NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien lost one of his top coaches to a division rival on Saturday, but he freely admits, he'd been bracing for it.
Mike Vrabel is headed to the Titans as the team's new head coach. He spent the past four seasons with the Texans, under O'Brien.
"When you are around guys like Mike you know that it is inevitable that he is going to be a head coach," O'Brien said in an interview Saturday night with Titans Online. "He is a great leader, and he did an excellent job for us developing players, coaching the defense. He is a very, very hard worker, and he has a really good presence about him. He cares about people, and he has a great family.
"Mike has a lot going for him. The Titans got a great coach."
Vrabel joins the Titans after spending three seasons (2014-16) coaching linebackers with the Texans and one year (2017) as Houston's defensive coordinator. During his time in Houston, the Texans built one of the best defenses in the NFL.
Between 2014-16 the Texans defense ranked third in the NFL in yards allowed per game (319.9) and net passing yards (218.4). The 2016 defense ranked number one in the NFL, for the first time in franchise history, in yards allowed (301.3). Last season, in his first year as DC, the Texans were decimated by injuries, finishing with 19 players on injured reserve. Despite the injuries, Vrabel led the defense to the fifth best third-down defense in the NFL and a franchise record 3.97 yards per carry by opponents.
TitansOnline looks back at the coaching career of Mike Vrabel, who was named head coach of the Tennessee Titans on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. (AP Photos)
Vrabel has 18 years of NFL experience – he played 14 NFL seasons with the Steelers, Patriots and Chiefs. He won three Super Bowl rings with the Patriots.
"I think Mike has the combination of having played in the league for 14 years, so he's been a successful player, and players respect him," O'Brien said. "And then he is a really well-spoken guy. He is intelligent, he is a really hard-working guy. He is intense, and he does a really good job of communicating.
"When you walk into the room in front of a team, you have to have 'it', and he's got 'it.'"
Vrabel was one of three candidates to interview for the job in Tennessee.
He's scheduled to be introduced at a press conference on Monday at Saint Thomas Sports Park.
"People ask me all the time: 'Is he ready?' And I always ask the question back to people: 'When are you ready?,'" O'Brien said. "There's a first time for everybody. When I went to Penn State, was I ready for that? No. You know what I mean?
"You have to have intelligence, and you have to be yourself. You have to have leadership qualities, a great work ethic and a great family around you. But Mike has all of that. There's no doubt that there will be things that come across his desk, and I'm sure he'll go, 'Whoa.' But it's the same for every first-time head coach. But he has the brain power and leadership qualities to be a successful coach, and I think he'll be a good one."
TitansOnline looks back at the NFL playing career of Mike Vrabel, who was named head coach of the Tennessee Titans on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. (AP Photos)