In-Season NFL

Reviewing my Mike Vrabel Initial Predictions

The Tennessee Titans of 2019-2020 have got to be one of the more intriguing stories of all time. After missing the playoffs by a hair in 2018 under rookie head coach Mike Vrabel, the Titans got off to a poor 2-4 start, with the fourth of those losses coming against the Broncos by a score of 16-0.

It was in that match that Marcus Mariota, Heisman Trophy winner and 2015 No. 2 overall pick, was benched for former Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill, in what seemed as a move of desperation. Tannehill lead the Titans to 7 wins in their last 10 games, as Tennessee snuck into the playoffs as the 6th seed and were set to head to Gillette Stadium in the Wild Card round to face the heavily favored Patriots. 

Thanks to perfect game planning both offensively and defensively, the Titans dismantled New England. Then they were sent to Baltimore to take on the top-seeded Ravens, who were lead by presumed MVP QB Lamar Jackson and a high-powered defense.

Because of another perfect game plan and a blazing 14-0 start, the Titans cruised through the seemingly unbeatable birds and have a date in the AFC Championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs, who just pulled off an incredible comeback which led to a blowout, in which Kansas City was down 24-0 early in the 2nd quarter, scored three touchdowns in three and a half minutes, and went on to win against the Texans 51-31. 

Much of this success can be attributed to Tannehill, because he is the quarterback, which is the most important position in all of sports. Much can be given to RB Derrick Henry, who has been destroying defenses with his video game-like size-speed combo.

But football is a coach’s game, so the most credit has to be given to Mike Vrabel. A couple of years ago after his hiring, I wrote an article about what I thought he (and every other coach hired that year) would accomplish in their careers. So far, it looks like I’ve had some hits and misses, but it seems that I was dead right with this one.

In this article, I wrote about his defensive philosophies, which include pretty much everything and anything. Wrote me: Now it’s time to look at what Mike Vrabel brings. Under Vrabel, the Texans showed a number of different looks defensively, but most commonly utilized a 3-4 scheme in the dime package.

This means that they most commonly used 3 down defensive linemen, 4 linebackers and 5 defensive backs, except, that adds up to 12 players. Which means that Vrabel often would take a linebacker out of the game to make room for a fifth defensive back. In his introductory press conference as Titans head coach, Vrabel emphasized that he would have his defense use many different looks.

“I have a philosophy that we are going to have a coverage consistency and we’re going to have front multiplicity. We have great players. We’re going to introduce our coverage concepts to them, that’s going to remain consistent throughout what we do,” said Vrabel in his introductory press conference as Titans’ head coach, which meant Vrabel would going to stick to his ideas but also use different schemes to keep the offense guessing. So it sounds like we can expect lots of creativity within the Titans’ defense throughout Vrabel’s tenure as head coach of the Titans. 

I concluded the article by giving my take on how successful Vrabel would be in his career with the Titans, by saying this: I think that it is reasonable for the Titans to win 11 games this year. Over his career, I think Vrabel will have a win % of about .682. The AFC South crown should belong to either the Titans or Jacksonville Jaguars for the foreseeable future. Yes, you heard me right, NOT the Texans. You might think “Oh, but what about Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins and that defense?!”

Well, confused fan, think about it. Vrabel has all the intel in the world about Watson and Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien’s offense. They should own the Texans. The Colts are interesting, but Andrew Luck needs to prove he can get healthy and stay healthy, and there is also a myriad of holes in that roster. So, yeah. I think Vrabel should do just fine in the Country Music Capital of the World. I was a couple of games off in that first year prediction, but he seems well on his way to that winning percentage, with a total of 20 wins (reg. & postseason) so far. You can read my entire article by clicking here.

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