I don’t particularly love doing these speculative posts on free agents, be they coaches or players. I mean, there’s any number of potential acquisitions out there the Seahawks could bring in to coach this team, and it’s not like I’m going to write a post on all of them!
But, Mike Vrabel is an interesting topic for me. He’s one of the more known head coaching candidates, but also one that’s actually a viable option (unlike Belichick or Harbaugh, who seem destined to land elsewhere). If I had to guess, I’d say it’ll come down to Vrabel and Dan Quinn, with Quinn having a slight betting edge thanks to his history here (and the fact that we know he’s actually interviewed here).
If I had to choose from all available head coaching prospects, I would choose Vrabel. But, does that make him the best option? I’ll admit, this post just SCREAMS “overthinking”. Of course he’s the best option! I was a reasonably big fan of what the Titans were able to accomplish over the last few years, and I believe that had everything to do with Vrabel and his coaching staff getting the most out of a lackluster personnel group (outside of Derrick Henry and three years of A.J. Brown).
In his first year with the Titans, they managed to go 9-7 with a combination of Marcus Mariota and Blaine Gabbert at the helm. Starting in 2019, with a rejuvenated Ryan Tannehill, the Titans made the playoffs three straight years, winning two division titles, with a #1 seed overall in 2021. These were teams built on toughness, a stout defense and strong running game, with just enough flash and sizzle in the passing attack to keep things interesting (that is, until they traded away A.J. Brown and failed to adequately replace him).
That 2019 team was really something, taking a wild card berth and making it all the way to the AFC Championship Game, before losing to Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs.
Unfortunately, that’s kind of where the good vibes end. The Titans were One & Done in the 2020 and 2021 playoffs. And it’s been a lean couple of seasons after that, going a combined 13-21. They’ve still played hard the last two years – gotta commend them for that – but lack of talent really sapped this coaching staff’s effectiveness.
It’s at this point where things start to get murky. Clearly, the Titans held onto Ryan Tannehill too long. And, in spite of using some relatively high draft picks on quarterbacks in recent years (third rounder for Malik Willis, high second rounder for Will Levis; both guys who dropped in the draft relative to projections), you can’t really say they took the process seriously. Neither quarterback has developed into much of anything, and it’s fair to question – if the Seahawks do what I’d like them to do, and that’s draft a potential QB of the future this year – whether or not Vrabel and his staff are capable of developing a young guy. They had their biggest success with a mostly-veteran team and a retread quarterback. Geno Smith often gets compared to Ryan Tannehill, and it sort of feels like Geno is at the point where Tannehill was in 2019 or 2020. If that’s the case, there likely isn’t a long shelf life left for Geno (with a clear ceiling), and if we don’t get started trying to find his replacement soon, it’s going to start looking really ugly around here.
Was Vrabel pushing to keep the status quo too long? He seems to get the most out of older guys, but can he get the most out of a young core? Or, on the flipside, was it the GM and front office of the Titans who were mostly responsible for that team going to pot? Honestly, that seems more likely, but if both Vrabel and the GM were in lockstep, then a lot of these bad personnel decisions of the last couple years falls on both of them.
I’ll be the first to admit, I thought the Titans were savvy to trade Brown away, get a first rounder for him, and try to rebuild their receiver room through the draft. I’ll also be the first to admit, I was dead wrong about Brown (I pegged him to be increasingly injury-prone over the life of his second contract), and the Titans miserably failed with Treylon Burks and others. One would hope, with John Schneider at the helm, we could get Vrabel more talented guys to play around with.
In the end, I’m not going to overthink this. Mike Vrabel is the best option for the Seahawks. I hope we can get a deal done.