Davis Webb’s binders are becoming legendary, with the New York Giants backup quarterback recently telling NJ Advance Media that he has kept info dating all the way back to middle school.
Well, as it turns out, Webb is not the only Giants’ quarterback who keeps a ridiculous stack of binders. Journeyman Alex Tanney is also a stockpiler of binders, telling me that he has “a closet full of every playbook I’ve ever been in.”
In the NFL alone, that would mean double-digit binders for the 30-year-old Tanney. After all, the Giants are his eighth team in an NFL career that began in 2012. Consider multiple coaching staffs in some of those stops and “voila!” — double-digit binders.
“Davis talks about it a lot, and I do the same thing,” Tanney told me recently while standing inside the Quest Diagnostics Training Center practice bubble. “Putting everything in binders based off the systems he’s been in and that’s something that I’ve always done.”
Yes, he’s THAT Alex Tanney!
Let’s get this out of the way now. Yes, he’s that Alex Tanney! From the viral 2011 quarterback trick shot video. Here it is, in case you haven’t seen it. Or, just want to see it again.
The video is part of Tanney’s story. He knows it, acknowledges it and doesn’t mind talking about it. Still, he and I didn’t even discuss it until our interview was done and I kiddingly mentioned to him that we had made it to the end without discussing it.
I was, to be honest, more interested in Tanney’s NFL journey. Where it’s taken him, how and why he ended up with the Giants, where he will end up in the future.
Tanney’s excellent NFL adventure
That’s a crazy nine NFL stops and eight teams for Tanney since entering the league in 2012 as an undrafted free agent out of Division III Monmouth, where he obliterated school passing marks and set the Division III record for career passing yards.
It’s been a ping-pong ball of a career, and along the way Tanney has only played in one game — going 10-of-14 for 99 yards, a touchdown and a 114.9 passer rating in a 2015 Week 17 game for Tennessee.
“Hopefully that’s not how the story ends,” he said.
Tanney seems grateful for his career, limited opportunity or not.
“I didn’t really have the intention of, hey, I’m going to go on and play in the NFL. I was given an opportunity and it’s something I always wanted to do,” he said. “I’ve always loved the game, loved talking ball. I love being around it, I know I want to coach when I’m done. To be able to talk football all day, play football and get paid to play football is a dream come true and I hope I can keep doing it as long as I can.”
Putting down some roots
Despite the seemingly vagabond nature of his career, Tanney did manage to put down some roots in Nashville, Tn. His second stint with the Titans lasted from December of 2015 until the end of April, when Tennessee cut him. His home is there, along with his wife, Rebecca, and 11-month-old son, Gunner.
In 2016, he even chose to stay in Tennessee — and on the practice squad — over an opportunity to go and be on the 53-man roster of the Cleveland Browns. The Browns went 1-15 that year and used five quarterbacks, so it’s likely Tanney would have gotten some coveted playing time.
Still, no regrets.
“It’s not really something I had thought about. I had spent time in Cleveland in 2013,” Tanney said when I asked him about it. “Me and my agent discussed it, I discussed it with my family. We felt like it was the best thing to do was to stay in Tennessee and continue to work with that staff and organization. To be honest with you I don’t think I’ve regretted that decision at all.”
The Case Keenum comparison
Case Keenum’s career is pretty much the Holy Grail for any undrafted quarterback. Shoot, pretty much any undrafted player.
Keenum entered the NFL the same year Tanney did. While both were undrafted, Keenum had the advantage of a record-setting career at Division I Houston, while Tanney was a kid from a DIII school.
Keenum was getting opportunities to start games by his second year, led the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship Game a year ago and signed a two-year, $36 million contract this offseason ($25 million) guaranteed to be the starter for the Denver Broncos.
Does Tanney ever wonder why he’s never gotten the chance Keenum received, and has now taken advantage of?
“Sometimes you look at it that way. A lot of times in this league for an undrafted guy it’s right place, right time. Obviously he’s (Keenum) very talented and had an awesome season last year,” Tanney said.
“The way I go about my preparation is like I’m going to start and play. If you don’t have that mindset you’re not going to last real long in this league.”
Can he last with the Giants?
After being cut by the Titans this spring, Tanney quickly found work with the Giants. Look at the depth chart, though, and unless there is an injuryt it’s fair to wonder if there is any real chance Tanney will be a Giant once the preseason ends.
Eli Manning is, of course, the starter. Davis Webb and Kyle Lauletta are young, drafted players who figure to fill the second and third spots. Webb is the likely backup and Lauletta is a player the Giants would almost certainly lose if they were to try and pass him through waivers to the practice squad.
So, where does Tanney fit?
“I learned very early on in my career to not look at the roster or the depth chart or where you stand in line. I’ve been a bubble guy and a journeyman my whole career. If I can contribute anything in that quarterback room I try,” Tanney said.
“I don’t have a lot of playing experience but I have a lot of experience with different systems and different coordinators. I’ve seen a lot of film. The biggest thing is taking what we talk about in the meeting room and translating it to the practice field and showing the coaches that I can go out there and operate in the system and have success.”
And if he doesn’t have enough success to stick with the Giants.
“Whatever happens, happens. There’s always 31 teams watching,” he said.