Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was traded to the Titans from Miami in 2019, started the season as a backup and, after being elevated to starter after Tennessee opened with a 2-4 record, led the Titans to the AFC playoffs, was selected as both the 2019 NFL Comeback Player of the Year and the 2019 Most Improved Player of the Year, chosen in voting conducted by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).
Tannehill became the second player since the Most Improved Player of the Year award was instituted in 2000 to receive both the Most Improved and the Comeback Player of the Year awards in the same season, Joining Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna, who won both in 2003. The Comeback Player of the Year award was instituted in 1992.Embed from Getty Images
Tannehill started 11 games for Miami in 2018, but missed five games due to a shoulder injury. He threw for a career-low 1,979 yards and passed for only 17 touchdowns for the Dolphins, after missing the 2017 season with a knee injury. On March 15, 2019, the Titans acquired Tannehill in a trade as a backup to Marcus Mariota. Tennessee struggled to a 2-4 start, and Tannehill moved into the starting lineup in Week 7 at home vs. the Los Angeles Chargers. He threw for 312 yards, two touchdowns and led the Titans to a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter in a 23-20 victory that was the start of a 7-3 stretch that propelled the Titans to the AFC playoffs. Tannehill, who played in 12 games and started 10, finished the season 201 of 286 passing (a career-high 70.3 completion percentage; third in the NFL), 2,742 yards, a league-leading 9.6 yards per attempt, 22 touchdowns (his most since 2015), only six interceptions and he also rushed for four touchdowns. His 117.5 passer rating led the league, was the fourth-highest season rating in league history and was the highest mark by a veteran quarterback in his first season with a new team. He was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week in Week 14.
Tannehill is the first member of the Titans franchise to receive either the Comeback Player or the Most Improved Player of the Year honor.
2019 COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: QB Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
2019 MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE YEAR: QB Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
PFWA COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: 1992 – QB Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia Eagles; 1993 – RB Marcus Allen, Kansas City Chiefs; 1994 – QB Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins; 1995 – QB Jim Harbaugh, Indianapolis Colts; 1996 – RB Jerome Bettis, Pittsburgh Steelers; 1997 – WR Robert Brooks, Green Bay Packers; 1998 – QB Doug Flutie, Buffalo Bills; 1999 – DT Bryant Young, San Francisco 49ers; 2000 – DE Joe Johnson, New Orleans Saints; 2001 – RB Garrison Hearst, San Francisco 49ers; 2002 – QB Tommy Maddox, Pittsburgh Steelers; 2003 – QB Jon Kitna, Cincinnati Bengals; 2004 – RB Willis McGahee, Buffalo Bills; 2005 – WR Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers; 2006 – QB Chad Pennington, New York Jets; 2007 – WR Randy Moss, New England Patriots; 2008 – QB Chad Pennington, Miami Dolphins; 2009 – QB Tom Brady, New England Patriots; 2010 – QB Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles; 2011 – QB Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions; 2012 – RB Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings; 2013 – QB Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers; 2014 – TE Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots; 2015 – S Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs; 2016 – WR Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers; 2017 – WR Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers; 2018 – QB Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts; 2019 – QB Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans.
PFWA MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE YEAR: 2000 – QB Jeff Garcia, San Francisco 49ers; 2001 – QB Kordell Stewart, Pittsburgh Steelers; 2002 – QB Chad Pennington, New York Jets; 2003 – QB Jon Kitna, Cincinnati Bengals; 2004 – QB Drew Brees, San Diego Chargers; 2005 – DE Osi Umenyiora, New York Giants; 2006 – RB Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers; 2007 – QB Derek Anderson, Cleveland Browns; 2008 – RB DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers; 2009 – WR Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys; 2010 – RB Arian Foster, Houston Texans; 2011 – WR Victor Cruz, New York Giants; 2012 – WR Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys; 2013 – WR Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears; 2014 – RB Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers; 2015 – (tie) QB Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins and CB Josh Norman, Carolina Panthers; 2016 – LB Vic Beasley, Atlanta Falcons; 2017 – QB Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams; 2018 – TE George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers; 2019 – QB Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans.
ABOUT THE PFWA: In its 56th season in 2019, the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) is the official voice of pro football writers, promoting and fighting for access to NFL personnel to best serve the public. The PFWA is made up of accredited writers who cover the NFL and the 32 teams daily. Bob Glauber, the national football columnist for Newsday, is the organization’s president for the 2018-20 seasons. The Athletic’s Lindsay Jones is the PFWA’s first vice-president, The Athletic’s Dan Pompei is the PFWA’s second vice-president and The Athletic’s Mike Sando is the PFWA secretary-treasurer. At-large members include ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold, ProFootballtalk.com’s Charean Williams, Sports Illustrated’s Jenny Vrentas and USA Today’s Mike Jones. Follow the PFWA at ProFootballWriters.org and on Twitter at @PFWAwriters.