Last year’s 2nd-overall pick, QB Marcus Mariota, brings his young Titans team to Detroit this Sunday.
After an exciting victory over Indianapolis last weekend, the Lions come home to Ford Field to play another AFC South opponent in the Tennessee Titans. The Titans are a talented team without much experience at key positions. The Lions beat the best quarterback in the division last week, barely outscoring Andrew Luck. Despite showing an explosive offense, Detroit’s below-average defense nearly cost them the game. So, let’s take a look at what to watch for this weekend in the Lions’ home-opener.
Week 2 – Home against Tennessee Titans
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Sunday, September 18th: 1:00 PM EDT
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) celebrates after a touchdown reception against the Tennessee Titans at MetLife Stadium. The Jets won, 30-8. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
The Titans got of to a slow start against a physical Vikings team, losing in their opener. After many years in what was considered a weak division, the AFC South has become one of more talented divisions in football. The Jaguars are everyone’s preseason favorite. The Texans upgraded at quarterback, running back and wide receiver. And we all saw how talented Luck was last week. The Titans have a lot to prove this season to show they aren’t the worst team in the AFC South.
Head Coach: Mike Murlarkey
Mike Murlarkey was a hold-over from the previous Ken Whisenhunt staff. He was formerly head coach for the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Not everyone was thrilled about the hiring – similar to Ken Whisenhunt – after he flamed out as a head coach at previous stops. Murlarkey is an offensive specialist, with an old-school mentality as a head coach. He likes to run the ball and he likes to utilize his tight ends. Murlarkey already had the respect of his players as assistant head coach, which is why management opted to keep him on rather than bringing in an outside hire.
Quarterback: Marcus Mariota
Quarterback Marcus Mariota had a great first game last season, throwing 4 touchdowns in a win over 1st-overall pick, Jameis Winston. Unfortunately for Marcus, the team fell off and ended up with the worst record in the league. Mariota is viewed very differently around some NFL circles. Some see him as a do-it-all quarterback you can mold into almost any system. Others look at him as a guy that you have to tailor your entire system around for him to be successful. Good coaches tend to do that anyway, in my opinion. I think his future is bright in what’s becoming a quarterback-heavy division.
Tennessee did a good job of building a running game behind Mariota. They drafted Jack Conklin, Heisman winner – Derrick Henry, and added DeMarco Murray to help take pressure off the passing game. Mariota has potential to play well, especially if Detroit’s defense plays as bad as last weekend. The Titans want to control the clock and it all starts with running the ball.
They have a quarterback that has his moments, but Mariota is not the player Matthew Stafford is at this point in his career. They have some pieces on defense but they aren’t quite elite either. Shaun Hill looked pretty good against them, which is certainly a good sign Detroit. They have lots of young talent on their offensive line, but it still needs to come together.
This is a game the “same old Lions” would lose 9 times out of 10. They have a young quarterback, an underrated defense, and a bad taste in their mouth after last week’s loss to Minnesota. On paper, this looks like a fairly easy home-opener but I’m betting it will be a close game. I like the Lions to win 31-28, in a game that ends up being much closer than it should have been.