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Mike Vrabel to take over Tennessee Titans

Mike Vrabel
Mike Vrabel takes over a Titans team coming off their first playoff win since 2004 (Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports)

On Saturday, the Tennessee Titans named Houston Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel as their head coach. The Titans did not waste any time in finding their new head man, as it only took them 5 days to find their replacement for Mike Mularkey. Mularkey and the Titans went their separate ways after his unwillingness to make changes to offensive staff led Titans GM Jon Robinson with only one option: moving forward without Mularkey.

The Titans interviewed 3 coaches for their head coaching position: Carolina Panthers DC Steve Wilks, Los Angeles Rams OC Matt LaFleur, and Houston Texans DC Mike Vrabel. When Mularkey was let go, New England Patriots OC Josh McDaniels was the favorite to take over, but reports quickly came out that he was likely heading to Indianapolis. On Saturday afternoon, the Titans made it official as they named Mike Vrabel the new leader of the Titans. It is believed that Mike Vrabel was always Jon Robinson’s guy, as the two of them were together for 7 years in New England, with Vrabel as a star linebacker and Robinson as a scout.

Vrabel had an impressive 14-year playing career, having an All-Pro season in 20o7, and winning 3 Super Bowls with the Patriots. Retiring in 2010 after 2 seasons with the Chiefs, Vrabel took to the sidelines, starting his coaching career at his alma mater, Ohio State, as the linebackers coach. After 3 seasons with Ohio State, where he worked with linebackers and the defensive line, the Houston Texans brought him on as the linebackers coach, a role in which he served for the 3 seasons. In 2017, he was promoted to defensive coordinator. You look at the stats for the Texans defense and you’re probably not impressed. You must also remember that they did not have JJ Watt, Brian Cushing, and Whitney Mercilus for much of the season. Vrabel quickly established himself as a bright football coach and has no problem motivating his players and getting their very best.

Mike Vrabel
Vrabel won 3 Super Bowls with the Patriots. He looks to bring that winning culture to Nashville (MICHAEL CONROY/AP PHOTO)

Mike Vrabel does not bring a long coaching resume, but he does bring the intangibles that Jon Robinson wanted in his head coach. Something that Mike Mularkey and his staff promoted well was toughness, and they do not lose any of that. Vrabel was a tough player and brings that to his coaching. He also brings a unique football IQ that will help him as he strives to improve the Titans in all 3 phases of the game. He has the ability to relate to players and coaches well, and he demands perfection. Robinson strived to seek out a ‘leader of men’, and many believe they hit the nail on the head with Vrabel.

Bill O’Brian, head coach of the Houston Texans, stated that Vrabel is “smart, organized, and a leader. He gets the most out of his players through the mutual respect he establishes with them.”

“I am excited to get to work and that work starts now,” Vrabel said in a written statement released by the Titans. “We want to build a culture around winning, competitiveness and toughness. Everything we do is going to be geared towards winning and being physical. We want to prepare our players so they know what to do, which will allow them to play fast and aggressive.” These are all things that Titans fans want to hear. But time will tell. My initial reaction to the hire was, “Wow, that was quick.” But I have learned to trust Jon Robinson, and it was clear that it was important to have the owner, GM, and head coach on the same page. It is clear that there is a unique bond between Robinson and Vrabel. They are committed to bringing the winning culture that they both experienced in New England, to Nashville.

There are many things to like about the Vrabel hiring. But Titans fans won’t be totally satisfied until they hear of his choice of offensive coordinator. It is very important that he makes the right hire and that he and his staff can continue to develop this young, talented roster and make the next step towards their ultimate goal: bringing the Lombardi Trophy to Nashville. For now, while there are a lot of positives, time will tell if the Titans got the right guy.

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