Tuesday, January 16, 2018

NFL Coaching Carousel: Mike Vrabel Emerges as a Strong Fit for Titans’ Head-Coach Position

Since the Titans announced that they were parting ways with head coach Mike Mularkey on Monday morning, Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel has quickly emerged as a strong fit to step in the opening — and more updates as the NFL's coaching carousel spins.

By Albert Breer
January 15, 2018

Every decision the Titans have made for three years now has been with quarterback Marcus Mariota’s development at the forefront.

When they fired Ken Whisenhunt halfway through 2015, the beheading the Titans’ quarterbacks were taking early that season pushed the issue. When they hired Jon Robinson as GM in January 2016, his time spent around Tom Brady as a scout for the Patriots and in drafting Jameis Winston as the Buccaneers’ director of player personnel were factors. And when Mike Mularkey was given the head-coaching job full-time, it was largely because he’d fixed the aforementioned protection problem.

So the Titans are about to hire an offensive guru as head coach, right?

Not so fast.

On Monday, two head-coaching spots were, for all intents and purposes, filled, and another one opened up. And one widely-held assumption early in the day was that Josh McDaniels’s availability had pushed the Titans to pull the plug on Mularkey, an idea that was punctuated by McDaniels’s offense tearing through an overwhelmed Tennessee team in Foxboro on Saturday night.

My belief is that was never the case, and McDaniels—who’s as bright a head-coaching prospect as there is on the market—probably wouldn’t have been the Titans’ lead dog had he still been available (the Colts are expected to hire the Patriots’ offensive coordinator, according to multiple reports). The reason why is simple: it’s about fit.

Over the last two weeks, as news of Mularkey’s employment status was widely reported and and written about by the media, the trust between Mularkey and Robinson fractured—and that was a piece of why talks on bringing Mularkey back broke down over the last couple of days. It may have been difficult to get Mularkey to take a Band-Aid deal and make staff changes previously. These circumstances made that impossible.

Now the Titans will look to find alignment, and the first man they requested to interview, Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel, is seen as a better match for the team’s brass than McDaniels from a personality standpoint. Also, he and Robinson have common background in that each spent many years in New England. Vrabel will have to sell Tennessee on his staffing choices and his vision for developing Mariota, but word of how well Vrabel interviewed in Detroit and Indianapolis has gotten around. Robinson laid out criteria for the job during his press conference on Monday, and the first thing he said he was looking for was a “leader of men.”

That’s Vrabel, whose strengths are in his presence and ability to reach people. It doesn’t mean he has job, but there’s little question that he’s well-positioned for it.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Iowa Hawkeyes in the NFL: Riley Reiff Will Play For A Trip To The Super Bowl!

By J.P. Scott
January 15, 2018

Three former Hawkeyes entered the NFL Divisional Round with dreams of making it all the way to the Super Bowl. Only one of those dreams is still alive this season.

Riley Reiff helped the Minnesota Vikings defeat the New Orleans Saints in one of the greatest postseason finishes in NFL history. His efforts helped the Vikings put up 403 yards of total offense while converting 10 of 17 3rd down attempts.

Reiff and the Vikings will now travel to Philadelphia to face the Eagles — the NFC’s top seed — next Sunday. That game will kick off at 5:40 pm CST on Fox.

Dallas Clark still holds all-time postseason receiving records for tight ends

By Michael David Smith
January 14, 2018

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski caught six passes for 81 yards and a touchdown on Saturday night, and he’s now within striking distance of the NFL’s all-time postseason receiving records for a tight end.

Gronk now has 835 postseason receiving yards in his career, moving him ahead of Shannon Sharpe into second place, behind only Dallas Clark. In the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, Gronkowski needs just 13 yards to pass Clark for the most postseason receiving yards for any tight end in NFL history.

With 58 career postseason catches, Gronkowski is just six behind Clark’s all-time record. And with 10 postseason receiving touchdowns, Gronkowski already has the most for a tight end in NFL history and tied for third-most among all players, behind only Jerry Rice’s 22 and John Stallworth’s 12.

Asked about those records after the game, Gronkowski changed the subject.

“What’s most important is getting that win and that’s what we did,” Gronkowski said, adding that having a record is “great to hear and everything but that’s not really the main goal. Maybe down the road you can look back and look at that stuff but as of right now what our main goal is just keep on grinding, get the win and that’s what we did tonight.”

Thats what the Patriots have done throughout Gronkowski’s career, and those performances are why Gronkowski, at age 28, is already among the great tight ends in NFL history.

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