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Mike Vrabel fired by Titans after 2nd straight losing season

In Sports
January 09, 2024
Mike Vrabel was fired after six seasons as Tennessee Titans coach. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)
Mike Vrabel was fired after six seasons as Tennessee Titans coach. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Mike Vrabel was lauded as one of the best coaches in the NFL just a couple years ago. But everything is temporary in the NFL.

In a surprise, the Tennessee Titans reacted to a second straight losing season by reportedly firing Vrabel. The Titans started 2-4 before their bye and never were much of a factor in the playoff race after that. It was the rare season under Vrabel in which the Titans were irrelevant.

There will be huge changes in Tennessee this offseason. Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry are free agents and both seem unlikely to return. And the changes will include a new head coach.

Mike Vrabel had strong start

Vrabel, the longtime New England Patriots linebacker, worked his way up the coaching ladder quickly and the Titans hired him to be their head coach in 2018. He had four straight winning seasons to start his head-coaching career.

The Titans’ best season was 2021. They went 12-5 and were the AFC’s top seed. Vrabel won NFL Coach of the Year. But the Titans lost their playoff opener to the Cincinnati Bengals. Vrabel won two playoff games, and both came in the 2019 season. They lost the AFC championship game to the Kansas City Chiefs that season.

In 2022, it seemed like another strong season for the Titans. They were 7-3. But they lost seven straight games to finish the season and missed the playoffs.

When the losing continued into the 2023 season, Vrabel was suddenly on the hot seat.

Who will Titans hire?

Vrabel should get another head-coaching job right away. His work with the Titans was respected around the league.

The Titans will be undergoing a significant transformation from the Tannehill/Henry era, if both depart as expected. Quarterback Will Levis showed some positive signs as a rookie and he’ll presumably be the team’s starter in 2024. The defense never fell too far under Vrabel but the offense’s holes were exposed this past season. There’s a lot of work to be done on that side of the ball.

The Vrabel era in Tennessee didn’t ultimately result in a Super Bowl appearance. It did feature a lot of wins. But two straight losing seasons caused the Titans to make an unexpected change.

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