As if managing the remains of an injury-riddled roster wasn’t enough evidence of that, he’s led his squad to a road victory in Atlanta versus the Falcons in Tennessee’s first preseason game before putting them on another plane, taking them to Tampa for two joint practices with the defending Super Bowl Champions, and then handing a more thorough beating to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Adversity had to come at some point, and here we are dealing with it early. According to a very reliable source, Coach Vrabel himself, the Titans leader on the football field has been diagnosed with COVID-19. That might throw a wrench in what looks like a very well-oiled machine, temporarily of course.
Here are a few thoughts from the Titans head coach about his recent setback.
The news of Mike Vrabel’s diagnosis comes not even 24 hours after the time expired on Tennessee’s second preseason game, a 31-point victory. On Sunday, August 22nd, he spent about 20 minutes virtually with the media, and here’s what he had to say on the subject.
"What it comes down to is you have to have two negative tests within a 48-hour period. If that happens then I can get back into the building. If not, I’ll have to wait ten days."
In his absence, the Titans will lean on special teams coach Craig Aukerman, Jim Haslett, Jim Schwartz as the coaches that will be relied upon to help oversee the team while he’s gone. Haslett and Schwartz have both been head coaches in the NFL before, but being away from the team’s facilities won’t have any bearing on Vrabel’s input. He’ll be just as active as ever in the day-to-day activities.
Here’s more from Coach as to what that will look like.
"I’m sure I’ll be involved in the Zoom squad meetings… I’ll work through a lot of those things. We don’t go out onto the practice field until tomorrow. Today, my focus was on the corrections on the film, also the health of our football team… (I’m) confident in the team and coaching staff that no matter the situation, we’ll handle it and make good decisions."
Week 1 of the regular season approaches. Vrabel will be back by then, but this team has sauntered on in the on-field absence of team leaders like A.J. Brown, Bud Dupree, and Julio Jones.
That’s made the roster better from top to bottom as other guys have gotten opportunities. For whatever reason, it sort of feels like going through the preseason grind without their head coach will only make this team stronger as well.
The phrase ‘next man up’ typically doesn’t apply to one’s head coach, but the ‘next man up’ mantra is being lived in the Titans organization again. The Chicago Bears had better watch out.