Jon Robinson's mistakes and how Mike Vrabel "fixed" them (2022-2023)
And now we are into the third and potentially final stretch of Mike Vrabel's career as the Tennessee Titans Head Coach.
Let's go ahead and get the elephant in the room out of the way, the collapse of this era of the Tennessee Titans started with the A.J. Brown trade. It was awful and it ended up being the straw that broke the camel's back for Jon Robinson. We all remember what happened, so there is no need to open up those wounds again.
However, it wasn't the only bad decision that the Tennessee Titans made. I would argue that the second-worst decision that the team made that offseason was keeping Todd Downing after he proved for 18 weeks that he had no idea how to run this offense.
On top of both of those season-wrecking mistakes, the Tennessee Titans once again had awful injury luck. Just to clarify, when I say awful injury luck I mean the worst in NFL history. The Tennessee Titans set the record for the highest number of players on a 53-man roster over the course of a season in 2021 and they nearly broke that record in 2022.
By the end of the season, the only player who had played in every game from 2021-2022 was safety Kevin Byard. Think about how many dozens of players have to get injured for there to only be one player to make that list.
Before the injuries took a catastrophic turn and Ryan Tannehill was placed on I.R., the Tennessee Titans actually had a fighting chance. Guys like Tannehill, Derrick Henry, Ben Jones, Jeffery Simmons, David Long Jr., Teair Tart, Kevin Byard, and Rashad Weaver helped kick and claw this team to a 7-3 record after an exciting road win against the Green Bay Packers. At this point, Mike Vrabel was getting the most out of his players.
That was the last game they won all year and Mike Vrabel and company lost seven-straight games after that to finish out the season.
With Jon Robinson gone, Mike Vrabel was given a full vote of confidence by Amy Adams Strunk and she even had him help conduct the interview for the next GM. Once Vrabel and Amy Adams Strunk hired Ran Carthon to be the new GM of the Tennessee Titans, it became abundantly clear that the new power structure was Amy Adams Stunk on top, Mike Vrabel right below her, and then Ran Carthon below that.
In his first offseason at the wheel, Mike Vrabel made it abundantly clear that this was a roster that could compete immediately. Electing to pass up trades for Ryan Tannehill, Kevin Byard, and Derrick Henry, the Tennessee Titans were going to push for the playoffs in 2023.
Because they held onto those players, they didn't have a ton of cap space to work with but they had enough to make some moves. With a glaring need on the offensive line, Mike Vrabel's biggest/most expensive addition of the free agency period was...a 3-year/$30 million deal for Andre Dillard.
Instead of grabbing a proven starter at left guard like Isaac Seumalo who was also from the Philadelphia Eagles and who would have had natural chemistry with Dillard, the Titans decided to take a swing on EDGE Arden Key for the same price.
The lone offseason signing that looks like a good deal has been Daniel Bruskill who has been a very solid right guard for the Tennessee Titans, but they could have signed Seumalo and Brunskill for what it cost them to sign Dillard.
Luckily, DeAndre Hopkins fell into the Tennessee Titans' lap because five teams that he was trying to get in contact with never showed any interest. If not for those five teams missing on Hopkins, the Titans would be unwatchable this season.
So remember, the messaging from the Tennessee Titans with every move they made was that they were going to push for a playoff spot. With that in mind, the Titans were almost certainly going to grab a tackle and a wide receiver high in the draft, right?
Nope. In fact, the Titans somehow avoided both of those positions until Day 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft. Shockingly, the Tennessee Titans spent seven draft picks (including a future 3rd round pick) and only added one starter. In other words, Mike Vrabel tried to ride the fence between a rebuild and being competitive.