What went right in Tennessee?
Taking over a Titans franchise that had been pretty irrelevant for the past 15 years, Vrabel immediately brought his mix of the Patriot Way and the Ohio State culture, creating a bully out of a couple of stars and a lot of smoke and mirrors.
After a 9-7 first season, the 2019 Titans were sitting at 2-4 when Vrabel decided to bench his franchise QB Marcus Mariota, inserting Ryan Tannehill into the lineup, from there, Tennessee went 7-3 for the rest of the season. Sneaking into the playoffs, Vrabel made the most of it, upsetting the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in the Wild Card round, then pulled off a stunning and dominant victory over the 14-2 number 1-seeded Baltimore Ravens. In the AFC championship game at Kansas City, the Titans had a 17-7 lead late in the first half, before giving up 28 unanswered points, eventually falling to the eventual champs 24-35.
The following two seasons were successful seasons, as the Titans went 23-10, winning the AFC South twice and earning the top overall seed in the 2021 season. Vrabel was awarded NFL Coach of the Year for getting so much out of Tennessee, despite Derrick Henry missing a large chunk of the season.
Unfortunately, brutal late turnovers cost the Titans in both playoff games, including a 52-yard field goal by Cincinnati rookie kicker Evan McPherson at the buzzer to stun a Titans team that probably goes to the Super Bowl if they win that game. People forget that Tennessee clobbered the eventual SB champion LA Rams in LA during the middle of that season.
Despite the playoff frustrations, the Titans were one of the top franchises and Vrabel was one of the most respected and admired coaches in the game.