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Chris Jones surpassing Aaron Donald as NFL’s top DT; the savvy of Mike Vrabel and Howie Roseman


There is no such thing as a query that Mike Vrabel is an excellent coach, but it surely may be time to position the Tennessee Titans’ head man into the conversation among the many easiest in the sport. Yes, he’s still dying to win that first Super Bowl as a coach, but it surely is tough for me to search out one other coach who exceeds expectations as regularly as Vrabel does in Nashville.

Perhaps among the Titans’ overachievement is resulting from the football world underestimating the talent, chemistry and tactics that help Vrabel’s crew routinely chalk up wins as an underdog, but the reigning NFL Coach of the Yr just isn’t afraid to do whatever it takes to win a game. Whether that requires him to operate at a snail’s pace while putting the ball in Derrick Henry‘s belly 30-plus times or trust Ryan Tannehill to transition from caretaker to playmaker in a pass-heavy plan or tweak the defense to remove the opponent’s top player, Vrabel is a master strategist and tactician with a versatile approach that produces results. In his fifth season as an NFL head coach, Vrabel has never posted a losing record.

Last yr, the Titans finished at 12-5 despite missing Henry for the ultimate nine games of the regular season. The run-centric squad didn’t skip a beat without the back-to-back rushing champ, as D’Onta Foreman and Dontrell Hilliard picked up the slack in Henry’s absence, allowing Tennessee to surprisingly claim the No. 1 seed within the AFC.

This yr, Vrabel lost his best pass catcher (A.J. Brown, via trade) and best pass rusher (Harold Landry, via injury) before the season even kicked off. Then Tennessee went out and lost its first two games, including a 41-7 beatdown in Buffalo in Week 2. As well as, Tannehill’s been banged up, missing two games with an ankle injury. And yet, the Titans have run off seven wins within the last eight games, with the lone loss being an OT defeat at Kansas City with rookie Malik Willis at quarterback, completing just five of his 16 passes. Now sitting at 7-3 with Cincinnati coming to town on Sunday, Tennessee owns a commanding three-game lead within the AFC South.

The Titans have rode Henry, who again leads the league in rushing (1,010 yards through 10 games), while also counting on a defense that has held opponents to 17 or fewer points in six of the past seven contests. The unit has steadily improved despite bringing in quite a lot of replacements (DE Mario Edwards Jr., CB Terrance Mitchell and S Andrew Adams) in the midst of the season. The veterans have seamlessly transitioned into their respective roles, helping spark a defensive improvement that has keyed Tennessee’s resurgence.

“We’re only a plug-and-play team where it’s like everyone’s held to the identical standard,” two-time All-Pro safety Kevin Byard told reporters prior to the team’s Week 11 win in Green Bay. “Everyone’s held to the identical standard. Backups prepare like starters. They get asked questions within the meeting rooms like starters, so once they get in the sport, there is no drop-off.”

That may be a huge credit to the culture established by Vrabel. Tennessee is a “no excuses” outfit that finds ways to win no matter circumstances; a tough-minded, gritty squad that reflects the personality of its coach.

With Vrabel helping his squad exceed expectations yet again, the Titans’ head man deserves serious consideration to turn out to be the primary coach since Joe Gibbs (1982 and ’83) to win back-to-back Coach of the Yr awards.

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