We asked our friends at Battle Red Blog to help us get to know defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel.
In our efforts to continually learn more about the Detroit Lions’ head coaching candidates, we tapped our friends at Battle Red Blog to help get to know Mike Vrabel, one of the Lions’ top two candidates, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Battle Red Blog contributor Jeremy Brener (good name) gave us some of his time to give us the background on Vrabel and what the Lions can expect from him if he’s the Lions’ choice.
Follow Jeremy on Twitter here for more of his thoughts
1. The No. 1 concern surrounding Mike Vrabel as a viable head coach is his lack of experience. Do you think that’s a legitimate concern?
Jeremy Brener: No. I think Vrabel is a respected coach all throughout the business and he’s been in the league for nearly two decades spanning his time as a player and coach. He is arguably inexperienced in coaching having only been a member of an NFL coaching staff for just four years and a coordinator for one, but he is a student of the game and that’s why I think he’s one of the top HC candidates.
2. How concerned should fans of Vrabel be of the Texans’ poor defensive performance in 2017 (23rd in DVOA, 32nd in points allowed)? Can it all be excused by injuries?
Jeremy Brener: On a scale of 1-10, I’d say it’s about a 5. I’m not necessarily defending Vrabel but a large part of why the team finished last in points allowed was the amount of turnovers the offense had and the poor secondary play. The front seven, Vrabel’s specialty, actually played quite well despite the numerous amount of injuries. Had AJ Bouye been signed back by the front office, the defense also would have looked a lot better. Vrabel should take some responsibility, but he was certainly not in the best position to succeed.
3. One of your writers mocked the “Leader of men” narrative surrounding Vrabel as overblown. Do you see it that way? How important has Vrabel’s leadership skills been in Houston? Do you have a specific example of how his leadership skills have helped a player?
Jeremy Brener: He’s molded some of our young front seven into strong players, especially Benardrick McKinney and rookie Zach Cunningham. I do believe Vrabel has been an important part to both of their developments. He’s had a strong impact on them and the team enjoys playing for their staff.
4. What is Vrabel’s defensive philosophy? Is it consistent or more dependent on his personnel (ie: does he scheme to his players’ strengths)?
Jeremy Brener: Vrabel really likes to get in the other team’s backfield. He’ll send plenty of guys on the early downs to try and get the opponent into 3rd & longs. Now, 3rd downs were a struggle for Houston because the corners would get beat a lot of the time. I think Vrabel did pretty decent for the personnel had in his first season.
5. What is your favorite thing about Mike Vrabel? Least favorite?
Jeremy Brener: He’s very good with the young linebackers. Jarrad Davis will become a Pro Bowler for sure if he jets up there. I’d say my least favorite is his inability to combat big plays. Houston gave up a TON this year and Vrabel never really had an answer for them. That could be personnel problem as well, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a coaching issue as well.