One thing that stuck out to me during the Titans second preseason game was the ability of Alex Tanney. After watching the game again -- **hot take alert** -- I'm convinced that Tanney should be the QB2 behind Marcus Mariota instead of Matt Cassel.
Cassel was brought in as the veteran presence behind Mariota and was slotted to be the backup this season. He was even called a potential "mentor" to Marcus Mariota. I figured he was a lock to make the team, but what I didn't see coming was Alex Tanney looking just as good, if not better than Matt Cassel.
Tanney dazzled during his time with the reserves, looking calm under pressure and getting through his reads quickly. When the play wasn't there, Tanney improvised by scrambling out of harm's way or simply throwing the ball out of bounds. As a backup quarterback, doing these little things and simply keeping your team in the game is task #1.
Before we look at what Tanney did this weekend, let's remember what he did against the Colts last season in week 17. He took over a completely stagnant offense in the second half and immediately took them to points. It was the beginning of the end for Zach Mettenberger -- who got benched in favor of Tanney.
Tanney ended the day 10-14 for 71 yards and a touchdown. He actually got the Titans back in the game, manufacturing ten points after taking over down two scores.
This pre-season, Tanney has kept up the good work. He does his best Brett Favre impersonation here, rolling out of trouble and hitting Justin Hunter deep for 27 yards. Watch his eyes pop back downfield once he escapes pressure. He then delivers a strike on the money.
One key element that sets Tanney apart from Cassel is his athletic ability. He's got just enough to keep you guessing. This is a key third down play mid-field. Tanney scans, but sees a crease up the middle. Easy first down. Again -- it's all about doing the little things and keeping the chains moving.
Tanney never looked out of control on Saturday. He was able to get through his reads and appeared to have a nice understanding of where all of his receivers were going. Watch him stand in the pocket and get through his reads here. It's a zone look and Tanney fires this pass into McBride at just the right time. Notice the down and distance again.
I'm not sure if the Titans really view this as a "battle," but it's worth noting the difference in contracts.
Keeping Tanney over Cassel would save roughly 700k in cap space this season, which isn't a huge deal. However, Tanney is six years younger and could probably provide some stability behind Mariota.
Tanney has at the very least matched Cassel's performance this pre-season, which would be enough for me send Cassel packing. At this point, you know what Cassel is. He peaked back in 2011 with Kansas City and has proven to be a below average back-up since then. I'm not saying Alex Tanney has starting potential, but I do like his upside more than Cassel's.
If I had to bet, I'd say there's about a one percent chance of this actually happening. Cassel probably gets the "veteran" and "experienced" bump despite being largely ineffective for the past three seasons. Tanney has two more games to prove himself though. As of right now, he's at least sparking some conversation.