When you get handled by the New England Patriots in the playoffs, it’s not a bad idea to bring in someone who was a major part of their dynasty.
Vrabel spent eight seasons with the Patriots at linebacker, winning three Super Bowls with the team and making the All-Pro and Pro Bowl teams in 2007. He was with the Pittsburgh Steelers for his first three seasons in the NFL and played with the Kansas City Chiefs for his last two years before retiring in 2010 after 14 seasons.
He quickly transitioned to coaching, joining Ohio State’s coaching staff for three seasons under Urban Meyer. The Houston Texans hired him as their linebackers coach in 2014 and promoted him to defensive coordinator before the beginning of this season, replacing Romeo Crennel, who moved to the assistant head coach position.
While Vrabel has been heralded by many as a quick learner with a knack for connecting with both players and coaches, the Texans defense took a major step back in 2017 under his tenure. After finishing 2nd in total defense in 2016, they dropped to 20th this season. Injuries played a major role in that (losing J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus early on hurt especially), but it’s fair to wonder if Vrabel is being elevated too quickly.
Still, the Titans are a young team who could use a fresh mind to lead them. Keeping defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau around would take some of the pressure off of Vrabel. Continuity is key in the NFL after all. Hiring a talented offensive coordinator would be a big boost as well
Also, consider that the Titans were linked to Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, someone with a lot more experience than Vrabel, so a move like this says a lot about what they were looking for. It’ll be interesting to see how they perform in 2018 under his watch.