Green Bay’s Matt LaFleur has been brilliant in three seasons with the Packers and has the No. 1 team in the NFC. Cincinnati’s Zac Taylor has led the Bengals to their first AFC North division title and playoff berth since 2015. Bill Belichick will take the New England Patriots to the postseason (and may win the division) with a rookie quarterback.
But none of those coaches have done the job Vrabel has for the Titans this fall. None of those coaches lost their MVP and best player midway through the season. None of those coaches set the record for most active players used in a single NFL season. None of those coaches took the NFL’s worst pass-rush and turned it into one of the NFL’s best defenses.
And, right now, none of those coaches are in control of the No. 1 in the AFC. The Titans are one win over Houston in the season finale on Sunday from clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Tennessee is a 10.5-point favorite over the Texans.
Vrabel, along with sixth-year General Manager Jon Robinson, has built an incredibly powerful and cohesive culture in Nashville. An identity so glued together that not only were the Titans capable of overcoming tremendous adversity but also allowed them to thrive their way into a second-straight AFC South division title and potential first-round bye.
Derrick Henry broke his foot in Week 8 against the Indianapolis Colts. He was well on his way to his third-straight NFL rushing title and potential MVP award, leading the league in offensive touches, yards from scrimmage and touchdowns by wide margins. Star wide receivers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones have missed a combined 10 games due to various injuries. Those are the best three players on the offense, and they missed 18 combined games this season.
Those and numerous other injuries led to the Titans setting the NFL record for most active players used in a single season with 88.
Yet, through all of that, the Titans have clinched a second-straight division crown for the first time since 1962 (when they were called the Oilers) and are the top-seed in the AFC with solid Super Bowl odds. Vrabel’s offense is third in the NFL in rushing and 15th in scoring, while the defense is second in the league against the run, sixth in scoring defense, top 10 in pressuring the QB, top 10 in third]-down defense and top 10 in red-zone defense.
To top it all off, Tennessee went 7-1 this year against teams that made the playoffs a year ago. They beat good teams all season long.
This is Mike Vrabel’s best coaching job yet, which is saying a lot considering what he’s accomplished in his short tenure in Nashville. In four years as the Titans head coach, Vrabel claimed four winning seasons, three playoff appearances, two division titles, a 2000-yard rusher, a trip to the AFC Championship game and watched his team end Tom Brady’s career in New England.
The evidence is overwhelming that Vrabel is the NFL’s Coach of the Year.
If the Titans clinch the No. 1 on Sunday and do so while being the most injured team in NFL history without their best player, Vrabel will have done unquestionably the NFL’s best coaching job.
If he doesn’t win the award, what’s the point of even having it in the first place?