After 16 starts with Titans, how does Ryan Tannehill compare with NFL's best?

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Ryan Tannehill should be considered an elite quarterback (0:51)

Ryan Tannehill should be considered an elite quarterback. Tannehill has made a strong case for himself over the last 16 games with the Titans and has led their offense to being one of the best in the league. Teammate Derrick Henry referred to Tannehill as the MVP. Video by Turron Davenport (0:51)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- If you were to make a list of elite NFL quarterbacks, Tennessee Titans signal-caller Ryan Tannehill might not be included.

Tannehill, 32, started his first game for the Titans in Week 7 last season, taking over for Marcus Mariota. Tannehill's magical 2019 season featured a 70.3 completion percentage and a 9.6-yard average per attempt -- both career highs. He joined San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana (1989) and Sammy Baugh (1945) of the New York Giants as the only passers in NFL history to complete at least 70% of their passes and average at least nine yards per attempt in a single season, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Tennessee started last season with a 2-4 record but experienced a resurgence after Tannehill took over, leading the Titans all the way to the AFC Championship Game, where they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs. Despite some speculation the Titans would try to woo Tom Brady, Titans GM Jon Robinson was convinced Tannehill should remain their starting quarterback and signed him to a four-year, $118 million contract in March.

But entering this season, there were still doubts on whether Tannehill could sustain that level of play beyond a 10-game stretch.

The Titans are 5-1, and Tannehill has now started a full season's worth of games with the Titans. The numbers show Tannehill has arguably earned a place among the top quarterbacks in the league.

Coordinator Arthur Smith's offense has allowed Tannehill to showcase his playmaking ability a lot more than when he was with the Miami Dolphins.

"The things that he's being asked to do in this offense are different than what he was being asked to do in Miami," Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said before facing Tannehill and the Titans in Week 7.

"The way we run our offense helps everybody. It all works together," Tannehill said. "I am thankful to be a part of this scheme. I love working with Arthur [Smith]. He does a great job preparing us and changing things up, keeping defenses trying to adjust."

Tannehill averaged 12.5 interceptions per season when he was with the Dolphins. He has thrown eight interceptions in 16 starts for Tennessee. In 16 starts for the Titans dating to Week 7 last season, Tannehill ranks among the top five quarterbacks in QBR, completion percentage and touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio. Tannehill's 8.85 yards-per-attempt average over that time span is more than any other quarterback.

ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky believes Tannehill should be considered among the top five quarterbacks in the league.

"His performance and production are," Orlovsky said. "The four main areas you ask are third downs, red zone, the fourth quarter and either execute the scheme flawlessly or go above. He executes at such a flawless level."

It's safe to say Tannehill is effectively executing the Titans' scheme. Tennessee had averaged 16.3 points per game over the first six games in 2019 before Tannehill became the starter. Since he took over in Week 7 last season, The Titans have averaged 29.5 points per game.

Some of the credit for that will rightfully be directed to running back Derrick Henry. If we include playoff games when looking at the last 16 games Henry and Tannehill played together, Tannehill has 36 touchdown passes and Henry has 2,005 rushing yards. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Tannehill and Henry are the only teammates in NFL history with at least 30 touchdown passes and 2,000 rushing yards in a 16-game span.

"MVP, MVP," Henry said of Tannehill. "Let's start the campaign right now. We ain't going to get too high, but MVP, I think he should be that conversation, definitely."

Tannehill has become one of the most efficient quarterbacks, especially in the red zone, where he has thrown 27 touchdown passes in 16 games -- ranking second only to Russell Wilson's 29. In the last 16 games, Tannehill's red zone completion percentage of 77 is tops among all quarterbacks.

But it goes beyond just the personal numbers.

As a team, Tennessee has scored touchdowns on 46 of their 55 trips to the red zone in the last 16 games with Tannehill. Their 83.6 red zone touchdown scoring percentage is easily the best in the NFL over that stretch.

The Titans believe they are never out of a game with Tannehill under center. Since taking over last season, Tannehill has led Tennessee to seven game-winning drives in the fourth quarter, which is the most in the league.

"We always had confidence in him," receiver A.J. Brown said of Tannehill. "He tells us what he wants and he demands what he wants so he can deliver a good ball. MVP stuff. I think he's playing really well right now. Like I said with him, the only thing he cares about is wins. He doesn't care about stats and all that. All he wants to do is win."