The Tennessee Titans will open their 2015 preseason on the road in Atlanta Friday night. The game starts at 6:00pm central time, and will be broadcast nationally on the NFL Network. Locally, the game can be seen on WKRN (channel 2), and heard on 104.5 the Zone (fm).
Alas…the first scouting report of the season. This week’s edition…the Atlanta Falcons.
The Titans and Falcons were mirror images last season…to the point of being eerily similar. Both teams opened the 2014 season with victories, only to lose six of their next seven games. Both teams had their bye week after eight games, and both teams were 2-6 at that point.
Neither team recovered.
Another striking similarity between the two was their mutual ineffectiveness in the run game, on both sides of the ball, in 2014.
The Falcons ranked 24th in rushing, the Titans 26th. Stopping the run? Wow…Tennessee gave up the second most yards (137 ypg), while Atlanta gave up a league worst 21 rushing touchdowns. As you can imagine, both teams are looking to turn that around, and establish some early chemistry on the ground against the other.
Both teams addressed their pass rushing woes from a year ago by bringing in high profile outside linebackers. Atlanta drafted Vic Beasley with the 8th overall pick, and Tennessee brought in three time Pro Bowler Brian Orakpo. Both will be heavily counted on to create pressure in the backfield this season.
Atlanta decided to go in a different direction at head coach and brought in Dan Quinn, who made his name in Seattle heading the league’s best defense the last two years. Quinn’s 4-3 scheme provides an intriguing challenge to Marcus Mariota, who has only practiced against Tennessee’s 3-4 defense so far.
Likewise, Mariota provides an intriguing challenge to Quinn, who has no professional tape on the rookie. Pay close attention to the chess match between Mariota and Quinn in the first quarter.
Tennessee hasn’t won a game since last October, and the Falcons’ rookie head coach would love nothing more than to get his first win at home.
With both teams looking to create a culture of winning, expect a more spirited effort Friday night, more spirited than preseason openers usually warrant.