NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The quarterback is returning. The head coach isn't. Heisman Trophy-winner Marcus Mariota is set to return to the starting lineup after a two-game absence with a sprained MCL in his left knee.
He does so as Ken Whisenhunt departs, replaced as the Titans head coach this week by tight ends and assistant head coach Mike Mularkey.
Ironically, Whisenhunt was blamed for continuing to play his quarterback in a loss to Miami when he was damaged goods, contributing to Whisenhunt's downfall.
It's unlikely that the change on the sideline has generated a groundswell of enthusiasm in Nashville. Whisenhunt was 4 and 31 over his last 35 games as the head coach at Tennessee and Arizona. Mularkey's most recent head coaching opportunity saw him fired one year into a three-year contract in Jacksonville after a 2 and 14 season.
He vowed this week to employ a steadfast power running game offensively, not a bad idea given an offensive line that has surrendered 28 sacks in seven games, third-worst in the NFL. That line has contributed to an anemic offensive attack that's scored 36 points over the past four games.
The Titans are 31st in scoring average and total offense in the NFL. They're scoring an average of 18 points per game. But the Saints' defense is allowing an average of 29 points per game, and that's 30th in the NFL.
Call this a battle between the immovable force that is the Titans' offense against the movable object that is the Saints' defense.