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Willie McGinest Discusses Titans Coach Mike Vrabel

Posted Jan 29, 2018

Former Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest has a pretty good idea what the Titans will look like under new head coach Mike Vrabel.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Willie McGinest has a pretty good idea what the Titans will look like under new head coach Mike Vrabel.

McGinest, teammates with Vrabel for four seasons with the New England Patriots, suspects they’ll resemble the tough and rugged linebacker who played 14 NFL seasons.

“We all took pride in being tough, and Vrabel was part of the foundation in our toughness,” McGinest said from the Pro Bowl. “Not just going out and being physically tough, but mentally tough -- being able to withstand all the different emotional and roller coaster swings that happen in games. He was mentally tough and that will help as a head coach. He’s not going to let his team get penalties and play bad football. They will be fundamentally sound.”

McGinest, an analyst with NFL Network, played from 1994-2005 with the Patriots.

Vrabel played from 2001-08 in New England, part of his 14-year NFL playing career. He won three Super Bowl rings with the Patriots.

Vrabel was named head coach of the Titans earlier this month, replacing Mike Mularkey.

“He’s always wanted to be a coach, he always aspired to be a coach,” McGinest said of Vrabel. “He’s definitely a student of the game, a very smart player. Xs and Os came easy for him, but he was also able to go in and understand how to make adjustments and go in and game plan, and he was versatile.

“Because of the coaches he played for in Bill Cowher and Bill Belichick, he understands and he is going to implement a lot of lessons we were taught as players.”

McGinest said the Titans will be prepared under Vrabel.

“I think he’ll be big on preparation,” he said. “As a coach, your team has to be prepared in a certain type of way. The other thing I think that is important to Vrabel and that was evident when we played, is situational football. He was always consistent in certain situations.

“We had a saying, the more you can do, from linebacker to special teams to tight end. His role as a player was to do everything he could do as a player, and he did that. He’s going to expect that out of his players, too.”

McGinest said the Titans will be tough.

Watching them in 2017, which included a 9-7 finish, and a playoff win at Kansas City, McGinest said he liked a lot about what he saw. The Titans were knocked out of the playoffs with a loss at New England.

“And they have some of that toughness already with guys on their roster,” McGinest said. “They are a tough, hard-nosed football team, a grinding team, a team that works really hard. With Mike they will be tough, and I think they are going to be a smart team. They are going to understand situational football, and they are going to play a certain style. So I think when you put all of that together – that is something he learned in the past, something he did as a player, and he is going to incorporate that as a head coach.”