored Eli too well.

Regardless, no NFL starter who intends to keep that job indefinitely should be expected or inclined to help his understudy become good enough to take over. While it may be good for the team, in some cases a player’s extreme commitment to team results in the player no longer having a job.

10 responses to “Ryan Tannehill should not be expected to mentor Malik Willis

  1. Doesn’t matter what he does or doesn’t do. He’s lost the fanbase.

  2. It’s ridiculous how upset this made people. I get it, it’s easy as a fan to be like “mentor him, for the team” or whatever, but they drafted Willis to potentially take his job. Anyways, he said that it would be great if Willis learned from him, but people only like to focus on what they perceive to be the negative thing. Anyways, I bet he’d be happy to answer any questions Willis has. Besides, Tannehill isn’t a coach, just like Montana wasn’t Young’s coach, Favre wasn’t Rodger’s coach, Brady wasn’t Garoppolo’s coach, etc. People have to remember this is still their jobs, they don’t have to go above and beyond to help someone take their job, just like we wouldn’t.

  3. There’s mentoring but there’s also being a good teammate. If Tannehill wants the Titans to win games, he’ll help the kid instead of saying ‘not my job.’

  4. It’s his duty to himself and his family to maximize his talents, abilities, and earning potential. I think you forgot the team. Funny you left that out in a sport that is considered the ultimate team sport.

  5. tannehill knows his time is ticking. Mobile QBs are the new wave, no more clay feets

  6. Maybe it should be up to Willis to watch how Tannehill prepares, conducts himself then emulate his behavior. As for the X’s & O’s, mechanics, etc…that’s why the team has a head coach, offensive coordinator and I believe the Titans have a QB coach as well.

  7. Great job communicating the QB pick to Tannehill, Titans! This is going to end poorly. Clearly the front office is over Tannehill, and is doing their best to make it awkward for everyone involved… Tannehill telling people he’s not a mentor is a shot aimed at the front office and the building acrimony between the two.

  8. nnagi says:
    May 4, 2022 at 7:55 pm
    Warner still trying to be relevant in 2022

    he’s won a ring, won super bowl mvp , leage mvp, the WP man of the year award, is a hall of famer, and is on TV talking about football.

    You may not agree w his stance,but I’d say he’s pretty relevant in 2022.

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