The first domino falls as the Tennessee Titans fire Craig Aukerman

Caroliina Panthers v Tennessee Titans
Caroliina Panthers v Tennessee Titans / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

During Mike Vrabel's time as head coach of the Tennessee Titans, he has done a pretty bad job at hiring assistant coaches and coordinators.

Sure, people are quick to point out Matt LaFleur and Arthur Smith who both became head coaches after leaving the Tennessee Titans. However, you have to remember some things about those situations.

First, LaFleur was someone that the Tennessee Titans brought in to interview for the head coaching job and they did that during a season where they already knew that they were going to hire Mike Vrabel. What that means is, that Amy Adams Strunk and Jon Robinson thought that he was a strong offensive mind to pair with Mike Vrabel in his first season, it wasn't a coach that Mike Vrabel wanted to hire.

Arthur Smith's hiring was one of the most unique hirings in NFL history. I'm not going to presume too much about Smith's life other than the fact that as the son of a billionaire, I think he had other options in the job market than doing grunt work and being a position coach for the Tennessee Titans for eight years.

During that time Smith served under four different head coaches, but he always did a good enough job to convince the next head coach to give him a chance as the tight ends coach. That rarely happens in the NFL and while Vrabel gets credit for promoting him to OC, he wasn't someone that Vrabel hand-picked for his roster.

The names that were hand-picked by Vrabel include guys like Keith Carter and Todd Downing.

Former Tennessee Titans Special Teams Coordinator Craig Aukerman was sort of in between those two categories because he was an assistant in Tennessee in 2017 who took over in the middle of the season when Mike Mularkey fired his STC. Mike Vrabel decided to keep him as the STC for his era and a change was never considered.

Today the Titans fired Aukerman after an abysmal game where his protection was so porous that Ryan Stonehouse had punts blocked on back-to-back drives (the second one was ruled a fumble as a technicality but it was a blocked punt for all intents and purposes). The second mistake was so bad that the defender got such a clean shot that he ended up lighting up Stonehouse and ending his season.

Since Vrabel has been in Tennessee the Titans would sign multiple players in the offseason with the sole purpose of playing special teams. Despite that, the Tennessee Titans only got years of mediocre (at best) special teams play from all of that investment.

A move should have been made years ago, but better late than never so give credit to Vrabel for drawing a line in the sand at "allowing the historically good punter to sustain a season-ending injury."

However, the real story here doesn't have that much to do with Aukerman. Instead, it is more about the fact that this is the first time in Vrabel's tenure that he has fired a coach in the middle of the season.

Right now the Tennessee Titans fan base is divided between people thinking Vrabel can be a good coach again one day if he can figure out how to hire better coaches, and people who are praying that the rumors are true and the New England Patriots really are willing to trade for Vrabel.

With every loss, more and more people move from the first category to the second category and it is starting to become lopsided in a way that Vrabel wouldn't like considering that the Titans are 4-15 in their last 19 games and that it is looking like that number is going to be very close to 4-20 by the end of the season.

Whether ownership stepped in and helped Vrabel make this decision or Vrabel has suddenly changed what he has done for the past six seasons and decided to run the team differently, this is a pivotal time in the franchise's history.

With Jeffery Simmons set to miss time after suffering a minor knee injury against the Indianapolis Colts, it is hard to imagine the locker room getting better in Tennessee. Time will tell whether this is just a one-off decision or if this is the first domino to fall before an offseason that will see big changes.