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How the Patriots and Titans have changed since their last meeting

Much has changed for both New England and Tennessee in two short years.

Wild Card Round - Tennessee Titans v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Tom Brady’s last pass attempt as a member of the New England Patriots was a little too memorable for fans in and around New England. I mean, who could forget his former teammate Logan Ryan stepping underneath a tipped pass and stalling into the end zone, essentially putting the final nail in the coffin of a 20-year run on top of the NFL.

That was also the last time that the Patriots matched up with the Tennessee Titans. 23 months later, the Patriots have already gone through a complete rebuild and matched their win total from a lost 2020 season. Tennessee has continued it’s hot streak, winning 19 of 27 and positioning themselves atop the AFC.

Of course, if you paid attention over the past week, New England and Tennessee are trending in completely different directions, looking much different than they did in January of 2020. Let’s take a look at those who have been along for the ride on each side.

Patriots changes

The following 23 players from the last meeting with Tennessee are still on the Patriots’ active roster:

OT Isaiah Wynn, IOL Ted Karras, IOL Shaq Mason, WR N’Keal Harry, DL Lawrence Guy, DL Deatrich Wise Jr., LB Kyle Van Noy, LB Dont’a Hightower, CB J.C. Jackson, S Devin McCourty, K Nick Folk, P Jake Bailey, ST Matthew Slater, ST Justin Bethel, CB Joejuan Williams, RB Brandon Bolden, LS Joe Cardona, DL Chase Winovich, LB Jamie Collins, LB Ja’Whaun Bentley, WR Jakobi Meyers, QB Jarrett Stidham, RB Damien Harris

Offense: Though there are a number of players returning on the offensive side of the ball, their roles look very different. Isaiah Wynn, Shaq Mason, and Ted Karras all return to the starting lineup, but Karras finds himself playing left guard instead of center this time around.

Former reserve players like Jakobi Meyers and Damien Harris have gone on to become starters despite neither playing a single snap in the 2019 AFC Wild Card game, while former starter N’Keal Harry has become a role player on offense in his third season. Former Titan Jonnu Smith has also found his way to New England with a host of recent free agent additions.

Defense: New England’s last matchup with Tennessee was the final game of the “Boogeymen” era for the Patriots. Funny enough, they’ve all since left the active roster only to return and occupy the second level of New England’s defense. Other returning starters include Lawrence Guy and Devin McCourty, who have been joined by a number of talented players like Matt Judon, J.C. Jackson, Christian Barmore, Kyle Dugger, and Adrian Phillips.

Special Teams: The gang is back, as Nick Folk, Joe Cardona, Jake Bailey, Matthew Slater, and Justin Bethel will all return to New England’s specialist group from 2019’s AFC Wild Card game.

Coaching staff: Despite Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels, Steve Belichick, Ivan Fears, Nick Caley, and Jerod Mayo are still kicking from the 2019 coaching staff, but other than them, things look different.

Carmen Bricillo has taken over for legendary offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. Demarcus Covington has replaced current University of Illinois head coach Bret Bielema as defensive line coach. Mick Lombardi is now the full time wide receivers coach, and current New York Giants head coach Joe Judge was replaced by Cameron Achord as special teams coach.

Titans changes

The following 17 players from the last meeting are still on the Titans’ active roster:

WR A.J. Brown, IOL Nate Davis, DB Amani Hooker, LB David Long Jr., DE Derick Roberson, DL Jeffery Simmons, LB Rashaan Evans, TE Anthony Firkser, LB Harold Landry III, LB Jayon Brown, S Kevin Byard, LB MyCole Pruitt, OT Taylor Lewan, C Ben Jones, QB Ryan Tannehill, IOL Roger Saffold, P Brett Kern

Offense: Though former Pro-Bowl talents Ryan Tannehill, A.J. Brown, Taylor Lewan, and Roger Saffold all return to Tennessee’s offense from their 2019 squad, there is one noticeable omission, running back Derrick Henry. Henry, who ran for 182 yards in Tennessee’s 20-13 victory in these teams’ last meeting, is now on injured reserve with a foot injury. Meaning the Titans will now be without over 40% of their total offense over the past two seasons.

Defense: The Titans return a key member from each level from their 2019 defense. Jeffery Simmons returns along the front lines, while Harold Landry III is back as the teams top pass rusher. Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown still man the middle, while Kevin Byard is still one of the top players in their secondary. Gone are Jurrell Casey, Logan Ryan, and Adoree Jackson who have since been replaced by Denico Autry, Jackrabbitt Jenkins, and Kristian Fulton.

Special Teams: Brett Kern is the lone returning member of Tennessee’s special teams battery. Veteran long snapper Morgan Cox has replaced former long snapper Beau Brinkley, while Randy Bullock has taken over the kicking duties from Greg Joseph.

Coaching staff: The Tennessee Titans are one of the few teams we’ve seen this season that return their head coach from their previous meeting with New England. Mike Vrabel is back as Tennessee’s head man, with Todd Downing and Shane Bowen replacing Arthur Smith and Dean Pees as offensive and defensive coordinator. Jim Schwartz is now a part of Tennessee’s staff as a defensive coaching consultant.