Mike Vrabel joins a Tennessee Titans team that owns the greatest luxury a first-time coach can ask for: A franchise quarterback.
"There's ways to win games in this league without a franchise quarterback," Vrabel said. "We got one, we're going to develop him. So I don't think that that's a critical factor. I think what it is is that it has to be the right fit."
"We were scared to death," the new Titans coach said. "He pulled a football on Jadeveon Clowney and ran 40 yards. Thank god he pulled his hamstring running 40 yards. That game wouldn't have been what it was that day in Houston. He's a special talent, a special kid, and I can't wait to work with him and help him through taking that next step in his career. But you get a quarterback that pulls it on J.D., you better have some cojones because J.D. normally swallows those guys up."
The question is what type of coordinator Vrabel will tap to help guide Mariota into the next stage of his growth. Developing the quarterback became the focal point behind the coaching change from Mike Mularkey (who didn't want to switch offensive coordinators) to Vrabel.
Vrabel said Monday he wants to run a diverse offense that takes advantage of Mariota's strengths.
"I believe in screens, I believe in play-action -- things that he does well. ... He's averaging 17 or 18 yards a completion in play-action. Those things scare you as a defensive coordinator, those are big plays that change field position. Those are things we believe in, but we're going to run the football and do it a few different ways."
He added: "We never want to put him in harm's way. We don't want to sit there and run him for the sake of running him. But we want to make sure people know he's back there."
The above quote should be music to the ears of Titans fans. Far too often the previous coaching staff attempted to shove a round peg into a square hole. Mariota was at his best in an up-tempo offense utilizing his legs when his reads broke down. Sadly, it took trailing in most games for Mularkey to deploy such a game-plan.
Vrabel was asked if he plans to run an offense that utilizes more spread and college concepts.
"The NFL has the greatest farm system in the world. We pay those coaches $10 million to be our farm system. Nick Saban is our farm system. Urban Meyer is our farm system," Vrabel said. "We're going to find those types of players, but that's where the game is at. You have to try to be creative with what you're doing. You have to cause conflict. That's what (college coaches) are doing. They're taking great athletes and putting them in good positions to succeed. We're going to do similar things, but again we're not going to put our quarterback in harm's way."
The balance between incorporating college schemes and utilizing the mobile quarterback while keeping the signal-caller healthy will be the biggest challenge for Vrabel's incoming offensive coordinator.