Titans' Mailbag: Mike Vrabel's Stance On Will Levis, Hold On The Locker Room

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- You've got mail. 

The Titans are quiet until Tuesday.

But you've got a lot on your mind and I'm here to give you something engaging to read in the meantime.

Anthony Michael Do you have any thoughts on why Vrabel is always so reluctant on stating the obvious? In this case Levis being the starter even when Tannehill is healthy?

Gamesmanship, in this instance, and to treat Ryan Tannehill well.

Ryan Tannehill
  Ryan Tannehill and the Titans' QBs/ Angie Flatt

It’s not important what Mike Vrabel says about the status of quarterback 10 days before their next game. It’s

important what he does at quarterback against the Bucs. So beat him up all you want over what he says, but I’m going to wait until we see (or hear) something definitive.

Until then, it could well be about wanting the keep Tampa Bay in the dark (something I think is way overrated, but we see a lot of teams try) and about giving the best possible treatment to Tannehill, a veteran quarterback who’s served Vrabel very well and earned a great deal of loyalty and appreciation.

Haris Hadzimuratovic What's the reasoning behind trading Byard and no other pending free agent? Seems like a strange halfway measure between contending and rebuilding. Even assuming they want to tag one person at the end of the year, seems like we had players to move.

They can play the same level of poor pass defense pretty easily with or without Kevin Byard. By sacrificing 11 games with him, they recouped fifth- and sixth-round picks they foolishly gave away for Dennis Daley and Ugo Amadi. And now their draft is reasonably whole, minus the third-rounder they sacrificed in the Will Levis deal.

It was clear they weren’t going to have Byard back for 2024 at his very large price considering his production had dropped off, and as great a leader and presence as he is, he had not so much as touched a football for the defense in six games in 2023.

Dustin Engelhardt Titans went Best Available during last year’s draft and it didn’t feel like the drafted according to need. Do you think that happens again or do they focus more on filling in obvious deficiencies like OL, DB, and WR?

I completely disagree with your premise.

You don’t think they needed a guard (Peter Skoronski), a QB of the future (Levis), a third-down back who would eventually take over for Derrick Henry (Tyjae Spears), a tight end (Josh Whyle), an offensive tackle (Jaelyn Duncan) and a developmental wide receiver (Colton Dowell)?

Every pick was a need pick, but once you get beyond Spears you’re not getting immediate help.

They ignored receiver as a predominant need, which was highly objectionable, but they did offset that with the later addition of DeAndre Hopkins.

If they don’t take a left tackle with their first pick this year, it’ll be because they’ve addressed it in free agency (I don’t see a great route there) or see a great option in the second. I’d certainly expect a corner and a receiver high, but they tend to be delusional about receivers.

Matthew Frazier It feels like Vrabel is losing the team's and fan bases' support. Do you think he could be on his way out?

I don’t think we have a true feeling about what the team thinks about Vrabel, and I don’t think the locker room should have anything, really, to do with a coach’s fate unless a coach is clearly in over his head. I don’t want the NFL to become the NBA.

This team was 47 percent new this season. Next year will be a huge percentage of first- and second-year guys. How can he have lost guys he’s just getting?

The fan base certainly should not be determinative. Fan bases all over the country call for firings of coaches better than Vrabel after losses.

I think he deserves a chance to coach this team after the roster is fixed, and the roster still needs some serious fixing, starting with the offensive line.

Richard Seidman Will Tannehill’s huge salary figure into if he plays or not when healthy?

No. The money is already accounted for. I can't see why anyone would think salary would play into it.

Christopher Garete Is the run first philosophy a vrabel issue? It’s insane how good AJ Brown is and the Titans rarely ran their offense through him. Worst move this franchise has made in the last few years….

No one is on the Titans’ side of the A.J. Brown side of the trade except the Eagles.

The Titans just threw the ball 39 times with a rookie QB against a team with some dominant pass rushers, running it just 39 percent of the time. I wouldn’t say they had a run-first philosophy overall.

I found it highly objectionable that they ran three consecutive times in the second-to-last possession, their best chance to go win it with a TD when they started with the ball near midfield. They were too safe and too conservative there.

The Titans are running less – 47 percent of the time this year compared to 51.4 percent in 2022 and 50.7 percent in 2021.

To your question: The overall amount the Titans run or pass over a broad period is certainly approved by the head coach.

Well, I understand the limitations of the roster he’s fielding. Thirty-one players who were not drafted are on it, 13 of them have started and seven of them have started six games or more. All of those are the highest numbers in the NFL.

What do you think Mike McDaniel is doing with a roster like that?

You can look strictly at the record, or you can look at the reasons behind the record.

Will Levis is very promising.

Do you think it’s best for him to have continuity going into his first year as a starter from the first day of camp, or to be learning a new offense under a new staff that wants different types of players to fit a different scheme and philosophy?

Generally speaking, if you’ve got a coach who’s shown he can win, it’s better to let him ride through the rough times and reset the team than it is to change – especially when the alternative is such a coin flip. This has been shown around the league over time.

Young QBs need consistency in message, people, philosophy, etc.

Vrabel is not a Patriot Way guy.

He played for Bill Belichick, but he did not arrive in Nashville as a Belichick disciple. He certainly recognizes the good and the bad of the coach he won three Super Bowls playing for. He employs some of his old coach's stuff. But he's not trying to be him the way some many guys have tried to be.

Kuharsky megaphoneUnlike several Belichick assistants who were hired from New England, he did not get a head coaching job acting like a mini-Belichick or selling himself as the next Belichick.

Vrabel coached under Urban Myer and Bill O’Brien but is very much his own man, an amalgamation of a lot of people including his dad, his high school coach, Gerry Rardin, and his first NFL head coach, Bill Cowher.

And Josh McDaniels failing is no surprise, he’s followed the path of many other Belichick disciples. New England’s roster is bad and Belichick has done poorly rebuilding the franchise post Tom Brady. It doesn’t mean their methods don’t work with the right people. It doesn't take away from what he did.

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