The Tennessee Titans haven’t had great quarterback fortune since the team officially formed in 1999. Before then, things weren’t much better. Here are the five best signal-callers in franchise history; we’ll be including the Houston Oilers years as well, since it’s all technically a singular franchise, and frankly, it’s needed to get through this list.
5. Vince Young, 2006-2010
Young is the definition of a college football legend, leading Texas to the 2006 BCS National Championship. Titans fans were elated that he fell to the third overall pick, thinking that they had found their franchise QB. But Young never found the same success in the NFL, and was out of the league after just six seasons. With Tennessee, he went 30-17 as a starter, throwing for 8,964 yards, 46 touchdowns, and 51 interceptions, and adding 1,380 yards and 12 scores on the ground.
He did lead the Titans to the playoffs in 2007, and was the cover athlete for Madden NFL 08, but that was about it for his NFL career. The fact that Young is a top-five QB in Tennessee history isn’t great, but things do get better on this list.
4. Marcus Mariota, 2015-2019
Drafted second overall in 2015, there were serious discussions pre-draft about whether or not Mariota was a better prospect than Florida State’s Jameis Winston. That QB class was hyped up, but ultimately neither player earned a second contract from their original team. Mariota dealt with injuries over his five seasons in Tennessee, starting a total of 61 games, going 29-32. He passed for 13,207 yards, 76 touchdowns, and 44 picks, and rushed for 1,399 yards and 11 TDs.
The Titans did make it to the divisional round of the playoffs in 2017, but Mariota never lived up to his ceiling. He wasn’t bad, just not the kind of player you want when selecting a QB extremely high. He is now backing up Derek Carr with the Oakland Raiders, in hopes of getting another chance to start at some point in the future.
3. George Blanda, 1960-1966
Blanda played a total of 26 seasons in the NFL, and seven of those were with the Oilers, long before Bud Adams envisioned the creation of the Tennessee Titans. He started 82 games, going 44-38, and threw for 19,149 yards, 165 touchdowns, and 189 interceptions. He initially retired after the 1958 season, but returned after one year off to join Houston, one of the original teams in the newly formed AFL. He made three consecutive Pro Bowls, as well as an All-Pro team in 1961. Blanda led the Oilers to the championship game in each of his first three seasons, winning the first two, which, to this day, remain the franchise’s only championships. Blanda was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1981, having played in four decades, and was the NFL’s all-time leading scorer when he retired for good (he now ranks seventh). Oh, and he also played kicker.
2. Warren Moon, 1984-1993
Moon entered the 1978 NFL Draft, but was not selected. He signed with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League, where he won five consecutive Grey Cups (the CFL’s Super Bowl) and set multiple passing records over his six seasons.
The NFL took notice, and when Moon announced his intentions to join the league, multiple teams were interested. Hugh Campbell, Moon’s coach for five seasons with the Eskimos, was now in Houston, and that’s where Moon ended up. In 10 seasons with the Oilers, preceding the creation of the Titans, Moon threw for 33,685 yards, 291 TDs, and 233 INTs. He made six All-Pro teams (and another three with the Minnesota Vikings) and was the 1990 Offensive Player of the Year. Houston went 70-69 with Moon under center, making six straight playoff appearances, but never advancing past the second round. Moon was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006, despite beginning his NFL career at the age of 28.
1. Steve McNair, 1995-2005
The third overall pick in 1995, McNair was, at the time, the highest-drafted African-American QB in NFL history. He sat and learned behind Chris Changler for his first two seasons, taking over full-time in 1997, the franchise’s first season in Tennessee. He wasn’t great right away, but he did lead the newly-minted Titans to the Super Bowl in 1999, and the team fell just inches short of winning it all.
McNair spent nine years as Tennessee’s starter, going 91-62 and throwing for 27,141 yards, 156 touchdowns, and 103 picks. He also ran for 3,439 yards and an impressive 36 touchdowns. McNair’s Titans teams made the playoffs four times, and he ranks seconds in franchise history in passing yards, passing touchdowns, games started by a QB, and first in career wins.