When you have been around the NFL as long as Las Vegas Raiders coach Josh McDaniels has, you run into your fair share of former acquaintances over the span of a season.
Such will be true yet again this week as McDaniels will be on the opposing sideline of one of his longest-known figures in this league.
Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel and McDaniels go all the way back to 2001, McDaniels' first year on the New England Patriots coaching staff.
That was the same year Vrabel joined the Patriots as a free-agent linebacker.
"I came into the league and Mike ended up with the Patriots; we ended up at the same time," McDaniels said in the Raiders' media availability on Wednesday. "Our very first year was '01, and just to see him as a player -- very tough-minded guy, physical, did all the little things right. Very intelligent, highly intelligent player. Could play the game [mentally] just as well as he could physically and was a huge component to those defenses back then for a number of years and won a number of championships and was a big reason why.
"You see that from his football team. They're always prepared. Nothing's easy. They don't concede one yard on defense. I don't care what play it is, what game it is, they're not going to give you anything. They want to control and dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides. They do the same thing in the kicking game. So there's no question that the way he wants to play, you can see it. Put any game film on you want and it's going to jump out at you. I'm sure he'll have them ready to go this week. He always does. And they play the way that he wants them to play."
Not do McDaniels and Vrabel have ties to New England, but the two are also both natives of Northeast Ohio. McDaniels was born in Barberton, while Vrabel was born in Akron.
"He's an excellent football coach," Vrabel said in his media availability session on Wednesday. "Somebody that I was able to see grow as a player and go on [to] further his coaching career as I kind of got into mine. And he's done a fantastic job, and I'm sure he'll have his football team ready.
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