Mike Vrabel already is a three-time Super Bowl-winning linebacker. Now, he’s considering adding another title to his résumé: NFL head coach.
Vrabel, who’s spent the last three seasons as the Houston Texans’ linebackers coach, reportedly plans to interview for the Los Angeles Rams’ head-coaching vacancy.
It would be Vrabel’s first head-coaching gig at any level — he spent three seasons as an assistant at Ohio State before joining the Texans in 2014 — but two of his coaching mentors believe he’s up for the challenge.
“Mike does a tremendous job,” New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Tuesday in a conference call with Houston reporters. “As a player, he was very astute. Not only had a great understanding of his position and techniques and knowledge on how to play his spot and the corresponding positions, but also, from an overall standpoint, he had a very good grasp of the overall defensive concepts and offensive concepts and how they would attack us in different fronts or different pre-snap looks and so forth.”
Belichick, who coached Vrabel from 2001 to 2008, said the two had “several” discussions during Vrabel’s playing career about him eventually joining the coaching ranks.
“Yeah, we talked about that,” Belichick said. “Of course, I never worked with Mike as a coach, but as a player, he certainly showed those qualities. But more importantly than that, there are a lot of players that understand the game well and have good awareness and understanding of how the game is being played, and Mike has great leadership. He’s a good communicator. He’s direct. He gets along with everybody. He has a good way of working with people, and he’s got good leadership skills.”
Four years after Vrabel retired in 2010, Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien — a former Patriots assistant and coordinator — added him to his coaching staff. O’Brien gave a similarly positive review of the former linebacker’s coaching chops during a conference call with New England media members.
“I think it’s a combination of things,” O’Brien said. “I think obviously his career, a 14-year career where he was just an excellent team player, captain for a great organization in New England. And then he got into coaching after he retired and did a nice job at Ohio State, obviously. I was able to hire him here, and he’s done a great job with our linebackers. I think people around the league recognize his knowledge, his leadership capabilities and the type of guy that he is.
“He’s a guy that really cares about people. He cares about football, and he’s a great dad and a great husband. So he’s got all the qualities to be a future head coach.”
The Texans’ coaching staff is chock full of Patriots alumni. Vrabel, defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and special teams coach Larry Izzo all won multiple Super Bowls with New England, and O’Brien got his start as an NFL coach in Foxboro, working under Belichick in various roles from 2007 to 2011.
The Patriots will host the Texans on Saturday night in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs.
Thumbnail photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images