Mike Vrabel firing will go down as worst move of the NFL offseason

You don't fire Mike Vrabel. You just don't and everyone knows it.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans
Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

Ran Carthon should take a moment.

We're not sure whether it's possible to put such disgusting toothpaste back in the tube, but even if it makes Carthon look like a complete buffoon and makes the Tennessee Titans organization the temporary butt of NFL jokes, it's at least worth trying. Take back the statements. Unmake the decision. Stop every offseason process currently underway in Nissan Stadium.

Because what a team should never, ever do right now is fire Mike Vrabel.

It's not that we've not imagined life for Vrabel away from Tennessee in the last year. The New England Patriots are flirting with life after Bill Belichick and Vrabel's name has been floated there as a sort of homecoming. We also wondered whether Vrabel would even want to stick around for the annual mediocrity parade known as the Titans regular season schedule. But firing Vrabel? FIRING Vrabel? That's just not something anyone should have ever considered.

Let's get one thing clear: We're not sentimental about Mike Vrabel here because of a couple of largely unforgettable seasons spent in Kansas City late in his career as a veteran add-on to the Matt Cassel trade by Scott Pioli. Vrabel was fine and then he was gone and that was that. Instead, it's about Vrabel being not just competent but competitive and consistent and all manner of other positive "c" words.

It reminds us of Andy Reid.

Everything about an NFL organization's success begins with the head coach (and then quarterback). DeMeco Ryans catapulted the Houston Texans to a division title. Shane Steichen made it difficult for Houston with a backup quarterback. Those are newer faces who looked the part from the outset like long-term leaders and they proved their mettle in year one.

When you have a Mike Tomlin, a John Harbaugh, a Kyle Shanahan, or an Andy Reid, you're already over the biggest hump of a given season. Parity is the name of the game in the NFL. Sustained success is difficult to achieve. But the fact that some franchises have established head coaches in place with a proven track record of staying competitive gets you there fastest and keeps you there most years.

When the Chiefs convinced Andy Reid to ignore his scheduled trip to Arizona to interview with the Cardinals, it was a franchise-defining moment. Team owner Clark Hunt has done a number of things well, but his most valuable act on behalf of his franchise was convincing Reid to sign on the dotted line. Just like that, the Chiefs were a credible organization for agents and players, staff members and coaches.

In 2012, the Chiefs won 2 games. In 2013, they went to the postseason and began an era in which his teams have averaged 11.6 wins per season for 11 years. The year before Reid arrived featured a murder-suicide at Arrowhead and fans literally boycotting a storied venue like Arrowhead. Planes even flew banners overhead reading "Save Our Chiefs."

The Eagles had their reasons for dumping Reid, and it's not that Reid was a perfect coach, but when your biggest complaint is that he can't win the biggest game, it's a dumb idea to let him go. That's because at least you have a head coach who has the big game in his sights. Most franchises would kill for that.

Back to Vrabel, a guy whose teams always play their opponents tough and often come away the victors. Coming into this season, Vrabel averaged just under 10 wins per year as the team's head coach despite never having anything close to an all-world quarterback. In a modern era, Vrabel's team has relied on a more old-school approach using the personnel he's been given. And that's often not been too good.

Vrabel is a great teacher and a professional coach in every sense of the word. He's also the sort of steady winner who would legitimize any team with his presence. While he doesn't have the body of work that Andy Reid did, he also had less to work with in Nashville than Reid ever had in Philly.

Ran Carthon made a big mistake by announcing the firing of Vrabel on Tuesday. The Titans had a number of problems but Vrabel was not one of them. Instead, they're going to have to add yet another offseason objective to an already long list just to replace the competence they already had in-house with Vrabel as head coach. It's unlikely that any move this offseason will turn out worse than this one.

manual