After having a pretty successful playing career in the NFL, Mike Vrabel has become an excellent head coach with a very promising future. He has ultimately had a lot of success and has helped the Tennessee Titans become one of the best teams in the league. However, as the Titans deal with their COVID-19 crisis, that promising career path could soon hit a massive roadblock.
Mike Vrabel has become a successful coach after having a nice playing career
Vrabel had a lot of success in his playing career as a linebacker in the NFL, especially with the New England Patriots. He ultimately won three Super Bowls with the Patriots, and in 2007, he was a Pro Bowl selection and a First-Team All-Pro. He had 77 total tackles and 12.5 sacks that year.
Vrabel last played in 2010, though, and has since become a successful coach.
In 2011, Vrabel went back to his alma mater and coached linebackers for the Ohio State Buckeyes. He then coached the team’s defensive line under Urban Meyer in 2012 and 2013. However, in 2014 he made the move to the NFL and became a rising star with the Houston Texans.
From 2014 through 2016, Vrabel was the linebackers coach for the Texans. Then in 2017, he was the team’s defensive coordinator.
Following that 2017 season, the Tennessee Titans hired Vrabel as the team’s next head coach. The Titans went 9-7 under Vrabel in his first season and missed the playoffs. However, in 2019, after starting 2-4, Vrabel switched his starting quarterback from Marcus Mariota to Ryan Tannehill. The QB change helped the Titans go on a 7-3 run to end the season and make the playoffs.
In the playoffs, the Titans went on a miraculous run. They first defeated Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the New England Patriots in the Wild Card Round. Then in the Divisional Round, Tennessee defeated MVP Lamar Jackson and the No. 1-seeded Baltimore Ravens to reach the AFC Championship Game.
In just two seasons, Vrabel got the Titans to a conference championship game, proving how good a coach he is already.
The Tennessee Titans are dealing with a COVID-19 crisis
With NFL teams playing during the COVID-19 pandemic this season, the Tennesee Titans have been affected by the virus the most. According to ESPN, the Titans have had 23 positive tests since Sept. 24.
Their positive results led to their Week 4 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers getting postponed. Their Week 5 game against the Buffalo Bills also got pushed back from Sunday to Tuesday.
The NFL has since started an investigation into the Titans’ outbreak. According to USA Today, the league reportedly has pictures of Titans players not wearing masks while at the team’s facility. It is also investigating whether contact tracing devices were worn consistently, and if “symptoms were timely reported,” according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
Additionally, news later came out that players reportedly gathered to workout on their own last week on Sept. 30 while their facility was closed. The league sent out a memo on Oct. 1, forbidding teams from working out when their facilities are closed. However, Dan Graziano of ESPN reported that the NFL informed the Titans on Sept. 29 that they could not gather outside the facility for any reason.
If that is the case, then the players were in violation of protocol.
Tennessee is trying to get into its facility by Saturday afternoon, per ESPN, as it has been closed since Sept. 29.
Mike Vrabel’s promising career path could hit a roadblock
Earlier this week, many people began to speculate after Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk reported that there is a buzz that the Titans could receive “historic” punishment after everything that has happened.
So, what could this punishment be? Florio reported on ESPN’s 102.5 The Game in Nashville that a higher-up with another team is guessing that Titans general manager Jon Robinson and Vrabel get suspended for the rest of the year, according to a tweet from The Game’s Jared Stillman. The higher-up also reportedly guessed that the Titans will lose a first-round pick and get a $10 million fine.
That’s a massive punishment.
Mike Vrabel has had a lot of success with the Tennessee Titans so far. However, if he gets the potential punishment mentioned above, that great career trajectory could come to a screeching halt.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference