Shane Bowen to be Mike Vrabel's top defensive lieutenant

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As head coach, Mike Vrabel is going to have to step away from being the head of the Titans' defense.

When he leaves defensive meetings to be with the offense or special teams or for other CEO duties, outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen (pictured below, right) will take the defensive lead, Vrabel said Thursday in a Zoom meeting with reporters.

It’s the furthest Vrabel has gone at acknowledging he is the de facto defensive coordinator after Dean Pees retired and Vrabel didn’t hire or designate anyone to replace him.VrabelOfficeZoom

I’ve presumed from early on that Vrabel will be the defensive play-caller, which is not as big a job as offensive play-caller, a job done by several head coaches including Andy Reid and Kyle Shanahan, who squared off in the Super Bowl.

Vrabel still says he does not know. [Unlocked]

In terms of who would work as Vrabel’s top lieutenant, it was unclear if Bowen, 33, would be the guy or if Vrabel would look to the position coach he worked under when he came into the league as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Titans’ new inside linebackers coach Jim Haslett, 64.

Who will call defensive plays has been a popular and absolutely fruitless question throughout offseason Zoom conversations with Vrabel, his staff and defensive players. I think Vrabel kind of enjoys toying with the people asking and that there is a bit he truly wants to physically work out with regard to the system.

Some of the fan reaction has been beyond ridiculous. Here's one that was attached to my tweet above.

Yeah, Aaron, I think we need to work on our definition of a fiasco.

For Vrabel, it's entirely about the system. Three guys were out in Pees, Tyrone McKenzie and Kerry Coombs. Two are in with Haslett, who helped foster the way Vrabel played, and Anthony Midget, who was on the same staff as Vrabel in Houston.

No one came in from "outside" the system.Bowen

And while we need to see how it works with Vrabel running it, I don't see how anyone call it a fiasco before Vrabel -- or whomever --  calls his first play for the Titans without Pees. Also, we are without a clue as to how many Vrabel has actually called in the last two years, on either side of the ball.

The head coach can talk into the headset and get whatever he wants whenever he wants it, we realize, right?

In response to the idea of having two play-callers for different situations, an idea the Falcons executed last year, he seemed to scoff.

"We're going to have one call," Vrabel said. "And I'm not really sure who's going to make that call right now. Just like there were times I wanted things called and let Dean know and there were times that Dean made the call.

"There is going to be one call that goes into the huddle and it's going to be the one that we think is going to be the one that gives the players the best chance to be successful."

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