NEWS

A Closer Look: Mike Vrabel

Posted Jan 3, 2018

Tim Twentyman and Mike O’Hara take a closer look at head coaching candidate Mike Vrabel.

Mike Vrabel

Current job: Defensive coordinator, Houston Texans (2017 to present).

NFL job log: Coached Texans linebackers (2014-16). Had a 14-year NFL playing career as a linebacker with Pittsburgh (1997-2000), New England (2001-2008) and Kansas City (2009-10).

Detroit connection: Vrabel joined the Patriots in 2001, one year after Lions general manager Bob Quinn joined New England’s front office. The two won Super Bowl titles in 2001, 2003 and 2004. Quinn should know what kind of coach he’d be getting in Vrabel.

Specialty: Vrabel was on the NFL’s Career Development Advisory Panel’s list of recommended candidates distributed to all 32 NFL teams in December. He’s quickly climbed the coaching ranks, going from a position coach at his alma mater Ohio State to running the Texans’ defense in just five seasons. He’s a no-nonsense coach, who’s been able to maximize the talent he’s been given to coach up.

Career highlight: Vrabel was instrumental in developing Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus and Benardrick McKinney, who all landed All-Pro honors in 2016. One of the more versatile players to ever play the game, Vrabel also has 12 career receptions and all 12 were for touchdowns, including two in the Super Bowl with New England.

Quotable: "Mike is a great leader, good knowledge of the National Football League. I wish him the best ... But we would love to have him back here,” Texans head coach Bill O’Brien told houstontexans.com.

Tim Twentyman’s take: Houston’s defense ranked 32nd in points allowed this season, but that unit was decimated by injury. The Texans finished the year with 20 players on IR, including J.J. Watt and Mercilus. Vrabel is well respected among his players, and has a reputation for getting the most out of them.

Mike O’Hara’s take: Playing his first four seasons in Pittsburgh under Bill Cowher and the next eight in New England under Bill Belichick should be good preparation for a coaching career with the combination of Cowher’s passion and Belichick’s endless search for perfection. Former Detroit Lions linebacker Chris Spielman says Vrabel would bring toughness to the Lions. That’s an endorsement that carries weight.