How attractive are the Titans offensive and defensive coordinator positions?

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.

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Author: John GlennonMulti-media journalist with extensive expertise covering the NFL, NHL, professional soccer and more, including the Tennessee Titans and Nashville Predators for The Tennessean with articles, videos and podcasts. Strengths include the ability to write quick, concise and thorough analysis, as well as the ability to uncover unique human-interest stories. In working as a reporter, John developed skills that extend beyond the sports journalism world. An efficient and effective communicator, John is confident, calm and productive under deadline pressure and knows the power of the written word. John brings to Broadway Sports a work ethic second to none, an intellectual hunger, and an ability to inform and entertain readers, viewers and listeners. Reach out directly to John at:


  1. I want Rex Ryan. He sucked as a head coach but as a defensive coordinator he was great. He will manufacture pressure and sacks with his blitzes and he already lives in Nashville.. I think the fit is there but vrabel would have to swallow his pride and give rex full control of the D.

    1. I agree with you. Assuming Adoree, Malcolm & Kristian are all healthy next year, we have the CB talent to play all of the man coverage that Rexy’s Bear Front would require. We would instantly become better against the run based upon scheme alone, and we would likely produce more pressure on scheme alone. The big question becomes, “Who can we get to fill the third DT role. Cuz you gotta have three big nasties in the middle to make that scheme go. Jurrell Casey would have been a perfect fit. Perhaps a guy like Leonard Williams could squish in and play that role. Personally, I think the scheme would play well to Landry’s strengths and could easily accommodate a young draftee on the other side. It could possibly protect Rashaan Evans from being a liability in the passing game and help him get back to being an aggressively roaming, downhill run-stuffer – with plenty of beef in front of him to protect him. Or maybe Evans could transition to that edge defender role and Long can feast in the middle with Brown, Fulton & Hooker working through the OLB/SS roles as packages might dictate. Finally, I think KB31 would enjoy a resurgence in his ball-hawking ways with so much being better taken care of in front of him based on the scheme.

      As it was this year, we ran a scheme that basically wanted 4 guys to defend the run and create pressure while the other 7 sat on their heals and played “safety”. Exaggeration, yes. But I bet that’s how the players felt a lot of times. And those four magical heroes never really proved capable of doing what they were asked.

      Lots of pride-swallowing and yielding, yes! But it could be easier done if the guy is as experienced and successful as Rex.

      Personally, I think Vrabel is at his best when he is purely focused on leading the culture, managing the game-flow, and making sure that all three phases cohere in a “complimentary” fashion. Hopefully the disappointments of a what-might-have-been season have left him motivated to get a guy in there whom he can just leave alone and to get back to doing the things he loves best.

      Titan up!

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