When it comes to coaching in the NFL, I guess size does matter.
The NFL coaching carousel has been entertaining this offseason, and it definitely hasn’t gone how many football fans expected. Some head coach firings were as predictable as ever, but there was one in particular that caught NFL fans and analysts off guard.
When the Tennessee Titans announced they had parted ways with Mike Vrabel, the NFL world was stunned. Vrabel was just a couple of seasons removed from three straight playoff appearances (2019-2021), and an AFC Championship game appearances in 2019.
But the NFL, and all of professional sports really, is a “what have you done for me lately?” type of business, and after a couple of lackluster seasons (that were partially due to bad roster moves that Vrabel had no control over), the Titans decided to part ways with their coach.
Based on initial reporting, it seemed to even come as a shock to some within the Titans organization:
“The Tennessee Titans have fired head coach Mike Vrabel, a team source said. Just six weeks ago, owner Amy Adams Strunk had plans for Vrabel to be part of the organization for years to come, believing they had a top NFL coach. Recently, ownership changed its mind.”
The Tennessee Titans have fired head coach Mike Vrabel, a team source said. Just six weeks ago, owner Amy Adams Strunk had plans for Vrabel to be part of the organization for years to come, believing they had a top NFL coach. Recently, ownership changed its mind.
Vrabel being fired was undoubtedly strange, but the “aftermath” might be even more puzzling. Upon he and the Titans parting ways, he was immediately connected to a number of different NFL head coaching vacancies (most popularly the New England Patriots).
Though Mike Vrabel got a number of interviews for head coaching positions, all of the open NFL head coach spots slowly became filled, so it looks like the former Tennessee Titans coach will have to settle for an assistant position, or sit around and wait for the coaching carousel to spin again next year.
Why did Vrabel, a successful coach who worked under management that kept shipping off his best players, not get another shot at head coach immediately? Well, NFL insider Dianna Russini reported that his “physical size” was intimidating to some teams that were interested:
“I don’t think there was a fit for him. I don’t think he sat in front of any owner who thought that his style was going to work for what they were looking for…I had a GM at the Senior Bowl who mentioned to me Vrabel’s physical build.
That he’s a very large human being. And can be very intimidating to people in an organization that are going to be part of these decisions. And that is a factor.”
Dianna Russini asked about Mike Vrabel on The Athletic Football Show:
"I don't think there was a fit for him. I don't think he sat in front of any owner who thought that his style was going to work for what they were looking for…I had a GM at the Senior Bowl who mentioned…
Mike Vrabel is a former NFL football player himself, and was last listed at 6’4″, 261 pounds, so he is a rather large human being. But have the organizations not seen the players representing them out on the field?
Saying that Vrabel didn’t get a job because he was “too intimidating” when he would be walking around and interacting with players that are likely even bigger than he is is patently absurd (and potentially discriminatory).
Maybe Vrabel can use his off-time to slim down and try to somehow become shorter so NFL teams will hire him…