I always feel bad for coaches that lose their jobs when they get beat in what truly was an outcome that based on the evidence was inevitable. I watched once when both a legendary coach and legendary quarterback called it quits in the shadow of a 62-7 postseason drubbing by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Jimmy Johnson is remembered for his glory years in Dallas, a team he coached for five years and led to a pair of Super Bowl wins. He also served as the Miami Dolphins head coach for four seasons, and it ended after that playoff loss to the Jaguars in the 1999 playoffs.
Before that one-sided defeat I saw the elements working against the Dolphins, who had survived a competitive game in Seattle the week before in a Wild Card game. The probability of domination by a well rested and talented Jaguars squad was highly likely. Sixty-two-to-seven was a bit over the top. The performance also set Jacksonville up for a loss the following week to the visiting Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game, 33-14.
But, for both Johnson, and his quarterback at Miami, Dan Marino, the shellacking in Jacksonville ended their careers. Johnson resigned as coach and Marino called it quits.
I think they both overreacted to the obvious.
I tell you that to earn your compassion for men who take on the job of having their work results broadcast to the masses, win or lose. John Madden, one time Oakland Raiders Head Coach, used to complain that his results were so open to scrutiny while doctors and lawyers didn’t have their records posted on a scoreboard at their workplace.
“You’d be careful heading to a doctor who had nine deaths in the last year on his record,” Madden said with that familiar roll of laughter in his voice.
Here is why I am asking for your compassion. Not for me, but for Mike Vrabel.
He is a really good guy, respected football man and liked by his players. So, go easy on him next week when he loses a second straight game to a winless team. The Titans are going to follow up their loss to the Jets with a defeat at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Go easy on the coach, he didn’t have a chance.
Following their loss to the Jets, the Titans are still alone in first place in the AFC South Division. That means they don’t have the pull of needing a win to close on a division leader. They certainly need to play better than they did last week, losing to New York in overtime, 27-24, but while confident of a road triumph they don’t have a motivational sprocket to catch while not challenged seriously by the Jaguars. That mindset can set a team up for failure.
Unfortunately for the Titans, this is a really bad time for a sitting duck to tread into the path of Jacksonville’s first win with Trevor Lawrence at quarterback. The Titans can’t improve on last week’s play without a fear of failure, which they can’t fake. Tennessee coaches, beginning with Vrabel, will be preaching how no game is for sure, you need to focus and all the rhetoric that goes with asking for motivation.
Motivation doesn’t come from a pep talk, it rallies with recognition that if your team is going to win you have to be the one to get it done. And even if you play your best, you might not win.
The Titans can’t fake away the assumption that they are going to respond to their loss against the Jets with a big win over the Jaguars.
Faulty thinking, and the exact thought process that has Tennessee losing a second straight game to a previously winless squad.
Now, no one make any sudden moves, don’t ask for Vrabel’s immediate dismissal, just let the result sink in and move onto your next game, the Buffalo Bills. After all, that is probably the game the Titans were thinking about when they coasted through their preparation for Jacksonville.
Qoxhi Picks: Jacksonville Jaguars (+4) over Tennessee Titans