Mike Vrabel should go. There I said it. Sure, Scott Pioli loves they guy and wants him back; Romeo Crennel too, however, he is a player who is descending and he should not be eating up valuable playing time at the expense of developing a quality starting outside line backer.
As you know, Mike Vrabel came to us last season via trade. He was not too happy about it either. He intimated the same during his initial interview(s) and did not exactly get to mini-camp and the offseason programs on time either. That put him in my dog house, even if it didn’t with Pioli.
Once Mike Vrabel got into camp he went to work and appeared to do and say everything right. Let’s be clear. Mike Vrabel was important last season while implementing the 3-4 defense to our 4-3 personnel. But how important is he this year? He is a good player and played just OK last year, but he is getting older and his retention would be hindering our defense from developing a much younger promising player. If he would be willing to play back up, then I would be all for his re-signing, but I am sure he won’t so we should let him go.
When he went down with injury, Andy Studebaker came in and filled in admirably, (ie… the win against the Steelers). I was actually hoping the coaches would not rush Vrabel onto the field in order to see if we actually have something with Studebaker or if Studebaker was just a flash in the pan. Unfortunately, Vrabel only missed two games, and the Chiefs missed out on the opportunity to see what kind of player Studebaker really is. How much of a missed opportunity was that? Look no further than to Jamal Charles taking over for Larry Johnson, or Wade Smith taking over for Mike Goff. Andy Studebaker, (age 25 at the start of the season), in his two starts had 11 combined tackles, three passes defended, and two interceptions, not bad right? I wonder what he would have done if he had started a few more games, don’t you?
Whatever Studebaker may or may not be, one thing is for sure, Vrabel’s best days are behind him. Do you think he will have his best season ever next year? When the preseason starts, he will be 35 years old. He missed two games to injury last year, and statistically speaking, although he was not terrible, he had one of his worst years since the year 2000 when he was with the Steelers (check his stats here). I would watch Vrabel many times last year rush the QB and was not impressed. His lack of speed was obvious; he was being out “muscled” by the lineman, and always, almost always, pushed out wide. Did any of you see that? He had what I would describe as a nonchalant pass rush.
If we were a team competing for the Superbowl, and we were in desperate need of a outside linebacker, then Vrabel might make sense, but we are still building for the long term, still trying to find not just good to average players, but good to great players. I would be willing to gamble and let Vrabel walk with his descending play and 3 to 4 million dollar salary. Give his roster spot to a younger, faster, stronger, ascending player. Even if it means a couple of bone headed plays and missed assignments. Bill Belichick agrees, how about you?