Patriots Talk Podcast

Will Mike Vrabel alter Patriots' succession plan for Belichick?

The Titans relieved Vrabel of his duties as head coach on Tuesday.

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The Tennessee Titans' surprising firing of Mike Vrabel has New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft a difficult decision to make.

Linebackers coach Jerod Mayo has been expected to succeed Bill Belichick when the Patriots part ways with their longtime head coach. New England announced its commitment to Mayo last offseason, resulting in Mayo turning down both head coach and defensive coordinator interviews with other teams.

With Belichick's Patriots tenure likely over, Vrabel's unexpected availability may have thrown a wrench in Kraft's succession plans. Vrabel is a Patriots Hall of Famer with six years of head-coaching experience -- including a Coach of the Year award -- under his belt. Given Vrabel's résumé and his status in Foxboro, Kraft has to at least think about changing course.

Will Kraft consider altering his Belichick succession plan with Vrabel officially on the market? Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry discussed in a new episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast.

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"I think there would be a groundswell of interest because look, you have (Jerod) Mayo -- I think there's a hell of a lot of similarities between Mayo and Vrabel. A lot of them. ... What argues for Mike Vrabel is the simple fact that he's done it longer. He's been an NFL Coach of the Year. He has coached in the playoffs. He's done all those things. ...

"If the decision made has been what Robert Kraft indicated at the owners' meetings when he called Jerod Mayo the heir apparent -- and he also said, 'We're in a transition phase' -- then the emergence of any candidates right now, including the most prized candidate, Mike Vrabel, might not move them at all."

Perry isn't totally convinced Vrabel would move the needle enough for Kraft to ditch his previous plans for Mayo.

"I think he's a good fit in theory, no question, and I think he's a good coach," he said. "But is he such a slam dunk that he should change their plans in that fashion? I'm not sure."

The biggest challenge for Kraft, as Curran points out, will be convincing Patriots fans that parting ways with Belichick and hiring the inexperienced Mayo over Vrabel is the right move for the future of the franchise.

"You can't just tap somebody on the shoulder on Thursday and say, 'You're the guy' without putting him in a position to succeed," Curran said. "So that's what's interesting to me is, if it isn't Mike Vrabel, and it isn't Bill Belichick and it is, as everything is pointing to, Jerod Mayo, what will be incumbent upon the Krafts is explaining to the fanbase and the media, 'And this is why'?"

Also in the episode:

  • Why the Bill Belichick decision could be taking longer than expected  
  • Belichick makes it clear he has a contract, and he’s not scared to use it! 
  • Why the Falcons make the most sense for Belichick 
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