Mike Vrabel offers more to Browns than consultant title suggests

Mike Vrabel, Cleveland Browns
Mike Vrabel, Cleveland Browns / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

Very rarely does an elite coaching hire practically fall out of the sky. Usually, candidates with excellent resumes a mile long aren't on the market long when interviewing for coaching positions in the NFL. The shocking news hit this past week that the Cleveland Browns hired Mike Vrabel as a consultant to both the coaching staff and personnel.

This move was in the works for a while as reported by Ian Rapoport Vrabel met with Kevin Stefanski and Andrew Berry at the combine in Indianapolis weeks ago. Now while Mike Vrabel may have the title of "consultant" he has so much to offer this Browns team.

A consultant is one of the loosely defined coaching positions in the NFL, but it doesn't mean that the Browns don't have a specific and detailed role for Vrabel. Per Robert Mays of The Athletic Mike Vrabel is "to act as a sounding board for Kevin Stefanski but also as a resource for a coaching staff with a lot of youth and turnover."

This makes a lot of sense as Cleveland has hired new coaches at defensive line, offensive coordinator, tight ends, offensive line, and many other spots. The Browns wanted a veteran coaching presence to help make sure the transition moves as smoothly as possible.

Vrabel's resume is easily the best of any 48-year-old coach in the NFL. As a player, he played 14 seasons in the NFL starting 140 games. He's most known for his eight years as a New England Patriot where he was a three-time Super Bowl champion and an All-Pro in 2007.

After retiring following the 2010 NFL season, Vrabel wasted no time and immediately sought out a coaching role for his Alma Mater at Ohio State where he coached the linebackers and then the defensive line for three years. NFL teams started to see his impact and in 2014 the Houston Texans brought him in to coach the linebacker position. Three years later, he was promoted to defensive coordinator where despite losing his best defensive player after five games JJ Watt, Vrabel's defense was third in the league in the percentage of drives ending in a score.

Tennesee took notice as they hired Vrabel to be their head coach in 2018 and to say he exceeded expectations with his roster of players is an understatement. During his six years as the Titans head coach, he had a winning season his first four years, went to the playoffs three straight years from 2019-2021, and even went as far as the AFC Championship game. This was without ever having a true franchise quarterback.

So how did such a great coach end up in this position?

Most would say Tennesee's GM Jon Robinson trading away their best offensive weapon, wide receiver AJ Brown in the 2022 offseason sparked the downfall of the Titans. After two losing seasons, the new GM Ran Carthon decided a change needed to be made. Many thought Vrabel would be immediately hired by another team as a head coach or coordinator. Surprisingly, the entire coaching cycle went by and Vrabel was still available.

How is that so? Well, it was reported by Dianna Russini that many coaches and executives were possibly intimidated by Vrabel's stature, which he is a 6-foot-4 former NFL player who is big enough to throw on some pads and challenge his players in practices and drills. This wasn't a problem for Stefanski and Berry as they proved time and time again they are truly an ego-less front office and coaching staff, willing to always look to get better no matter the addition or subtraction.

In the end, this addition to the coaching staff will only help the team. Vrabel has massive amounts of knowledge and even worked with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz for two years in Tennesee when Vrabel hired him as a consultant.

This wasn't a move to one day replace Kevin Stefanski as head coach but to get one more great defensive mind in the building. Who's to say after another great year Jim Schwartz doesn't get offers to be a head coach again? Vrabel would then be next in line to take over.

What we do know, is the Browns got one hell of a steal to add to the coaching staff and the team got better after making this move. With his energy, leadership, and willingness to be extremely hands-on with his players, Vrabel will be a catalyst as the historic Browns defense takes another step forward.

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