Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill said he was in a “dark place” after the divisional-round loss to the Cincinnati Bengals last season.
Tannehill’s three-interception effort in the game played a primary role in the Titans’ early playoff exit, promoting strong criticism. With its first No. 1 seed in 13 years, Tennessee needed just two wins to reach the Super Bowl.
Tannehill called the Bengals game a “deep scar.”
He’d been doing therapy for a while, but “absolutely needed it” this offseason.
“You prepare so long and so hard to put yourself in a position to go chase your dreams and to play beneath the standard I have for myself: It stung, it hurt,” said Tannehill, speaking to reporters Tuesday for the first time since the Bengals game Jan. 22.
“There were a lot of sleepless nights. Every time I closed my eyes, I was re-watching the game in my head. Didn’t get a whole lot of sleep for weeks and weeks after the game. Was in a dark place. It took me a while and a lot of work to get out of it. It wasn’t something that went away easily. It’s a scar I’ll carry with me throughout the rest of my life, you know?
“But just like a cut on your arm, it starts off as a wound. You’re able to heal from it and it turns into a scar. It never leaves you, but it’s always there and it can remind you. Now, it’s fuel for me. Fuel for me to work and get ready with a passion. Come into this season with a fire and a desire to win like I’ve never had before.”
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Asked what he would say to those who question his ability to lead the Titans to a Super Bowl, Tannehill said everyone is entitled to an opinion, but he has the utmost confidence in himself.
Tennessee drafted Liberty star Malik Willis, his potential successor, in the third round of this year’s draft.
“I have a personal desire to go win,” said Tannehill. “I love winning. I love competing with my teammates. I love the work that goes into preparing and the payoff that you do get when you do win. So that’s what I’m going to do. Attack every day like I always have with a little more passion, a little more fire. Excited to go out this season and play my best ball.”
Tannehill added that he was “shocked” to lose star receiver A.J. Brown via trade. He referred to the 2020 Pro Bowler as a good friend. He thought the deal moving him to the Eagles was a “bad dream” and slept terribly that night.
Ultimately, though, he’s excited about the potential of new target Treylon Burks – the 18th pick in the draft – and the other new pieces the team will look to incorporate in 2022.
“Every year is a new journey,” said Tannehill. “It’s a new opportunity to build a new team. We’re adding new pieces. I’m excited about Treylon, a guy who has a lot of traits and characteristics that I think fit our team well. Had some great conversations with him. Excited to add him to the mix.
“I am tight with A.J., going to miss him. But also excited to add Treylon and what he brings. … It’s just a matter of getting him up to speed and getting on the same page. It’s going to take a lot of work, a lot of effort from everyone: myself, coaching staff, Treylon. And the rookies. It’s not just Treylon. There’s a bunch of guys we’ve added. It’s every year. It takes a lot of effort, intentionality and time. But if we do it right, we’ll be able to build a team and go win games in the fall.”
Ben Arthur covers the Tennessee Titans for The USA TODAY Network. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @benyarthur.