Posted on January 21, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
After parting ways with Mike Mularkey less than a week ago, the Tennessee Titans have moved quickly to find a replacement. Saturday night, the Titans announced that they have hired Houston Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel as their new head coach. The Titans will hold a formal press conference on Monday to introduce Vrabel.
“I am excited to have Mike Vrabel joining our organization as our new head coach,” said Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk. “Mike has a commanding presence and a deep knowledge for how he will attack this head coaching opportunity. Throughout his football career, he has played for, been mentored by, and coached with successful teams and organizations. He knows what it takes to reach that level of sustained success – he has seen it first-hand. We have a chance to build on the solid foundation that we established over the past couple of years and I believe Mike is the right person to continue that progress.”
The 42-year old Vrabel spent 14 years in the NFL as a linebacker. Despite also playing with the Chiefs and Steelers, he’s best remembered for his eight seasons with the New England Patriots. During those eight years in New England, Vrabel helped the Patriots win three Super Bowls. He was also a Pro Bowler and first-team All-Pro in 2007.
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Vrabel has also had a meteoric rise in the coaching ranks. He retired after the 2010 season and immediately took a job as the linebacker coach at Ohio State, his alma mater. After three seasons coaching at Ohio State, Vrabel became linebacker coach with the Texans in 2014. He was then promoted to defensive coordinator for the 2017 season.
“This is an incredible opportunity and one I have been preparing for my entire football life,” Vrabel said in a statement. “I want to thank Amy, Jon, and the entire Titans organization for putting their faith in me. I am excited to get to work and that work starts now. 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.”
While other teams have taken their time in finding a new head coach, the Titans did so quite swiftly. Vrabel was hired less than a week after Mularkey and the Titans agreed to go their separate ways. Titans GM Jon Robinson was clear from the start of the coaching search that he wanted the next head coach to be a “leader of men.” Robinson no doubt believes that Vrabel fits the bill.
“I have always had a great deal of respect for Mike as a player and as a coach,” said Robinson. “I saw him up close as a player for the Patriots and saw how he prepared himself to be successful on a daily basis. He was the ultimate team-first player and he embodies that same mindset as a coach.”
Vrabel takes over a team that has finished 9-7 the past two seasons and made it to the Divisional Round of the playoffs this season. He also inherits a team that appears to have a franchise quarterback in place in Marcus Mariota. Playing in the NFL for 14 years should give him instant credibility and respect with his players. Of course, with so little coaching experience, how Vrabel fairs as a head coach in the NFL is anybody’s guess.