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Titans fire head coach Mike Vrabel: Derrick Henry ‘shocked’ by departure, Taylor Lewan responds live on-air

The Tennessee Titans are officially on the hunt for their next head coach. On Tuesday, the team announced that it had fired head coach Mike Vrabel after six seasons.

Vrabel led the team to three playoff appearances in his first four years with the Titans, but they missed the playoffs the last two years. This season, Tennessee ended with a 6-11 record, last in the AFC South.

Many were surprised to hear the news, including fans, media and even one of his former players. Following the firing, running back Derrick Henry, who has spent his entire career thus far with the Titans, reacted to the news.

“Wow. Wow. I’m shocked. Coach Vrabel is a leader of men. He is a great coach and teacher. I know he will get another opportunity right away. I look forward to it,” Henry, who is a free agent this offseason, said (via Dianna Russini).

Henry will likely be heading somewhere else as well, as he seemingly said goodbye to the Titans and their fans in the team’s final game of 2023. The running back called his eight seasons with the Titans the greatest of his life, and six of those years came under the leadership of Vrabel.

Another one of Vrabel’s former player was surprised at the news and had nothing but positive things to say about the head coach. Former Titans offensive tackle Taylor Lewan learned about the firing live on the Rich Eisen Show and was visibly shocked.

“That is nuts. … as the season was unfolding to me it was very clear that Vrabes was not the problem. It just wasn’t a team that was filled with enough talent to be truly competitive in the NFL … you could point a lot of fingers, but I didn’t think the finger you could truly point at was Vrabel,” Lewan said, later adding, “I cannot believe it.”

Lewan played for Vrabel in all six of the head coach’s time in Tennessee and noted some of the accomplishments the team had under his leadership.

“He’s the absolute best is what he is,” Lewan said. “Under Vrabel we were at an AFC Championship, we were in position to be contenders for a Super Bowl … I love [owner] Amy [Adams Strunk] and I love that franchise. I think they just made a mistake. I think they just made a big mistake.”

Lewan believes Vrabel will “be just fine,” adding that he can win games and will be highly sought after by teams with vacancies.

Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk called the firing a difficult decision and thanked Vrabel for what he has done for the team and the community.

“As the NFL continues to innovate and evolve I believe the teams best positioned for sustained success will be those who empower an aligned and collaborative team across all football functions,” she said. “Last year, we began a shift in our approach to football leadership and made several changes to our personnel to advance that plan. As I continued to assess the state of our team, I arrived at the conclusion that the team would also benefit from the fresh approach and perspective of a new coaching staff.”

The Titans gig was Vrabel’s first head coaching job and he finished his time there with a 54-45 record, a .545 winning percentage. He went 2-3 in playoff games.

Vrabel’s next spot is not yet known, but many are linking him to a possible reunion with the New England Patriots, where he won three Super Bowls as a player. With current head coach Bill Belichick’s future uncertain, a path for Vrabel’s return could be there. The Los Angeles Chargers, Washington Commanders, Las Vegas Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers are other teams that could be interested.

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