Wiedmer: Two games along, neither Falcons nor Titans showing much promise

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Uhggggg-leee. Times two. Maybe times four if you want to include all four of the disappointing games the Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans have played to date through the first two weeks of the National Football League season.

A combined zero-for-four are the two closest NFL teams to our city limits at this moment. And just in case you're still looking for a reasonable reason to hope for better days to come, history isn't on their side. According to Stathead, of the 400 teams that have begun the season 0-2 since the AFL-NFL merger of 1970, only 38 have reached the playoffs. That's 9.5% of all 0-2 teams.

If that won't discourage you from planning a Super Bowl party this coming February 12th for either the Falcons or Titans, not sure what will. In fact, were the Falcons and Titans to meet at Finley Stadium for a game this week, I'm not sure they'd sell the place out, so disappointed must their fans be.

Of course, the Falcons did what the Falcons do in Week One against the hated (at least in their minds) New Orleans Saints. They got on top by 16 points in the fourth quarter yet somehow lost 27-26 on a 51-yard field goal. And just to make sure that alone wasn't hurtful enough for a franchise that once blew a 28-3 lead a few years ago in the Super Bowl, Atlanta kicker Younghoe Koo's 63-yard field goal attempt was blocked as the clock ran out.

Or perhaps you'll like this stat: Since 2020, the Falcons have blown three fourth-quarter leads of 15 or more points. The other 31 NFL teams COMBINED have blown TWO such leads.

Yet you have to hand it to the Falcons this past Sunday. Visiting the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams, and trailing by the Twilight Zone score of 28-3, the Dirty Birds nearly dropped the Rams to 0-2 on the season, clawing back to within 31-25 before former Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota threw his second interception of the afternoon and sealed Atlanta's fate in the final 31-27 loss.

With words that sounded sadly familiar to his days in Nashville, Mariota said of his two picks, "That's on me, I've got to do a better job of communicating that across the board," said Mariota. "I think, kind of throughout the game, I could have done a better job operationally and just communicating with the guys so that everybody's on the same page."

  photo  Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota wipes his face during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

One place the Falcons are on the same regrettable page as the last three seasons is the record. They're now 0-2 for a fourth straight season.

As for the Titans, before we get to the 41-7 smackdown the Many Hues of Blue Crew endured in Buffalo on Monday night, we'll start with Week One's 21-20 home loss to the New York Giants on a two-point conversion with 1:06 to play. Or, if you prefer, we could bring up the fact that even after falling behind, they would have still won if Titans kicker Randy Bullock hadn't pushed a 47-yard field goal to the left after hitting two field goals earlier in the game.

Oh, where or where is Al Del Greco when you need him?

Regardless of how or why Tennessee failed in its opener, losing the first game of the season on your home field to a team that was downright awful a year ago doesn't bode well for making people forget last year's postseason loss to the Cincinnati Bengals after gaining the home field advantage for the entire AFC playoffs.

Especially when you follow it up with one of the most atrocious efforts the Titans have had in years in Monday's beating at Buffalo.

Yes, the Bills look like they just might finally win a Super Bowl this year rather than merely make it there. As ugly as this loss was for the Titans, this is the same Buffalo team that similarly humiliated the Rams in Week One, ruining their Super Bowl banner drop by outscoring them 21-0 after halftime in a 31-10 win.

In fact, two weeks into the season, most folks might consider Buffalo the team to beat at this point.

But after the offensive star of all stars for the Titans -- running back Derrick Henry -- was held to 25 yards on 13 carries, he made a sobering observation: "We just weren't good enough. At all."

No, they weren't. Not the offensive line. Not quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Not the defense. Not even Henry, though it's tough to run without a hole to run through. And for what it's worth, you could certainly argue that between the Falcons and Titans, the Falcons have actually looked the slightly more promising team through two weeks of action.

And when you may actually look worse than the Falcons, you've got a lot to clean up, and not much time to do it.

"They outplayed us and they out-coached us, and that's the definition of it," said Titans coach Mike Vrabel late Monday. "We're going to go back to work and try to figure out how to win a football game."

A game. One game. When you're trying to get your first win in Week Three after being considered a strong playoff contender in the preseason, the definition of this NFL season for Chattanooga's two closest NFL franchises is one very familiar word -- disappointing. Again.

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com.