Friday, February 11, 2022

Titans coach Mike Vrabel named 2021 AP NFL Coach of the Year


Published: Feb 10, 2022 at 10:18 PM

Chase Goodbread

Original Content Writer

The Tennessee Titans overcame the loss of their most impactful player among a rash of injuries to earn the No. 1 seed in the AFC last year, and now their coach has been honored accordingly.


Mike Vrabel was named the AP NFL Coach of the Year on Thursday during the 11th annual NFL Honors event.


He is the first coach in Titans history to earn the award.


Vrabel drew 36 of the nationwide panel's 50 votes, with Green Bay's Matt Fleur receiving eight votes. Las Vegas interim coach Rich Bisaccia (three), Cincinnati's Zac Taylor (two) and New England's Bill Belichick (one) also got votes.


Not surprisingly, the Titans rewarded Vrabel with a contract extension earlier this week.


The Titans reached the Divisional Round of the playoffs, losing a home game to the Cincinnati Bengals, 19-16, to finish the season at 12-6.


Nonetheless, it was an especially impressive campaign for Vrabel, given that the club lost star running back Derrick Henry for the second half of the season due to a foot injury. Backup running back D'Onta Foreman filled in effectively, and the Titans defense tightened as well.


Minus Henry, the club went 6-3 from Week 9 through the end of the regular season despite averaging roughly 10 fewer points per game without the two-time Pro Bowler. The strong finish allowed Tennessee to claim the top seed in the AFC and earn a bye in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs.


But the injury issues went far deeper than Henry.


Skill-position players missed a total of 112 games, including missed action for starting wide receivers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones. By the end of the regular season, the Titans had broken an NFL record with 91 players seeing action. COVID-19-related unavailability contributed to that total as well -- something every club in the league dealt with -- but it's worth noting that the clubs which set the previous mark of 84, the 2019 Miami Dolphins and 2020 San Francisco 49ers, finished 5-11 and 6-10, respectively.


Also noteworthy from Vrabel's fourth season in Tennessee was a pair of overtime wins. The Titans opened the season 6-2, with victories over the Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts requiring an extra period.


Vrabel, the former New England Patriots linebacker, has yet to post a losing season in four years as the Titans' coach. The club was 9-7 in each of his first two years, including an AFC title game berth in 2019. Since then, Vrabel's teams have won back-to-back AFC South titles.

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