BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – When Patriots owner Robert Kraft looks at the Titans, he sees some familiar faces at the top.
And, in his mind, that's a good thing for football fans in Tennessee.
Last week, the Titans introduced Mike Vrabel as their new head coach. The move reunited Vrabel with Titans general manager Jon Robinson, who joined the team in 2016. Both men learned the Patriot Way.
Vrabel and Robinson were together seven seasons with the New England Patriots, from 2002-08. Robinson was a scout who got promoted to assistant director of college scouting in the final year of Vrabel's eight-year run (2001-08) with the team. Robinson eventually became New England's director of college scouting (2009-13).
Kraft was complimentary when asked about Vrabel this week, leading up to Super Bowl LII. He talked about his presence, and his toughness. He also praised Robinson.
"Mike was awesome. I think he'll be great," Kraft said of Vrabel. "He commanded respect in the locker room. First of all, he has a presence. He works very hard. I'll never forget how tough he was, and I'll never forget a time he got injured and they put a plate in his arm. I thought he'd be gone for the season. I think they said he would be back in six weeks, and he was back in three weeks, and he was playing at a high level.
"He had a mental toughness and a competitive spirit, and he has an edge to him. I think he is going to be a great head coach."
The Titans went 9-7 in Robinson's first year with the team in 2016 after finishing with a 3-13 mark the previous season. In 2017, the Titans also finished 9-7, and then won a playoff game for the first time since the 2003 season.
Earlier this month the Titans hired Vrabel to take the place of Mike Mularkey.
Vrabel, who played 14 NFL seasons and coached at Ohio State and the Houston Texans before landing the Tennessee job, is in the process of putting his coaching staff together. The Titans hired Matt LaFleur as offensive coordinator, and Dean Pees as their defensive coordinator this week.
Kraft said he expects the Titans to be a tough team moving forward with Vrabel and Robinson. Last season, the Patriots ended Tennessee's season with a win in the AFC divisional round.
In all, Robinson spent 12 seasons with the Patriots (2002-13). He was hired by the Titans in January 2016 after spending two seasons as director of player personnel with the Buccaneers.
"I think they are going to be a great team," Kraft said of the Titans. "I've always been a big fan of Jon Robinson. I was sorry to see him leave us. People in Tennessee have a good thing going now."
Mike Vrabel is introduced as head coach of the Tennessee Titans (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)