NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mike Vrabel talked about his vision when interviewing to become the next head coach of the Tennessee Titans.
It helped him land the job.
On Monday, two days after being hired, Vrabel shared his vision with the masses on the day he was introduced at Saint Thomas Sports Park. Vrabel said he wants to take the Titans to “the next level.”
“Jon and I share an alignment and loyalty in finding the right types of players,” Vrabel said, referring to Titans general manager Jon Robinson. “We talk about the right 53, and not the best 53. We want a big, fast, strong and smart football team that is disciplined. … When you are disciplined you are able to take advantage of the other team’s mistakes. We are going to do everything we can to not make critical mistakes. We are going to try to be as disciplined football team as we possibly can.”
Vrabel takes over a team that finished 9-7 a year ago while also winning a playoff game. But the Titans finished behind the Jaguars in the AFC South.
“I think to get to where you ultimately want to go, you have to win the division,” Vrabel said. “You have to host playoff games, late in January. … It is an amazing opportunity that I am able to stand here before you with a team that has been to the playoffs, but that is not the goal.”
Vrabel said he plans to use past experiences to help him as a head coach. As a player with the Steelers and Patriots, he learned from coaches Bill Cowher and Bill Belichick. As an assistant coach, he served on coaching staffs led by Urban Meyer (Ohio State) and Bill O’Brien (Penn State).
“I have been lucky, and I shared that in the interview process, whether it be by fate or luck or chance, to be around some of the greatest coaches that will have ever coached,” Vrabel said. “I am lucky to go through basically a doctorate degree of coaching with the people I have been around. … There will be things I take from New England, from Pittsburgh, from Ohio State, from Houston. There will be things that I take from everywhere – you draw from these experiences.”
Vrabel didn’t discuss his options on his coaching staff, and said he won’t put a timetable on it “because I want the right guys.” He said he’s already talked to quarterback Marcus Mariota and several players, and talked about his excitement moving forward. As defensive coordinator with the Texans, he said he was “scared to death” when game planning against the Titans, and Mariota.
He said the team will have “coverage consistency and front multiplicity” when asked about the Titans defense, and whether the team might use a 3-4 or 4-3 defensive alignment. He said the Titans “will run the football” on offense, and build around Mariota’s strengths. Vrabel crossed paths with tackle Taylor Lewan and cornerback Adoree' Jackson at the team's facility on Monday, and said he plans to reach out to players in the coming days.
Vrabel joins the Titans after spending three seasons (2014-16) coaching linebackers with the Texans and one year (2017) as Houston’s defensive coordinator. During his time in Houston, the Texans built one of the best defenses in the NFL.
Vrabel played 14 NFL seasons in all, with the Steelers (1997-2000), Patriots (2001-2008) and Chiefs (2009-2010).
Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk led off the press conference talking about how impressed she was with Vrabel’s goals during the interview. Their vision, along with Robinson, is to bring a championship to the city.
Robinson said he’s excited about moving forward with Vrabel, someone he remembers from his days with the Patriots as one of the toughest and smartest players he’s ever been around. As a coach, Robinson praised Vrabel for his “great presence and leadership skills,” and said he’s proud to be partnered with him.
“When (Mike) came in and we had a chance to sit down and talk about his vision for being a head coach of an NFL team, how he wanted to build a roster, the types of players that he thought could win in this league, it was clear to us he was the guy for the job,” Robinson said of Vrabel. “He had a great presence about him in the interview. His football intelligence showed quickly, and at the end of the day we felt this was the next head coach of the Tennessee Titans.”
Robinson said he’s already started discussing the roster with Vrabel. On Tuesday, the two men will head to Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl.
At the end of the press conference, Vrabel was asked how the franchse can develop a “Titans Way” akin to the “Patriots Way.”
“I think to get a ‘way’ you have to win,” Vrabel said. “You have to be able to win championships before people start giving you ways to do things. That will be our ultimate goal. I talked about how our players are going to be prepared – they are going to play fast and aggressive, and that’s what I believe in.
“Until we can win a championship doing that, then there is not going to be this “Titan Way.” It will be talked about in the building, but people from outside the building, they won’t believe in us, they won’t have faith in us, until you win.”