Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel. Photo by Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports

By Ron Wynn

NASHVILLE, TN — The Tennessee Titans playoff hopes ended prematurely as the Cincinnati Bengals destroyed any hopes of the AFC Championship game being in Nashville. But while the pain of that loss remains for many fans, the team did get one significant postseason honor last week. Head coach Mike Vrabel was selected Coach of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America. It’s his second such award, as previously  the 101 Awards also gave him that award.

Vrabel is now the favorite to get a third such honor, the AP NFL Coach of the Year, which will be handed out at the NFL Honors show on February 10. During the regular season Vrabel’s work was exemplary. The Titans finished with a 12-5 record and the AFC’s number one seed. They beat three of the four teams that made it to the conference championship games, including both NFL finalists Los Angeles and San Francisco. All that occurred despite a host of injuries that saw the team field an NFL record 91 players. The losses included Derrick Henry, who missed the final nine games and was leading the NFL in rushing prior to his injury. 

Now the Titans will have some major contract issues to address going into the 2022-23 season, with Vrabel’s being among them. He is in the final year of his contract. The same is true for defensive lineman Jeffrey Simmons, a second team All-Pro, and wide receiver A.J. Brown, both of whom are in the final season of their rookie contracts. Then linebacker Harold Landry, who also had an excellent season, is in the last year of his contract as well.

The Titans will most likely lose running back D’Onta Foreman, who filled in so well while Henry was injured. He’s earned the right to be a starter and will no doubt seek a deal with a new team. While fans are clamoring for changes at QB and offensive coordinator, thus far the only changes that the team has made involve one position coach and three assistants. Last week they released inside linebackers coach Jim Haslett, assistant defensive line coach Kenechi Udeze, assistant special teams coach Matt Edwards, and assistant strength and conditioning coach, Mondray Gee. Edwards spent four seasons with the Titans, Gee three, Haslem two and Udeze one.