LOS ANGELES — Titans head coach Mike Vrabel on Thursday night was named 2021 NFL Coach of the Year by the Associated Press.
Vrabel was recognized at the NFL Honors here in Los Angeles just three days before Super Bowl LVI.
"It is an honor and a privilege to play and coach in this league," Vrabel said on stage. "And having coached in the Pro Bowl (last week), I know our game is in good hands. My job and every coach's job is to teach, develop and to make a connection, and to make an impact.
"I want to thank our owner, Amy Adams Strunk, and I want to thank my family. I want to thank my wife Jen, I want to thank my sons Tyler and Carter. I want to thank my best friend – I want to thank (John Streicher) 'Stretch' (the team's Coordinator of Football Development). This is a reflection of our 91 players that helped us win 12 games, and our coaching staff. Thank you, and this is a pleasure."
Last month, Vrabel was also named 2021 Coach of the Year by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).
Vrabel guided the Titans to a record of 12-5 during the regular season. Vrabel's Titans captured the AFC's No.1 seed for the first time since the 2008 season. The 12 wins in the regular season were the most for the franchise since 2008, when the Titans finished 13-3.
During a zoom interview after the presentation, Vrabel discussed the strong culture in Tennessee while working alongside General Manager Jon Robinson. The Titans announced on Tuesday they'd agreed to a contract extensions with Vrabel, who was hired before the 2018 season, and Robinson, the team's GM since 2016.
"I think it is about the people that we bring in, and it is also about our leaders," Vrabel said. "Everybody talks about culture, and the thing that I tell our football team is we are going to define our culture by what we look like when we are at our worst. Because it is easy to say everybody has a great culture when you are winning. But when you go through struggles and maybe you lose a couple of games in a row, that is maybe when I take a peek and see what our culture looks like. I am excited about it because we have had adversity and we've been able to persevere through that."
Vrabel said Amy Adams Strunk "demands the best of Jon and myself, but she let's us do our jobs."
"If there's things that she wants, she will tell us, and obviously we do it," Vrabel said. "But she allows Jon and I to do our jobs, she trusts us to work through things, to have conversations about personnel, and about the direction of the team. … She's given us the resources to continue to build meeting rooms and classrooms (at the facility) to help team our players. I can't say enough about her and her family."
Vrabel's Titans won the AFC South for the second straight season in 2021, and the organization made its third consecutive postseason appearance in his four seasons as head coach.
The Titans used 91 players during the 2021 season, an NFL record for a non-strike season.
Vrabel's overall record since taking over as coach of the Titans is 44-27, including regular season and playoffs. In 2021, Vrabel tied Jack Pardee for the most total wins by a head coach in his first four seasons with the organization. In Pardee's first four seasons as head coach from 1990 through 1993, the Oilers were 43-26, including playoffs. Of all Titans/Oilers head coaches with at least four seasons with the franchise, Vrabel's career winning percentage ranks the highest.
On several occasions Thursday night, Vrabel thanked those around him.
He said coaching – and playing – is a commitment from everyone, so everyone shares in success.
"That goes for the coaching staff, and their families," Vrabel said. "And I always tell our players: Go back and look when we lost to the Jets, the number of people that texted you after that game. Because everybody texts you when you win, but nobody texts you when you lose and says, 'Hey, hang in there. You'll get them next week.' But that's what our families do, and that's what our kids do.
"So, I am always reminding that to our players: Not too many people remember you when you lose, or text you when you lose, and (the families) are in it for the long haul."