Coaches Mike Vrabel, Bill O'Brien Will Put Friendship On Hold This Week Before Titans-Texans Matchup


NASHVILLE – Titans coach Mike Vrabel and Texans coach Bill O'Brien are good buddies.

The two talk regularly throughout the year. Their wives are good friends. O'Brien said on Tuesday he makes an effort to watch Vrabel's oldest son Tyler play every week for Boston College.

But their friendship – and phone calls -- will be put on hold this week as their teams prepare to face one another at Nissan Stadium in a key AFC South contest.

"Hell no, hell no, we don't talk this week," O'Brien, speaking on a conference call on Tuesday, replied when asked about talking to Vrabel. "We are not trading Christmas cards yet."

O'Brien said the coaches will see one another on the field on Sunday when the 8-5 teams for a battle for first place in the division. The Titans and Texans are also scheduled to meet in Week 17, in Houston.

Vrabel was named head coach of the Titans last January after spending three seasons (2014-16) coaching linebackers with the Texans and one year (2017) as Houston's defensive coordinator, under O'Brien. During his time in Houston, the Texans built one of the best defenses in the NFL.

O'Brien complimented Vrabel on Tuesday for the job he's done in Tennessee. The Titans went 9-7 in 2018, and this year's squad has won six of its last seven games to move into a first-place tie in the division.

"Mike is a great, and I think everybody knew that he would be a great coach in this league. He did a great job for us for four years and our families are close -- Mike is a good friend of mine," O'Brien said.

"When you are in coaching, and you work with guys and you spend 18 hours a day with a guy, you have some good friendships," O'Brien continued. "I am close with (Jaguars coach) Doug Marrone. So we're friends outside of football. When we do talk, it is always about family. We rarely talk about football. But we don't talk this week. I tried to call him this morning, but he didn't call me back – I'm just kidding. I'm kidding."

The Texans and Titans split their two games last season, when Vrabel and O'Brien went head-to-head for the first time as head coaches.

This week, Vrabel is getting his Titans ready to beat O'Brien's Texans. Vrabel knows his buddy is doing the same in Houston as he prepared his Texans for the Titans.

"Billy brought me into this league from a coaching perspective," Vrabel said of O'Brien. "I would say that he probably prepared me more than anybody for this job. So, I'm thankful for that because he would tell me like, 'You're going to have to deal with this, this and this,' and whether I believed him or not, he would try to do things to get me ready for this opportunity. I'm thankful for that.

"He's got a great family. We're used to competing against each other. He's got a great football team. I'm thankful for Billy for bringing me to the Texans and helping me get here."

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