Mike Vrabel Rounds Out Tennessee Titans Coaching Staff
In the last decade there has been an emphasis on younger head coaches–such as Sean McVay for the Los Angeles Rams (age 31) and even Mike Tomlin for the Pittsburgh Steelers (was hired at age 35). So Vrabel was an interesting choice at 42 after coaching at Ohio State and then with the Houston Texans.
He has filled out the rest of his coaching staff by bringing in Matt LaFleur from the Rams as his offensive coordinator and Dean Pees as their defensive coordinator.
With McVay calling the plays for the Rams, LaFleur certainly was looking for play-calling responsibilities. He will find them in Tennessee and be able to implement his own system. So going forward, this offense could look very similar to the Rams offense this past season. Both teams have good young quarterbacks, young running backs that shined in the SEC and a bunch of young, fast receivers that are looking for a chance to prove themselves.
In addition to his boost of Goff’s play in 2017, LaFleur was the quarterbacks coach in Atlanta two seasons ago when Matt Ryan put up his MVP season. Without him, Ryan regressed to his lowest totals in completion percentage and yards since 2011. Goff led the league in play action passing yards this past season, an area where Marcus Mariota will excel. He also plans on running more of an up-tempo offense, which is a facet of the college offense Mariota ran so successfully.
Along with Vrabel, Pees brings Super Bowl winning experience to Tennessee. Pees has led some great defenses in New England and Baltimore in recent years. He spent the last eight seasons on the staff in Baltimore, two seasons as the linebackers coach and six as the defensive coordinator.
There has been no shortage of stars on the defenses in Baltimore that Pees has overseen. Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Ed Reed, the list goes on. He certainly knows how to whip a defensive unit into shape and he inherits a unit with some talent in players like Jurrell Casey, Kevin Byard, Avery Williamson and more. Playmakers at all three levels of the defense will make the Titans a tough unit to move the ball on in 2018.
Along with the coordinators, the new assistants that have been brought in include Craig Aukerman (special teams), Pat O’Hara (quarterbacks), Rob Moore (receivers), Kerry Coombs (secondary), Shane Bowen (outside linebackers) and Tyrone McKenzie (inside linebackers). Former defensive backs coach DeShea Townsend might have been the closest to returning but ultimately Coombs got his position.
Aukerman has been promoted from assistant special teams coach to primary special teams coach this season. Before joining the Titans he was the special teams coach for the San Diego Chargers for four years. He broke into the NFL with the Denver Broncos in 2010.
O’Hara played quarterback in the NFL for the early 1990s, and later coached in the Arena League where he became a three-time Arena Bowl champion. He was a head coach in the Arena League before accepting a job with the Texans as an offensive assistant over the last three years.
Moore was a receiver in the NFL for 12 years for the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals. He caught 628 passes for almost 10,000 yards and scored 49 touchdowns. He led the league in receiving yards in 1997 with the Cardinals and made the Pro Bowl that year and in 1994.
Coombs has 35 years of coaching experience, and he rejoins Vrabel after coaching six years at Ohio State. He produced first-round cornerbacks in Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley, Bradley Roby and Eli Apple. He will be a welcome addition to a struggling secondary.
Bowen played linebacker at Georgia Tech and was a three-year letter winner. He then coached the Yellow Jackets for three years before joining the Buckeyes staff. After that, he coached at Kennesaw State and then spent the last two seasons with the Texans. He joins Vrabel again in Nashville.
McKenzie played in the NFL for four years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings. He made 17 tackles. He was the assistant special teams coach last season with the Rams and takes the next step in his coaching career as a linebackers coach here.
It’s time for a fresh approach and a new group of young and experienced coaches that have a proven track record of success sets the team up well going into 2018.