The Tennessee Titans’ 2015 preseason opponents were released yesterday, and everyone assigned with the task of turning this team around should give a collective thank you to the football gods. Not only did Tennessee draw the perfect quartet of opponents, but the order in which they play the opponents is especially key.
In short order.
Week 1: @ Atlanta Week 2: St. Louis Week 3: @Kansas City Week 4: Minnesota
Now, on the surface I totally agree with your premise that preseason success…or lack thereof…can not be used as an accurate barometer for regular season success. But the Titans have not exited an NFL stadium in victory in 180 days…and counting.
Neither have their fans.
After 10 straight losses to end 2014…it will be tough to sell hope (tickets) to fans if the team gets swept this August. So it’s absolutely paramount that the Titans not only show signs of improvement, but also win a couple of these games.
Good news: This preseason schedule is tailor made for a fragile franchise and fan base.
To start things off the Titans play at Atlanta. Key word being at. I’ve always been told there’s no place like home….unless of course you’ve lost 11 of your last 14 games there.
Having a home opener could be a hindrance to this team. There were more bad times than good at LP Field last year, and a home opener would make for an extremely tense environment.
Especially if the team struggles.
Playing on the road alleviates that pressure. You’re the enemy anyway, so you can be loose and just play. Any boos you hear would be a good thing. Either you got the benefit of a bad call…or you’re playing so well that the fans are booing the Falcons.
Plus, the Titans caught a break by playing in a dome at least once this preseason. Tennessee has three road games against quality dome teams (Indianapolis, Houston, New Orleans) this season. Having the opportunity to work on your offensive audible and silent counts while live bullets are flying is valuable teaching tool.
Week 2 the Titans return home to host Jeff Fisher and the St. Luis Rams.
Dec 21, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher looks on during the second half against the New York Giants at the Edward Jones Dome. New York defeated St. Louis 37-27. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
This game is all about the fans. Jeff Fisher has no connection with the current Titans roster, but he sure does with the people of Nashville. Many of which did not want to see him go. The game is also nationally televised, and will be aired on FOX.
The atmosphere inside of LP Field will be electric that night. I fully expect a sellout crowd.
The Titans players should feel jacked, as they’ve rarely heard that stadium when it gets to rockin. And do not be fooled, Jeff Fisher is coming to town to win. His players will be jacked too. A great tune up for their dress rehearsal, and the perfect atmosphere to re-introduce yourselves to the fans.
I suspect a regular season type of effort from both teams.
Week 3 the Titans travel to Kansas City for the NFL’s annual dress rehearsal weekend. Simply put, that’s the one game where both team’s starters play into the third quarter. The game that most closely resembles the real thing.
Kansas City is a perfect litmus test for said rehearsal. Arrowhead Stadium is always bananas, one of the most hostile environments in the league. The Chiefs have a massive line and a stout defense. Coming away with a win, or at least a quality showing from the starters, would put a glow of optimism in the air as the season approaches.
For the fans, that will hopefully be the day that the Titans unveil their week 1 starter. I say hopefully because their best chance of success is having a quality qb on the roster to push Mettenberger for the job.
Tennessee wraps up the preseason with a home game against Minnesota. Few, if any starters will play for either team that night, so at least the game is at home. Not having to travel that final week could make for additional prep time for their week 1 opponent.
As a whole, Tennessee catches a break by the sheer quality of their opponents. No Juggernauts to face in August. The only Pro Bowl caliber qb the Titans will face is Matt Ryan, and he’ll only play a few snaps for Atlanta in week 1. Conversely, Tennessee’s starters may play more than most because they are still learning a new system.
A perfect preseason schedule to evaluate your roster, while regaining the good feeling of winning. For a fragile psyche…all wins count.