One of the intriguing storylines of Sunday’s matchup between the Falcons and Titans is Arthur Smith returning to Tennessee where he made a name for himself under Mike Vrabel as their offensive coordinator.
Together, Vrabel and Smith led the Titans to the AFC Championship behind a stout defense and the legs of Derrick Henry before eventually falling to the Chiefs. It will be the first regular season matchup between the two teams since Arthur Smith took over as head coach of the Falcons, leading a reporter to ask Mike Vrabel if he and Smith would partake in a “vest swap” following the conclusion of Sunday’s game. To which Vrabel proceeded to take a shot at Smith’s new mustache.
Titans HC Mike Vrabel, when asked about the post-game vest swap Arthur Smith mentioned Wednesday:
"As long as he gets rid of that miserable mustache."
— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) October 26, 2023
The two appear to still have a good relationship, but make no mistake about it, Arthur Smith would love nothing better than to hand his former team a loss this weekend.
With Will Levis expected to make his first NFL start, the Falcons are in a prime position to move to 5-3 and further themselves from the pack in the NFC South. Atlanta’s defense has been one of the best in football this season in every metric, and Levis had a tendency to put the ball in harm’s way in college. The Titans offensive line also hasn’t been one of the better units when it comes to protecting the quarterback. This is a perfect opportunity for the Falcons to pad their defensive stats on Sunday, but on the other side of the ball, Desmond Ridder has to avoid the costly turnovers if Atlanta wants to win.
On paper, Arthur Smith and the Falcons should win this game running away. But the game is played on the field, and Mike Vrabel is a maestro at getting his guys ready in the underdog role, especially at home. The Falcons are a good team, but they aren’t talented enough to overlook anybody and walk away with a win. They’ll have to put their best foot forward if they want to win their second game in a row on the road.
Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire