Mike Vrabel's first big decision as Titans coach: Firing a legend

The <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/teams/ten/" data-ylk="slk:Tennessee Titans">Tennessee Titans</a> are reportedly parting ways with defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, who has been coaching in the NFL since 1973. (AP)
The Tennessee Titans are reportedly parting ways with defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, who has been coaching in the NFL since 1973. (AP)

Mike Vrabel has made his first big decision of his tenure as Tennessee Titans head coach: he will not retain defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

Both Jason Wolf of The Tennessean and Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com are reporting the news.

LeBeau, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2010, has been with the Titans since 2015. Over those three years, Tennessee’s defense has been mediocre, at least statistically: they were 27th in points allowed in 2015, 16th in 2016 and 17th this year. In terms of yards allowed, they were 12th, 20th and 13th, respectively.

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The Titans did make the playoffs this year, upsetting the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild-card round before falling to the New England Patriots in the divisional round.

A legend in coaching, LeBeau entered the NFL as a player in 1959, and began his coaching career in 1973. He has coached with the Eagles, Packers, Bengals, Steelers, Bills and Titans. He got one shot to be a head coach: 2000-02, when he held that role with Cincinnati, replacing Bruce Coslet after three games in 2000. The Bengals were 12-33 under LeBeau.

Though he has been part of the NFL as a player or coach for 59 consecutive seasons – he was the oldest coach in the league this year –  this move could signal the end of LeBeau’s career: Wolf wrote that a source said the 80-year-old is “comfortable retiring if it doesn’t work out in Tennessee.”

Known for his innovative “zone blitz,” LeBeau has two Super Bowl rings, both from his 2004-14 stint with Pittsburgh.

Vrabel and LeBeau both played collegiately at Ohio State.

Vrabel is being formally introduced as the Titans’ head coach on Monday afternoon.

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