This is the week where NFL head coaches get canned, but nobody saw this one coming. Tuesday morning brought the shocking news that the Tennessee Titans fired Mike Vrabel after a 6-11 season, the second consecutive sub-.500 year by Vrabel’s squad. It was a big surprise both in the sense that there was not an inkling around the league that it might happen and also it just doesn’t make a ton of sense. The Titans were going to be bad this year, everybody knew it, and firing the head coach for failing to drag them to respectability is a move usually reserved for the Daniel Snyders of the NFL world.
But, for one reason or another, it happened. Vrabel is now a free agent and will be highly sought-after with five head coaching jobs other than the Titans currently available, with the chance there’s more to come. And every one of those teams would love to have Vrabel. While his defenses haven’t really lived up to his reputation as a defense-first guy he is beloved by his players and at least gives off the vibes of an old-school head coach unafraid to blend new-school concepts into his approach. He is not perfect, but he has proven he can lead a playoff team and win games in tough environments.
Here are three teams that would most benefit from hiring Vrabel immediately.
There has been no news on Bill Belichick’s status as of yet. But it’s hard to imagine a better successor for the all-time great coach than Vrabel. He understands how Belichick’s culture worked, an understanding that would be instrumental to transitioning everybody in the building after 20 years of the same thing day-in and day-out. Vrabel would also, presumably, be able to keep up the team’s defensive dominance given the talent on that side of the ball.
The obvious question is what he’d do about the offense; his Titans teams were not exactly ahead of the curve in terms of scheme and ultimately was their downfall once they came up against a good offense. But Vrabel would be an incredibly popular pick and his availability may be what ends up pushing Robert Kraft to hand Belichick a pink slip.
Talk about a team in desperate need of a strong culture-setter. After shuffling through several head coaches over the last few years Mark Davis might not even have the cash flow to hire Vrabel, but he’d be the best thing for this franchise if it could be pulled off. They’re basically building from the ground-up and could certainly use a guy like Vrabel in there to ensure things don’t go sideways again.
Antonio Pierce’s brief tenure as head coach has shown the defense is a bit more talented than anybody thought so Vrabel would have something to work with. Definitely a contender if he’s interested in living out in Vegas.
The Falcons have already been connected a few times to Belichick with the obvious caveat that he’d have to be available first. If he doesn’t end up hitting the open market, why not go after a disciple of sorts in Vrabel? The offense is already set up for success as long as someone other than Arthur Smith is calling the plays and the defense has a few blue-chippers that could work wonders for Vrabel.
The QB problem still needs answering but it does seem like Arthur Blank would like a more defensive-minded and veteran head coach after whiffing so badly on Arthur Smith. Vrabel certainly qualifies.