Mike Vrabel is the Coach of the Year and the coach of the future

Mike Vrabel, Tennessee Titans (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Mike Vrabel, Tennessee Titans (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The Tennessee Titans are coming off of one of the most heartbreaking playoff losses in franchise history, but that shouldn’t overshadow the incredible job that Mike Vrabel did this season.

However, after four-straight winning seasons, two-straight division titles, securing the one-seed, and finishing with more victories over winning teams than any team in NFL history, the Titans are in a place that they have not been since the early 2000s.

A winning culture is forming in the locker room with cornerstone stars headlining a win-now unit that is also built for the long haul.

AJ Brown, Jeffery Simmons, and Harold Landry have all played at or near pro-bowl level within the last two years and are destined for well-deserved and hopefully lengthy extensions.

Another key piece entering a contract season in 2022 is Mike Vrabel.

No matter what issues you may have with his hiring practices, the fact is that he was the final piece of the Titans rebuild.

Even when the Titans had Mike Mularkey and a good roster, they were still a middling, destination game team. Under Jon Robinson, Amy Adams Strunk, and Mike Vrabel’s guidance, this team has quickly turned into a franchise capable of winning the one-seed with an injury-riddled roster.

Vrabel deserves an extension and will undoubtedly receive it soon enough. Because of that, it is important to reflect on what he has done and why it is so important to have a future with the 2021 Coach of the Year.

Mike Vrabel is getting better every season

Mike Vrabel is bordering on some historic accomplishments for the Tennessee Titans franchise. In four seasons, Vrabel has the best winning percentage of any Titans head coach (.631), and he is currently fourth in franchise history.

Over his four seasons in charge, the Titans have earned back-to-back division titles and have made the playoffs the last three seasons, in addition to the one seed this year.

Right now the Titans are arguably the hottest they have ever been and this is the first time since the 1999-2003 stretch that they have had sustained success.

Other than the results on the field, Vrabel has made Tennessee a place players want to play and that makes Jon Robinson’s job easier.

If you ask any of the players on the roster, you would get a wide range of answers about their head coach that would highlight one of the many positive attributes he brings to the role.

Passion, intelligence, and respect – all are on display on a daily basis. Few will forget the 2019 playoffs where Mike Vrabel befuddled his former coach (and the NFL’s resident Sith Lord) Bill Belichick by exploiting a little-known rule to waster away nearly a minute and a half of the 4th quarter on one down.

The humor, command over the locker room, and credibility he has as a former player are also clear. This is no more evident than in his rare Twitter appearances mainly used to troll Taylor Lewan or, in this instance, Tom Brady.

In addition, as the Pro-Bowl coach, he is on display more than ever and we are seeing in real-time the credibility he is building around the league.

Thirdly (and most importantly for the Titans) coaching consistency brings teams long-term success even when rosters are not in an optimal position to win.

Take this year’s Pittsburgh Steelers team coached by Mike Tomlin for example. With a rapidly declining quarterback and a roster with serious questions marks elsewhere, Tomlin, who has coached the Steelers since 2007, remarkably guided a team with a -55 point differential to the playoffs and yet another winning season.

The Steelers historically have maintained coaching stability and as a result, have weathered bad seasons and have not had a losing season since 2003.

Finally, despite the occasional hiccup or mistake that Vrabel has made in his time as coach, it is important to remember how young and new he is to the position. It is rare to find a head coach who is new to the job and hits the ground running as Vrabel has.

There is certainly room to critique Vrabel, after all, half the battle for head coaches is answering for your team’s mistakes. The fiasco of Vrabel calling the defensive plays in 2020 led to a simply terrible defense that year and seemed like an instance of biting off more than he could chew.

However, after relinquishing control to Shane Bowen and bringing in extra help in Jim Schwartz, the defense had an extraordinary year in 2021. Aside from just improving the defense, showing that he was learning from his mistakes is just a great trait to see from your head coach.

So, yes, Mike Vrabel has room to grow but he has shown that he does not often make the same mistake twice. Besides, winning absolves most sins anyway and Vrabel has demonstrated that he can help the Titans do that.

For his success with the Titans on and off the field, Vrabel deserves the recognition he is earning from the league and his extension with the Titans will be well-earned.

Keeping Vrabel at the helm is what Titan’s fans want to see and will be a step forward in solidifying sustained success for the future.