It is no secret that Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel has made some questionable coaching decisions this season.
Whether it be a poor choice to fake a punt or field goal, or mismanaging timeouts in crucial time in the game, the second-year head coach has shown he still has some learning to do in order to become a great NFL coach.
However, Vrabel silenced all the haters after the Titans’ historic win against the Patriots in Foxborough.
To me, it seemed like Vrabel already had the upper hand before the game even started. Titans players were quiet in the media during the week leading up to wildcard weekend. On the other hand, some Patriots players were unusually vocal going into a game many people thought they would easily win.
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy said the team was on a “revenge tour” in the playoffs. Tom Brady was also vocal on social media, tweeting a hype video with the caption “It’s too late to be scared.” Both of these seemed odd for a team who is relatively quiet in the national media. Van Noy would later be ripped for this comment by former teammate, and current Titan, Logan Ryan. Titans players seemed to use this to fuel them for their biggest game of the season.
Logan Ryan wasn’t too thrilled of Kyle Van Noy’s description of this game as the start of a “revenge tour.”
Ryan: “His revenge tour ended early.” pic.twitter.com/UZRTRDXkAC
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) January 5, 2020
During the game, the Titans coaching staff coached a great game. They knew what their game plan was and continued to stick with it — even when they were trailing early. For Titans fans, the cherry on top was Vrabel’s decision to milk the clock before punting to New England late in the fourth quarter.
Mike Vrabel went a long way toward winning this game with his clock management. He also showed zero respect for #Patriots offense. And coached to win on the last drive. Only Derrick Henry had a better night than he did. #Titans
— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) January 5, 2020
While leading 14-13, the Titans took two intentional penalties, accompanied by a New England neutral zone infraction, to milk two minutes off the clock. To me, this play stood out more than any other. It showed Vrabel’s deep knowledge of the NFL rulebook.
Bill Belichick used the exact same strategy on a punt against the New York Jets back in October. He described it as a “loophole” in the rulebook. Belichick, who famously smirked on the sidelines when he called the play, was visibly outraged when his former player dialed up the same strategy against him.
The Tennessee Titans are still looking to go from good to great. If Vrabel can consistently coach at the level he did on Saturday going forward, the team will take a huge step on the road to becoming a great team.
PHOTO CREDIT: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports