Reaction to all Mike Vrabel said about Titans firing Jon Robinson

Jon Robinsonand Mike VrabelNASHVILLE, Tenn. – Amy Adams Strunk unfairly hung Mike Vrabel out to dry Wednesday, as he answered for her Tuesday decision to fire Jon Robinson for over 20 minutes.

Here are the highlights of what he said and my thoughts on the meaning behind a lot of it.

“Move forward aligned:” Vrabel thanked Robinson and his family for the care and effort and support they’d shown the team and fans.

“I want to thank him for giving me the opportunity to coach this football team on the field, to lead it each and every day,” he said. “With that, change is never easy. But we realize that we all have a job to do. That job is evaluated each and every day. I told the team this. I met with the staff.

Pool photo/ Mark Humphrey AP

“We have a personal relationship with Jon, everybody here in some capacity. Our personal feelings aren’t what’s important, what’s important is that we respect and that we move forward aligned and so everything we can to prepare our players and be great for them as we go out against the Jaguars at home.”

The relationship: Vrabel said he and Robinson have a great relationship. That would, of course, have more meaning coming from Robinson. We don't know how he feels about the people who have outlasted him.

“I spoke with him at length (Tuesday) night and thanked him,” Vrabel said. “I asked him if there was anything he would like me to share with the players, which I did. Because of the timing of it, I know he wanted to thank the players for their efforts each and every day, he signed them and drafted them and thanked them for what they went through. He sees the injury report the same as I do, he knows that they go through a lot and he wanted to thank them and I did that.

Amy Adams Strunk's absence: Vrabel said he was informed of the decision by Strunk.

“I can’t speak to the timing of it, I can’t speak to the decision of it,” he said. “I’m sorry I can’t help you.”

Those are, of course, things that Strunk could speak to and that many of the fans she’s asking to pay double for suite renewals at Nissan Stadium want to know. She’s been predominantly unwilling to speak to the media during her tenure though she’s had her moments and done just fine.

This absolutely needed to be another one of them. What’s her plan going forward?

Whether she made the decision on her own or the team’s PR leaders Gil Beverly and Robbie Bohren helped advise her to stay in the shadows or offered little pushback to their boss, I put it on the list of rare blunders she’s made in her term as her father’s successor.

In my estimation, Strunk has made four really bad moves since she took control of the team.

In no particular order:

Elevating Mike Mularkey from interim to head coach in 2016.

Not attending owners' meetings in her backyard in Houston in January of 2016.

Pushing out VP of communications Jimmy Stanton in Sept. of 2016.

And not speaking yesterday to explain her decision to fire Robinson and discuss a vision for the future.

Instead, she left her coach in the awkward position of answering questions that were largely over his head. Vrabel wouldn’t say if she were in the building, in Nashville or in Texas. But he did say he would be "excited to see her Friday if she comes to practice and when she’s in town."

He gave boilerplate praise to the team ownership group as is mandatory in such a press conference.

“I’m confident that we have their full support, to do our job and to move forward,” he said.

Roster construction: Strunk said in her statement that that was “more to be done and higher aspirations to be met” with regard to team construction and roster building.

I asked Vrabel if Robinson had drafted or signed players he did not want and he said, no.

“Again, Jon and I have and had a great relationship, he said. “I appreciate how he included the coaching staff in the evaluation process. Ultimately, I reported to Jon, Jon was the general manager, we communicated each and every day. Our focus is on the roster as it stands today. The guys that we have today, the players that we have, the players that we are moving forward with to get ready for Jacksonville.

So did he feel like the roster construction was as much his as Robinson’s?

“I think that we’re all, everybody here in this building, responsible to help the players,” he said. “Make sure that I am doing my job to prepare them and make sure that the message is clear, the keys to victory each and every week and how we need to play to win the football game.”

Later he said, “Whatever happened, whatever was in place, the only thing that matters now is what we do going forward.”

That’s evasive.

I don’t think there were many Robinson-only guys. I suspect Vic Beasley was one. But still, Vrabel co-signing a pick or a signing doesn’t get Robinson off the hook for his final say just like a bad timeout or gameplan by Vrabel and his staff was not on Robinson for hiring the coach who then hired assistants.

Control: There is nothing major coming at this stage of the season where there would be any sort of wrestling over a roster move between Vrabel and Ryan Cowden, who now heads personnel. There is not going to be a deadlock over a practice-squad offensive lineman so final say right now is no sort of issue.

Vrabel said he’s willing to do whatever he is asked in a search for a new GM after the season, but a search can actually begin now.

When questions of control came up – control of personnel and the 90 and 53-man rosters and final say – Vrabel consistently sidestepped and turned to his focus being on the Jaguars.

He’s certainly expected to have more input with a new GM, one he is likely to have a hand in hiring.

"I will support them and help in the process however I can, we haven’t had those conversations,” he said. ”I will absolutely fill whatever role or help in whatever way when the time comes."

Injuries: Aside from bad drafting and signings another major reason for roster deficiencies is a slew of injuries that have prompted the Titans to use 93 players last year and 76 so far this season.

apple icon 144x144 precomposedVrabel said he and the team would evaluate that issue after the season, but that’s the same thing he said a year ago.

There is bad luck involved for sure, but the Titans have been near the top of the list for injuries two years running and they do not seem outwardly to be particularly concerned with finding core issues that are keeping them from fielding a team composed of their best players as often as possible.

That results are the same year to year tell us any changes they've made aren't working.

No matter who is drafting and signing players, if the best ones are hurt and missing time the Titans will have trouble measuring up to the competition.

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