A Surprise Coach Firing Could Benefit the Vikings

Tennessee Titans Head Coach Mike Vrabel heads off the field after beating the Jacksonville Jaguars – and knocking them out of the playoffs – after their game at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024.

Black Monday gets its name for being the day after the conclusion of the NFL regular season when a number of coaches and executives get fired.

However, sometimes these firings extend into the following days, and on Tuesday morning, a surprise coach firing took place that sent shockwaves through the NFL. That firing involved Mike Vrabel, who was relieved of his duties as head coach of the Tennessee Titans. This move is extremely surprising, but it could end up benefiting the Vikings in 2024.

A Surprise Coach Firing Could Benefit the Vikings

Coach Firing
Tennessee Titans quarterback Malik Willis (7) speaks with head coach Mike Vrabel during the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023.

First and foremost, the news of Vrabel’s firing was initially reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, who tweeted, “Sources: #Titans coach Mike Vrabel will not return in 2024, sources say, as both sides will move on after six seasons that included one Coach of the Year nod for Vrabel. He’s expected to be one of the top candidates available.”

Vrabel’s Titans went 6-11 this season, but it was never expected to be a great year for the Titans because of an aging offense along with multiple holes in their defense. Despite the disappointing season, Vrabel finishes his head coaching tenure with the Titans with a 54-45 record.

So, how exactly could this benefit the Vikings? Well, before Vrabel was a coach, he spent fourteen seasons as an NFL linebacker from 1997-2010. Ten of those seasons were spent with the New England Patriots where he was coached by Bill Belichick.

Dec 3, 2007; Baltimore, MD, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel (50) before the start of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit – James Lang USA TODAY Sports

As a result, there have been whispers for awhile that, if he were eventually let go by Tennessee, he could be the coach to replace Belichick in New England when the time came.

However, Vrabel is not the only coach with a past history in New England who could qualify for that head coaching job. Current Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores got his NFL coaching career started with the Patriots where he served under Belichick in various roles from 2004-18.

Considering how he turned around Minnesota’s defense in 2023, Flores should get head coaching interest this offseason, and the Patriots look like a seamless landing spot if he were interested in taking on a head coaching role.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Oct 15, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores watches his team play against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Flores transformed a Vikings defense that allowed the third-most points in 2022 to one that ranked 13th in the same category during the 2023 season. The Vikings should do whatever they can in order to keep him around next season, and with Vrabel now entering the ring of head coaching candidates, Minnesota’s odds of doing just that seem to have increased.

As great as Flores’ coaching resume might be, Vrabel’s is simply a touch better. He led the Titans to three consecutive playoff appearances from 2019-2021, including an AFC Championship Game appearance in 2019. Because of this, Vrabel is likely a more enticing HC candidate for a number of teams even outside of New England.

We’ll see what happens when the hiring cycle officially gets going. Ultimately, though, Vrabel’s firing makes the chances of Minnesota being able to retain Flores just a tad better.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.