Dick LeBeau is out as Titans defensive coordinator

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Eighty-year old Pro Football Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau is out as defensive coordinator for the Titans, sources tell me.

LeBeau joined the Titans in 2015. He allowed protégée Ray Horton, who was already in position, to call the defense that year.

But he took over the following year when Mike Mularkey became the head coach.

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The Titans were 20th in yardage defense in 2016 and improved to 13th in 2017.

The storied LeBeau played at Ohio State and was a Detroit cornerback from 1959-1972.

He coached with the Eagles, Packers, Bengals, Steelers and Bills as well as the Titans. He was head coach in Cincinnati 2000-02.

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Jon Robinson and Mike Vrabel may be a Patriots' pairing, but they will chart a Titans' course

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Patriots found a way, again, to get to the Super Bowl.

Around the NFL everyone else dreams of establishing a New England-caliber program, that consistently plays in and wins Super Bowls, that has an all-time great coach and quarterback under steady ownership, that can regularly find quality players who fill roles and then find their replacements when they get hurt, or old, or expensive.

TitansSeatsBut no one has come close to matching the model, primarily because no one has found a Bill Belichick to pair with a Tom Brady.

Romeo Crennel, Charlie Weis, Eric Mangini, Josh McDaniels and Bill O’Brien have failed to reach a Super Bowl much less win one. Neither has Jim Schwartz, who may or may not qualify as a branch on Belichick’s coaching tree. He scouted for Belichick in Cleveland, but then started coaching in Baltimore and then Tennessee.

O’Brien is a good coach. I believe Schwartz is worthy of another shot.

The failures of the others have not kept the league away from Belichick assistants.

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Mike Vrabel likes OSU's Ryan Day, maybe Detroit's Brian Callahan as OC

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The first nuggets about who Mike Vrabel could hire to run his offense are out, and it’s right along the lines we’re been talking about.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports Ryan Day, Ohio State’s co-offensive coordinator, is considering the job.

I’ve heard Vrabel also likes Detroit quarterback coach Brian Callahan, but that he is unlikely to be let go by the Lions, who are expected to keep much of their offensive staff in place when Matt Patricia takes over.

Day, 38, coached quarterbacks for Chip Kelly in both Philadelphia and San Francisco but his relationship with Marcus Mariota’s former first coach at Oregon goes deeper than that.

Day was a three-year starter at quarterback for New Hampshire when Kelly was offensive coordinator and then head coach for the school.

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He’s coached at New Hampshire Boston College, Florida and Temple.

He would certainly bring some major spread offense elements to the Titans and Mariota.

Callahan, 33, played quarterback at UCLA where he also had his first coaching job, He’s since worked for the Broncos and he joined the Lions in 2016.

These are the type of new, but unproven, coordinator candidates we've talked about that could bring some fresh ideas. I like that route over a retread. But as with the inexperienced new head coach, there will be a lot to prove. Until one of these guys shows he is ready, such hires are exciting but also rife with risk.

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Mike Vrabel's big question: Who's his offensive coordinator?

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mike Vrabel was an NFL linebacker for the Steelers, Patriots and Chiefs during a 14-year career.

In 2007 he was a first-team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler.

He coached for three years at his alma mater, Ohio State. And he’s been on Bill O'Brien's staff with the Houston Texans since 2014.

That’s a meteoric rise and if the Titans landed the next big thing, it’ll be giant.

How connected is he when it comes to assembling a staff?

That’s the big question.

The most important hire is the offensive coordinator who will design and call plays for Marcus Mariota.

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Speed of the hire, not Mike Vrabel, is the surprise from the Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mike Vrabel is the new coach of the Tennessee Titans and I hope he’s great.

I hope he brings the franchise success and energy, I hope he and Jon Robinson are a long-time successful pairing. I want that because it’ll be fun to cover and because I know it’s what readers here most want.

But my initial reaction?

What was the hurry?

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Pickers mailbag: Was the Mike Mularkey hire a mistake?

pickers vodka 847x63NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Welcome to the first offseason mailbag. It's a shame things got so quiet so quickly.

Kidding, of course.

The reaction to Mike Mularkey's firing from you lends to my theory that we are leaning toward being more interested in offseasons than seasons in sports.

TitansSwordTableOnto your questions.

PK: Many of us who questioned the watered-down “search” that produced the hiring of Mike Mularkey thought it was not a great move. I wrote that it was “spectacularly uninspired” and talked of how the push for continuity was wise, but that it was better to make a change then for the long-term then rather than to be left to do it a few years later.

Even so, I do think getting to a place where the franchise posted consecutive winning records and got to the second round of the playoff is significant.

The next coach will have to start from zero in many ways. But if he’s smart, he will find a way to plug into the cultural rebuild that

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Percentages suggest there should be a better pool of defensive candidates

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans are slated to talk to their third head coaching candidate Friday, and Matt LaFleur is the first from the offensive side of the ball.

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I’ve written about the biggest reason it’d be good for the new guy to be an offensive guy.

Still, I am fine with him coming from either side.

Albert Breer of MMQB has discussed the dwindling pipeline of quality candidates based on all the hiring done in recent years.

In 2015, six of seven hires were defensive coaches. In 2016 things went the other way and all seven hires had offensive backgrounds.

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Titans' new coach doesn't have to be from offensive side, but here is the biggest case for why he should be

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Generally, too much can be made of whether a new NFL head coach is an offensive or defensive guy.

The game dictates you are raised on one side. But if you’ve got an expertise on defense, you understand offenses because you are trying to stop them. And if you’ve got an expertise on offense, you understand defenses because you are trying to beat them.MariotaWarmRAMS 1

Two of the coaches still at work are defensive guys – Bill Belichick and Mike Zimmer. Two are offensive guys – Doug Marrone and Doug Pederson.

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