It may have been a short week, but Mike Vrabel does not trust rookie quarterback Will Levis. Although the Tennessee Titans fought admirably on Thursday Night Football vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers, they still came up short 20-16 to fall to 3-5 on the season. Vrabel has not had his starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill available for a while now, but all indications suggest he could pivot back to him shortly.
I have to admit that Levis was one of the most criticized quarterbacks entering the 2023 NFL Draft. He had a brilliant 2021 campaign at Kentucky but regressed massively under Mark Stoops when Liam Coen went back to the Los Angeles Rams to be Sean McVay's new offensive coordinator. That did not work out, as Coen is back on Stoops' staff in Lexington after a disastrous year in Los Angeles.
Vrabel spoke with the media on Friday after the Thursday night game. After playing both Levis and 2022 third-round pick Malik Willis in Tannehill's extended absence, you would tend to believe that Vrabel will go with his guy the rest of the way as soon as Tannehill is healthy. Right now, Tannehill may be the better player, but this would be a disservice to Levis to not let us see what all he is capable of.
Levis may be a boom-or-bust pick in the second round, but his obvious upside cannot be ignored.
Levis may have been so-so vs. the Steelers, but he and DeAndre Hopkins lit up the Atlanta Falcons.
Mike Vrabel may go back to Ryan Tannehill as soon as he is healthy to play
Look. From a coaching standpoint, I totally understand this. Tannehill may give the Titans the best chance to win now, but he is not a long-term solution for Tennessee going forward. You have to remember that all three other division rivals have their quarterback for the future: Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville, C.J. Stroud in Houston and an injured Anthony Richardson in Indianapolis, if you will...
Not to say Levis is going to be as good as any of them, but he throws a great deep ball and takes good coaching well. His personality may be a tad goofy, but he has a cannon and is very athletic. If Tennessee bombs this season, like many people expect that the Titans will do, then they could be in a position to select someone like a Bo Nix, a J.J. McCarthy or a Michael Penix Jr. inside of the top 16.
However, if you don't know what you have in Levis, then you find yourself in a situation like the Falcons are currently in. They only got four starts out of Desmond Ridder a year ago because they pivoted off Marcus Mariota too late. Ridder is okay, but he is not looking like a long-term solution in Atlanta, as he was benched in favor of journeyman Taylor Heinicke midway through the Falcons' road loss last week.
I may be proven wrong here, but Levis being an unknown is more intriguing than a known in Tannehill.