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Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill may not be rolling out the red carpet for his potential successor, 2022 third-round draft pick Malik Willis.
Tannehill told reporters Tuesday that “I don’t think it’s my job to mentor him” in reference to the rookie QB:
Paul Kuharsky @PaulKuharskyNFL
Tannehill stood up to a range of questions pretty well. One thing likely to draw scrutiny is that he said “I don’t think it’s my job to mentor” Malik Willis. #Titans.
The comments have quickly drawn a level of criticism:
Ryan Clark @Realrclark25
I see Ryan Tannehill is on his “Not my job to mentor” energy. It’s not, but man it makes you a good teammate. You can win without your QB being a good teammate but better for the team if he is. What a leader! Guess the Steelers’ DBs had it all wrong taking time w/ rookies & 💩
Tannehill isn’t the first nor will he be the last veteran quarterback to bristle at the idea of helping to groom his likely replacement.
Ben Roethlisberger said in 2018 he was “surprised” the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Mason Rudolph in the draft and added he wasn’t all that interested in mentoring the incoming QB.
Brett Favre’s relationship with Aaron Rodgers as his Green Bay Packers tenure drew to a close was thorny. Tom Brady effectively sabotaged the New England Patriots’ plans to turn the offense over to Jimmy Garoppolo. Joe Montana said in 2013 his “job with Steve [Young] was basically to make sure he stayed behind me” in the San Francisco 49ers’ depth chart.
Tannehill’s thoughts aren’t exactly what the Titans probably want to hear, though.
Scouting Willis for Bleacher Report, Nate Tice described the former Liberty star as “more of a toolsy player than a viable starting NFL quarterback at this point in time” who “will be a big project for whichever NFL team selects him—albeit a fun project .”
Willis almost certainly won’t overtake Tannehill this season, and the same could be true for 2023, which is the final year of the 33-year-old’s contract. The 2019 Pro Bowler’s status within the offense won’t be threatened if he goes out of his way to help Willis’ transition to the NFL.