After a few poor seasons in a row, both the Tennessee Titans and Atlanta Falcons are looking to start over in 2015. Tennessee is looking to do so with what they hope to be their quarterback of the future, while Atlanta made a number of changes in the offseason, chief among them was hiring Dan Quinn to be their new head coach.
The two teams kick off their 2015 preseason at the Georgia Dome on Friday night.
Both teams are coming off seasons that saw them miss the playoffs and finish well below .500. Tennessee tied for the league’s worst record, winning just two games and posting their worst record since the franchise moved from Houston nearly 20 years ago. But losing 14 games might turn out to be a blessing, since it allowed the Titans to select Marcus Mariota with the No.2 pick in the draft.
Even after winning the Heisman Trophy in his final season with Oregon, there have been questions surrounding how Mariota will perform in the pros. He’ll get his first chance to answer those questions on Friday, but the early signs have been encouraging.
“Is he more than I expected?” Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt told Sports Illustrated last week. “I don’t know what I expected. Is he further along than where I thought he’d be at this point? Yes, he is, and that’s a credit to him and the way he’s working. The best way to say it is the things he’s comfortable with he executes well and he plays fast. ”
The Titans also made some big changes on defense, hiring Dick LeBeau to be an assistant coach. The team also signed free agent linebacker Brian Orakpo, who could be an important addition if he stays healthy.
Atlanta is bringing back much of their starting offense. Matt Ryan will be under center on Friday night, at least for a few plays. Julio Jones and Roddy White should see some time on the field, as well, after combining to catch 184 passes for 2,514 yards in 2014.
But the offense wasn’t a biggest reason why Atlanta won just six games last year. The team ranked eighth in total yards, but dead last in yards allowed. Quinn will coach the team after helping the Seattle Seahawks be the NFL’s best defense for two years in a row, and the Falcons are hoping he’ll have a similar effect on Atlanta.
Even though the game doesn’t count in the standings, the first-year head coach is looking for the Falcons to show something on Friday night.
#Falcons HC Dan Quinn wants to see his team's style of play come out tonite - ball-hawking D, zone run game, downfield shots on offense
— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) August 14, 2015
Tennessee beat Atlanta in Week 3 of last year’s preseason. They’ll meet again in Week 7 of the 2015 regular season.
Start Time: 7 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NFL Network
Online Stream: nflnonline.nfl.com
Betting Line: Atlanta-2