By John Glennon
It’s been eight years since Titans coach Mike Vrabel left the college game, but as the 2021 season unfolds, he has some recruiting to do.
The loss of Arthur Smith, who was last week named the Atlanta Falcons’ new head coach, means the Titans are definitely in search of a new offensive coordinator.
It would appear, based on the report the Titans met with Steelers assistant coach Teryl Austin last week, that the team is also seeking a defensive coordinator. Shane Bowen held the responsibilities of defensive coordinator in 2020, but was never given the title.
So just how attractive are the positions the Titans are looking to fill? Are they the kinds of jobs that will help lure the cream of the crop to Tennessee, or will Vrabel have to make a great sell?
Here’s a look at both the attractions and concerns candidates are likely to consider when it comes to the Titans’ two coordinator positions:
Titans offensive coordinator
Successful track record — Vrabel’s short track record with offensive coordinators suggests he’s willing to give chances to new faces, and that he lets his hires do their thing.
In 2018, Vrabel was secure enough to hire Matt LaFleur, the man he’d just beaten out for the head-coaching job. LaFleur, 38 years old at the time, had spent the previous season as the Rams’ offensive coordinator. But he hadn’t served as the play-caller in Los Angeles, meaning LaFleur would be taking on increased responsibility with the Titans. LaFleur didn’t produce fireworks that season, as the Titans’ offense finished 25th in yardage, 27th in points. The experience, however, was enough to help launch LaFleur into the head-coaching ranks in Green Bay.
In 2019, Vrabel again chose a first-time play-caller, as Arthur Smith – previously the team’s tight ends coach – had never before served as a coordinator. Vrabel’s intuition proved accurate. Smith improved the Titans’ points-per-game average from 19.4 in 2018 to 25.1 in 2019, and from 25.1 in 2019 to 30.7 in 2020 before accepting the Falcons’ head-coaching job.
It would seem, then, that Vrabel – along with general manager Jon Robinson’s personnel additions – has helped provide an atmosphere conducive to success.