Mike Vrabel’s Firing Could Affect Vikings

Tennessee Titans Head Coach Mike Vrabel reacts to a Titans penalty against the Seattle Seahawks during their game at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023. © Denny Simmons / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK.

While the NFL world waited on pins and needles to learn if Bill Belichick would return to the New England Patriots in 2024, the Tennessee Titans, out of nowhere, fired head coach Mike Vrabel on Monday, a Belichick disciple.

And with a couple of degrees of separation, the termination may affect the Minnesota Vikings and defensive coordinator Brian Flores.

Mike Vrabel’s Firing Could Affect Vikings

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted Tuesday morning, “Sources: Titans coach Mike Vrabel will not return in 2024, sources say, as both sides will move on after six seasons that included one Coach of the Year nod for Vrabel. He’s expected to be one of the top candidates available.”

Firing Could Affect
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Vrabel’s departure is stunning, as the former linebacker is considered by many to be one of the NFL’s top coaches. Of course, the Titans have fallen on harsh times amid the last two seasons, but most believed Vrabel would receive a seventh act in Tennessee. But Titans ownership disagreed.

Tennessee was 54-45 (.545) on Vrabel’s watch, the 12th-best record in the sport since 2018. The Titans also reached the AFC Championship in 2019, but that was apparently too long ago for Tennessee’s brass’ liking.

Why the Vikings Would
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Just 48 years old, Vrabel should fetch the utmost attention inside the NFL’s annual coaching carousel, becoming a true wrench and wildcard for all HC-needy teams. And that’s where the Vikings connection surfaces.

Minnesota hired defensive coordinator Brian Flores last February, a man with three years head coaching experience. Many thought he could be a classic on-and-done in the Twin Cities, and generally speaking, his resume in Year No. 1 for the Vikings was rather commendable. He transformed the NFL’s third-worst defense per points allowed to 13th-best — in one year.

Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports.

Because the turnaround was so rapid and impressive, he might garner HC attention during this hiring cycle. No job would fit Flores more aptly than the Patriots’ gig if Belichick is fired or resigns.

However, with Vrabel on the open market and possessing a more pristine reputation than Flores, New England could hire Vrabel instead of Flores, increasing the chances of a DC sequel for Flores in Minnesota. To be clear, Flores wasn’t a shoo-in or anything of the sort for the Patriots job, but conventional logic suggests he’d be a contender, spending 15 years in Foxboro before taking the HC job in Miami five years ago.

Vikings to Showcase
Minnesota Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Flores was hired in February 2023 to take over for Ed Donatel after Minnesota finished 30th in points allowed.

The rumor mill has hinted that Flores won’t bolt for just any job this offseason — he got a raw deal in Miami two years ago — but the Patriots organization would probably activate his interest. Vrabel’s sudden availability hurt his chances of earning that hypothetical job.

The Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, and Washington Commander also canned their skippers this cycle.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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