It’s easy to wonder which quarterback will make the biggest impact on Sunday’s game between the Titans and Dolphins. Ryan Tannehill? Marcus Mariota? Luke Falk?
Yes, Falk, a fourth-string rookie who won’t even play, has altered preparations by both teams. Miami signed him last week after he was released by Tennessee on cutdown day, and the Dolphins are sure to pick his brain about the Titans’ scheme under rookie coach Mike Vrabel.
All of which lends another layer of unpredictability to the season opener.
Here are things to know about two teams who didn’t excite preseason prognosticators.
Ryan Tannehill returns after missing the Dolphins’ past 20 games, and says he’ll be ready rather than rusty. He’s coming off reconstructive knee surgery that wiped out his entire 2017 season, and says he never doubted he would be ready for the 2018 opener.
“I always felt confident that this would be where we ended up,” he said. “It’s finally here and I’m ready to go.”
While Tannehill has never played in the postseason, counterpart Marcus Mariota is trying to become the first quarterback to lead the Titans to the playoffs in back-to-back years since Steve McNair in 2002-03.
That will require proving wrong the oddsmakers who predict Tennessee will win eight games. Miami, led by third-year coach Adam Gase, is widely projected to repeat last year’s 6-10 record.
While Falk will be able to provide the Dolphins some insight into Sunday’s matchup, Vrabel says it could have been worse.
The Titans’ new coach wanted to install the entire offence during training camp, but offensive co-ordinator Matt LaFleur – mindful the team would have to waive some players – talked him out of it.
“He wanted to hold some stuff,” Vrabel said. “I said, ‘OK, I’ll defer to you on this one.’ As it turns out, he was kind of right. There’ll be some things that I’m sure Luke can give them. But then again, I am glad that Matt was adamant about holding some stuff until cutdown day. I think he had been burned by some of that stuff in the past.”
The Dolphins kept some of their playbook under wraps during the preseason, too. They’re expected to have packages for veteran newcomer Albert Wilson and rookie tight end Mike Gesicki that they didn’t show in exhibition games.