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|NASHVILLE Valtteri Filppula Jersey , Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans won their first playoff game in 14 years in a thrilling rally from 18 points down on the road.
Then they fired coach Mike Mularkey once the postseason run ended in an ugly rout.
Yes, expectations are very high in Tennessee where consecutive 9-7 seasons with Marcus Mariota just didn’t cut it, not with an offense that didn’t get the most out of the young quarterback.
Now the Titans have first-year head coach Mike Vrabel with his three Super Bowl rings as a linebacker in New England in charge of a roster that needed only a little tinkering in the offseason.
“Now we’ve just got to pick up where we left off,” linebacker Brian Orakpo said. “It’s not a rebuilding stage, we just reloaded essentially.”
This is the 20th season for this franchise since dropping the Oilers’ nickname for the Titans, and they capped that debut season with a run to their lone Super Bowl appearance in Atlanta. The Titans unveiled redesigned uniforms in April and are hoping for another trip to Atlanta — site of this season’s Super Bowl.
Three-time Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker said they have plenty of motivation from how their last playoff berth ended in a 34-14 loss to New England .
“It didn’t sit well with me,” Walker said. “I think everybody in that locker room felt the same way. I worked as hard as I could this offseason.”
Some things to know about the Titans, who open the season Sept. 9 at Miami:
FIRST-TIME COACH: For so many years, Vrabel was seen as a sure winner once he became an NFL head coach.
Now the man who played 14 seasons and was an assistant coach for four more will be making all the big decisions on his own. Vrabel has tried to prepare himself by watching tape from games over the past decade to decide what he would do in specific situations. Everything from tossing a challenge flag to deciding whether to go for it on fourth down will be a first for Vrabel this season, with fans and critics watching closely.
“My playing career is going to help us win zero games Authentic Ezekiel Elliott Jersey ,” Vrabel said.
MARIOTA TIME : The Titans already have picked up the fifth-year option on Mariota, and that $20.9 million for 2019 could prove a great deal if offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur’s offense helps the quarterback look like the Heisman Trophy winner he was at Oregon. Mariota is going to get to run and throw more in an offense the Los Angeles Rams used to lead the NFL in scoring last season. Mariota is coming off his worst season, having thrown more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (13). But he enjoyed a rehab-free offseason and looks faster playing without a knee brace.
DEFENSIVE CHANGES: Legendary coordinator Dick LeBeau is gone, replaced by another longtime success in Dean Pees. The Titans did so much right under LeBeau, ranking fourth against the run and tied for fifth in sacks.
But they were 17th in points allowed and 25th in yards passing given up. That’s why general manager Jon Robinson signed cornerback Malcolm Butler and drafted linebackers Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry to shore up remaining holes.
He also replaced safety Johnathan Cyprien when he was lost to a torn ACL with another veteran in Kenny Vaccaro in training camp.
YOUNG RECEIVERS: This position easily is the biggest question for the Titans. Veteran Rishard Matthews missed the entire offseason and the preseason with an undisclosed injury. Corey Davis is expected to be the top guy; the fifth pick overall in 2017, he didn’t catch his first touchdown pass until the playoff loss in New England — against Butler. After Davis, there are young and unproven receivers in Taywan Taylor and Tajae Sharp. That makes Walker so valuable with his 356 catches since 2013, most by any tight end.
NEW BACKFIELD DUO: The Titans released DeMarco Murray in March , and it’s now time for Derrick Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner Womens T. J. Watt Jersey , to show his skills after leading the team in rushing last season despite only two starts. They also signed Dion Lewis to a four-year deal to give Mariota another dangerous receiving threat and a change-up to the powerful Henry .
TOUGH START: Five of their first eight games are on the road, including the franchise’s first trip to London to play the Chargers on Oct. 21. The first month isn’t kind, with Houston and the defending champion Eagles visiting, along with a trip to Jacksonville. If the Titans survive, four of the final five games are in Nashville, where they went 6-2 last season.
Nick Foles could end up playing a new position when Carson Wentz comes back if he keeps this up.
Foles caught another pass in a clutch spot to spark a sputtering offense that looked out of sync and the defense picked up right where it left off last time it faced Atlanta.
After seeing their "world champions" banner unveiled, the Philadelphia Eagles took the first step toward trying to become the first team to repeat in 14 years by stopping Matt Ryan to Julio Jones on the final play again in an 18-12 victory over the Falcons on Thursday night.
Foles hardly looked like Super Bowl MVP until coach Doug Pederson called his number in the third quarter when the offense needed a spark. Foles caught a 15-yard pass from Nelson Agholor to extend a drive that ended with Jay Ajayi scoring the first of his two touchdown runs.
"It's great to have it at the right time if you can catch a team (off guard)," Foles said. "Everybody loves a good trick play."
Foles caught a 1-yard TD pass from tight end Trey Burton in the first half of Philadelphia's 41-33 win over New England in the Super Bowl. Foles asked Pederson on the sideline if he wanted "Philly Philly" but called the play "Philly Special" in the huddle. This one was "Philly Philly" and Pederson said he borrowed it from New England's playbook. Tom Brady dropped that pass.
"Offensively, we were sort of misfiring a little bit," Pederson said. "Just were looking for a big play Zay Jones Jersey , somebody to make a play. It felt like the right time."
If the Eagles need any help at receiver once Wentz is cleared to play after knee surgery last December, Foles is ready to go.
Well, not really.
A sloppy, mistake-filled game that featured 26 penalties came down to Ryan throwing an incomplete pass to Jones in the left corner of the end zone on the final play from Philadelphia's 5.
Jones couldn't come down with Ryan's pass from the 2 in the right corner of the end zone in Atlanta's 15-10 loss in the divisional round in January.
"It was deja vu," said cornerback Ronald Darby, who covered Jones on the last play this time around instead of Jalen Mills. "Jones is one of the best but we got the stop."
A weather delay pushed kickoff back 45 minutes, forcing fans to wait a bit longer for the championship ceremony. Wearing his gold Hall of Fame jacket, former safety Brian Dawkins riled up the sellout crowd with owner Jeffrey Lurie by his side and led a chorus of "Fly Eagles Fly."
It was the most excitement for a while on a hot, muggy night that seemed more like an August preseason game than a playoff rematch. Both teams looked rusty after many starters didn't play much in preseason.
Here are some things we learned from the game:
RED ZONE WOES: The Falcons were 1 for 5 in the red zone after struggling inside the opponents' 20 last year. Second-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian spent plenty of time in the offseason trying to improve the team's scoring efficiency. Jones only had three TD catches last season. He had 10 receptions for 169 yards but didn't score.
"It's never discouraging," Jones said/ "We just got to keep working http://www.indianapoliscoltsteamonline.com/al-woods-jersey , stick together and make plays and get things called down there."
Jay Ajayi had 62 yards rushing on 15 carries. His 11-yard TD run and 2-point conversion gave the Eagles a lead with 2:25 left. Ajayi ran in from the 1 on the drive Foles made the catch.
"I knew I would have a good day if I just stayed being myself and being the Jay Train," Ajayi said.
Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks had 1陆 sacks in his first game since rupturing his Achilles tendon last October. Hicks also committed a penalty on fourth down that allowed the Falcons to have one more play at the end but the defense bailed him out.
"The ability to get back out there and have fun and celebrate and have passion no matter the play, it feels good," Hicks said.
Falcons safety Keanu Neal left the game with a knee injury in the first half but coach Dan Quinn said it doesn't appear serious. Long snapper Josh Harris had his streak of 103 consecutive games played end because of a hip injury.
Wentz, who hasn't been medically cleared for contact, threw passes and did other drills while wearing a brace on his left knee during warmups.
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