The New England Patriots got blown out by the Tennessee Titans in one of their worst losses in recent years last season and will be looking for revenge here in this preseason match. We should hopefully get to see Tom Brady’s 2019 debut here, which will be interesting. Both teams picked up wins in their preseason openers, with the Patriots topping the Lions while the Titans beat the Eagles.
Patriots Dominate Lions
The Patriots are coming off yet another Super Bowl victory. Things got a bit shaky last season and the team had a bit more drama than usual, but things still worked out in the end. Tom Brady had another fantastic season, and the reported tension between Brady and Bill Belichick clearly didn’t make much of a difference.
People have been predicting Brady’s decline for years now, but so far nothing has materialized. As the Patriots retool for a run at another championship, this year’s team will look a little bit different. Star pass-rusher Trey Flowers and starting left tackle Trent Brown both left in free agency, and legendary tight end Rob Gronkowski retired. Defensive coordinator Brian Flores also left to become the coach of the Dolphins. The Pats looked dominant as ever in their first preseason game, demolishing the Lions by a score of 31-3. Brady didn’t play in that game, and considering he’s 42 with nothing left to prove, he likely won’t play much at all here.
The Patriots only have two other quarterbacks on the roster, which means we’ll see a lot of Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer in this one. Stidham, the rookie from Auburn, looked pretty good, as did Hoyer. New England’s defense dominated, limiting the Lions to just 93 total yards. They dominated Detroit’s offensive line, racking up nine sacks. Their top receiver was undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers, who had six catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns. He’s been drawing rave reviews in camp, so it wasn’t too surprising. New England dominated just as much as you possibly can in a preseason game, and it’ll be interesting to see how they follow up a performance like that.
The Titans had a decent season last year, and you have to give Mike Vrabel some credit. In his first year as head coach, he managed to go 9-7 despite dealing with a mountain of injuries. The team came up just short of the playoffs, but that was likely due to having to start Blaine Gabbert at quarterback in their biggest games of the season. Marcus Mariota has been frequently hurt and inconsistent during his time as the Titans’ starter, so they brought in Ryan Tannehill as insurance. They now have one of the league’s best backup signal-callers, but it also is creating a bit of controversy and could prove to be an unwanted distraction.
“Having Ryan in our room has been a tremendous addition,” Mariota said. “That competition, year in and year out for me, is with myself. I just look to be the best version of myself, but Ryan adds a guy who has done it, has experience, can talk about things we see in practice. Even today, different things the Patriots are doing, just being able to communicate and be there, be another set of eyes for each other. But when it comes down to it I am just competing against myself. I just try to be the best version that I can be, day in and day out.” Mariota on having Ryan Tannehill on the roster.
Tannehill shined in the preseason opener, and the Titans certainly don’t want him breathing down Mariota’s neck at every turn if they’re going to have a successful season. This is a make or break year for Mariota as he enters the final year of his contract, and he needs to prove he deserves an extension. After Tannehill got a lot of buzz following the opener, Mariota should be highly motivated to come out here and quiet any whispers about who should be leading the team. Not many teams have backup quarterbacks as good as Tannehill, which is a huge asset when it comes to winning preseason games. Third-stringer Logan Woodside also looked very competent in the opener, completing 15 of 20 passes and throwing two touchdowns.