Former Liberty quarterback Malik Willis has seen his rookie season in the NFL come to an end. The third round draft pick of the Tennessee Titans finished the year completing 31 of 61 passes (50.8%) for 276 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions while being sacked 10 times. He also rushed 27 times for 123 yards and one touchdown.
It was a disappointing first year for the Liberty star in Nashville. He started three games during the season, with a 1-2 record as a starter, but was benched for Josh Dobbs the final two weeks of the season as the Titans tried to secure a spot in the NFL Playoffs.
In the preseason, Willis beat out Logan Woodside to become the backup quarterback for the Titans entering the season. Willis saw playing time in one game early in the season behind Ryan Tannehill before Tannehill was sidelined for two games during the middle of the season with an injury.
Willis would make his first start in the NFL against the Houston Texans, helping lead the Titans to the win. He completed 6 of his 10 passes for 55 yards and 1 interception while rushing for 12 yards in the game. The very next week, Willis again got the starting nod, this time on Sunday Night Football against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Willis kept the Titans in the game against one of the top teams in the NFL in the Chiefs. Ultimately, Willis and the Titans would fall in overtime. Willis completed 5 of 16 passes for 80 yards and rushed 8 times for 40 yards in the loss.
Tannehill would return to the lineup for the Titans moving forward, and he had the team in position to secure a playoff spot going into the stretch run. The veteran quarterback would be injured once again though, as Willis made his third career start in Week 16 doing so against the Texans for a second time.
The Titans would lose this game as Willis threw 14 of 23 for 99 yards and 2 interceptions. He did rush 7 times for 43 yards and got into the end zone for his first carer touchdown.
After the disappointing loss, the Titans made the decision to turn to Josh Dobbs to make the final two starts of the season. Dobbs, who was signed by the Titans in late December off the Detroit Lions practice squad, had some success but was unable to help lead the team to a win and into the playoffs. Tennessee finished the year 7-10 overall and lost their last seven games of the season.
It will be interesting to see how the Titans handle their quarterback room moving forward. Tannehill is nearing the end of his contract in Tennessee. It seems incredibly early to be giving up on the third round pick in Willis already, but Josh Dobbs has made a strong case for the Titans to keep him around in the future. Will Tennessee keep three quarterbacks active? It will be an important and compelling offseason for the former Liberty quarterback.