NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The 2017 Tennessee Titans won over some fans, but plenty of others weren’t buying.

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We talked about it a great deal in this space, the disconnect between the Titans and Music City.

There were a lot of factors. But Mike Mularkey, Terry Robiskie and an uninventive offense ranked as biggies.

I do believe there were fans who were put off by the hiring process in 2016, when CEO Steve Underwood wondered why anyone would have had an issue with the search that produced a promotion for Mularkey from interim coach to coach. (Note accompanying tweet from Jan. 18, 2016.)

That scorn rose when they saw a stubborn Mularkey fail to advance, or sometimes even maintain, the Titans’ offense in his second year.

The exact thing many fans feared with the hire came to fruition in Year 2, even as the team managed a second consecutive 9-7 record, this one with a playoff berth and a playoff victory.

So, with Mularkey gone and replaced with Mike Vrabel, I’d like to know, is the new coach a box office draw?

There is a lot still to learn, starting with who is on his staff.

There is free agency and there is the draft.

Renewal notices are due to land around the start of February for season ticket holders. Were you thinking you might not renew? Have things changed for you?

If you're not a season-ticket person and you had to decide right now on investing in some tickets for next year, are you more likely to do so now than you were 365 days ago?

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mike Vrabel’s recognition of the tone-setting importance of his relationship with Jon Robinson was significant on Monday.

VrabelRobinson“(Our) relationship is going to set the standard and the tone for the entire organization,” he said. “That relationship will be built on, obviously, alignment and loyalty and trust and mutual respect.

“We're going to disagree on players, we're going to disagree on things, and at the end of the day, somebody has to make a decision and move on.

“But I said that that will be the most critical relationship in the building. When we walk out of his office or we walk out of my office, we're going to walk down the hallway, people are going to look and they’re going to notice what's going on with Mike and Jon. Are they together? We're going to lead my staff, his staff and the entire building with that in mind.”

Here’s something I believe Amy Adams Strunk should keep in mind: A coach and a GM on different contractual schedules leads to problems.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Spread offenses are all over the college landscape, and colleges are the feeder programs for the NFL.

Mike Vrabel said as he was introduced by the Titans Monday that there is no avoiding the spread and that he and his staff will embrace it as much as they are able.

“The NFL has the greatest farm system in the world,” Vrabel said. “We pay our farm system coaches $10 million dollars to develop players. Nick Saban is our farm system, Urban Meyer is our farm system. Those are the types of players that they’re developing, those are the types of players that are playing in high school, that’s where the game is at.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Ken Whisenhunt couldn’t identify an identity.

VrabelIntroMike Mularkey couldn’t stray from his.

Among the many good answers we heard from Mike Vrabel at his introductory press conference were short snippets that told us where his offense and defense will start.

Defense: “I have a philosophy defensively that we’re going to have coverage consistency and we’re going to have front multiplicity. We have great players. We’re going to introduce our coverage concepts to them, that’s going to remain consistent throughout what we do. And then we’re going to have guys up front that may be geared toward to an under-defense, an over-defense, three-down, five-down – multiplicity in our front. So it’s coverage consistently, front multiplicity.”

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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.


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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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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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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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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