Saturday’s wild-card matchup between the Titans and Patriots could be considered a “revenge game” for multiple players. Logan Ryan and Dion Lewis likely still have axes to grind with the franchise that let them walk, while many on the New England roster surely want to atone for last season’s ugly loss in Tennessee. Plus, you know, this is the NFL playoffs, and there’s a lot at stake.
And then there’s Adam Humphries, who might consider this weekend’s showdown more of a “confirmation game” — if there is such a thing.
Despite a “strong,” last-ditch effort from the Patriots, Humphries elected to sign a four-year deal with the Titans during the offseason. The 26-year-old wideout, who projected as an ideal fit for the Patriots offense, cited Tom Brady’s age and uncertain future as primary reasons for choosing the perennially mediocre Titans over the six-time Super Bowl champions. The decision was widely mocked by fans and media alike, with Humphries eliciting a collective “what an idiot!” across Patriots nation.
But in an age when takes rarely age well, Humphries is on a path toward vindication.
Sure, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer has had a forgettable first season in Tennessee (37 catches for 374 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games), but the Patriots’ future outlook suddenly looks more ominous than it has at any point over the past two decades. Brady, 42, finally looked his age in Sunday’s stunning loss to the Miami Dolphins, and he’s given plenty of reason to believe his days in Foxboro are numbered. Add in the lack of offensive skill players, number of older players on defense, potential ascension of their AFC East rivals and rumors of more coaching departures, and the Patriots no longer look like an ideal destination for free agents.
That said, as long as Bill Belichick is the head coach, New England should remain an attractive option for players who prioritize winning above all else.
Had Humphries signed a one-year deal with the Titans, criticism still would hold up. The Patriots are favored in Saturday’s game, after all, and Brady ultimately is more likely to lead his team on a Super Bowl run than Ryan Tannehill. Furthermore, Humphries surely would have more a role in New England than he’s had in Tennessee.
But, with a cautious eye toward the future, Humphries’ rationale for signing with the Titans now seems far more reasonable. With Mike Vrabel at head coach, the Titans have developed the culture and assembled the talent necessary to become contenders in the AFC over the next few seasons. If they find a franchise quarterback (no disrespect to Tannehill, who has been tremendous), they really will be in business.
However, don’t be surprised if Humphries is exonerated as early as Saturday night. The Titans are a bad matchup for the Patriots, and an upset at Gillette Stadium absolutely is on the table.
Thumbnail photo via Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports Images