The Titans have found Mike Mularkey’s replacement after just five days.
The Tennessee Titans announced on Saturday evening that they have hired a head coach. The man for the job is Houston Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel.
Per the team’s official statement, controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk saw the chemistry between Vrabel and general manager Jon Robinson the moment he walked in the room. “You could see their connection right away from the history they have with one another – seeing the game in a similar way and talking the same language.”
This decision comes as no surprise, especially considering the verbiage used by Robinson in his press conference last Monday. He repeatedly noted that he was searching for a “leader of men” who would “maximize the talents of his players.”
While previous head coach Mike Mularkey was a great leader, he often struggled with the latter half of that description. The Titans, particularly on offense, seemed to tend toward jamming “square pegs into round holes” in order to make their rock-hard philosophy work. As a result, the offense struggled mightily last season.
In his four seasons as a member of the Houston Texans defensive coaching staff (3 years as linebackers coach, 1 as defensive coordinator), Vrabel played a key role in helping star players Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus reach the peaks of their respective careers.
Despite missing the likes of Mercilus (injury), A.J. Bouye (free agency to Jacksonville), and J.J. Watt (injury), Vrabel’s defense ranked in the top half of the NFL last season in terms of yards. The Texans did, however, allow the most points of any team in the league.
This hire, which will make many fans and media members skeptical, is very “Jon Robinson-esque” (if that’s a real word). In addition to having a reputation as a big leader, both during his playing days with the Patriots and his short coaching career, Vrabel isn’t the obvious hire.
Robinson has shown in his two years with the Titans that he is not afraid to make unconventional decisions, and they usually work. He drafted a safety who wasn’t invited to the combine in the third round, selected Jack Conklin over scout-darling Laremy Tunsil, and drafted an FBS receiver in the top five.
Despite those moves being pretty controversial, all of those moves have worked out. If Vrabel’s limited resume makes you worry that he won’t be a quality coach, just remember who picked him to be the Titans’ new coach.
Unlike Vrabel, Jon Robinson is a proven commodity. You can be skeptical, but there’s no reason to fear that this hire will be a disaster. Because, if Robinson’s track record is any indicator, this will be a home run decision.
The Titans pounced early on Vrabel for a reason, and it was probably a good one. We will learn more when Vrabel and Robinson address the media in Nashville on Monday.