Mike Vrabel ready to bring New England Patriots approach to Tennessee Titans

By The Sports Xchange  |  Jan. 22, 2018 at 4:20 PM
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The Tennessee Titans got a taste of the playoffs this season beating the Kansas City Chiefs in a wild-card game before losing in an AFC Divisional game to New England.

On Monday, the Titans got a taste of what new head coach Mike Vrabel expects, and just making the playoffs is not the goal.

The three-time Super Bowl winner was introduced Monday and talked about building the team the right way with the "right 53 players." He pointed to the Patriots' way and said mistakes will be made -- once, but not twice.

"Our players are going to be prepared and they're going to be fast and aggressive," he told reporters.

Continuing to build the team around franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota, whom he called a "special talent," is the most important task at hand.

"I talked to Marcus last night," he told reporters. "We're going to do things that are going to help him. There's not going to be a greater relationship that I need to foster than the one with our quarterback.

"I can't wait to work with him and help him take that next step in his career."

Vrabel's passion and acumen for details struck general manager Jon Robinson right away as he began a search to replace Mike Mularkey, who was fired last week. The first person that Robinson interviewed was Vrabel whom he knew from when he was with the Patriots personnel department.

"When (Vrabel) came in and talked about how he wanted to build a roster, what his vision was, it was clear to us that he was the guy for this job," Robinson told The (Nashville) Tennessean. "He had a great presence about him in the interview. His football intelligence showed quickly."

Vrabel joins the Titans after four seasons with the Houston Texans, spending the first three seasons (2014-16) coaching linebackers and one year (2017) as the team's defensive coordinator. During that time the Texans built one of the strongest defenses in the league.

During a playing and coaching career that started as a third-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers out of Ohio State, Vrabel has spent time learning from Bill Belichick, Bill Cowher, Romeo Crennel, Urban Meyer, Bill O'Brien and Todd Haley.

Vrabel played in 206 NFL games, totaled 57 sacks, 496 tackles, 11 interceptions, 20 forced fumbles, nine fumble recoveries and 10 touchdown receptions. Additionally, his teams advanced to the playoffs eight times and played in 20 postseason games. He compiled eight postseason sacks and two postseason touchdown receptions.

He plans to translate that versatility to his new team.

"Unless you're the quarterback, you better come in here prepared to play more than one position," he said. "We're going to pick guys that can help us at more than one position. I know (defensive end) Jurrell Casey has some experience catching passes. He could be one we would use."

As far as hiring assistants, there is talk that Vrabel might be targeting current Ohio State co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day as his offensive coordinator.

The Tennessean reported on Monday that Hall of Fame defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, 80, will not return next season.

"I don't want to put a timetable on hiring a staff because I want to hire the right guys, the best guys," he said. "We're not going to rush into any decisions."

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