Bill O'Brien is Not Sending Mike Vrabel a Christmas Card Just Yet With the Texans Playing the Titans This Sunday
Patrick D. Starr
In a critical AFC South matchup between the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans, Bill O'Brien will be once again matching wits with good friend and pupil Titans head coach Mike Vrabel. Last year, the two teams split their regular-season games, and now there is a little more on the line with both sides tied for first atop of the AFC South with an 8-5 record.
O'Brien and Vrabel keep in contact throughout the off-season. During the season, the two check up on each other to see how each other is doing. This week there has not been much communication at all between the two head coaches with their game on Sunday.
"Hell no, hell no, we don't talk this week," O'Brien said on a conference call on Tuesday when asked about talking to Vrabel. "We are not trading Christmas cards yet."
When the Texans hired Vrabel to be the linebackers coach out of Ohio State, many inside the building knew that he would be a head coach either in the college ranks or the NFL.
When the Titans came calling before the 2018 season, Vrabel bolted the Texans after serving as the Texans defensive coordinator and led the Titans to a 9-7 record.
"Mike is great," O'Brien said of Vrabel. "And I think everybody knew that he would be a great coach in this league. He did a great job for us for four years, and our families are close -- Mike is a good friend of mine."
Vrabel made his home in Houston, and the four seasons he spent with the Texans helped develop both Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus into better players. His influence on players in the building was evident with their play, and O'Brien is still appreciative of Vrabel's impact before leaving for the Titans.
"When you are in coaching, and you work with guys, and you spend 18 hours a day with a guy, you have some good friendships," O'Brien continued on Vrabel. "I am close with (Jaguars coach) Doug Marrone. So we're friends outside of football. When we do talk, it is always about family. We rarely talk about football. But we don't talk this week. I tried to call him this morning, but he didn't call me back – I'm just kidding. I'm kidding."
O'Brien prepared Vrable to be a head coach when he arrived from Ohio State, pointing out situations along the way. Those times that O'Brien took to show Vrabel to head coaching ropes is something that Vrabel appreciates more than ever as the Titans head coach.
"Billy brought me into this league from a coaching perspective," Vrabel said of working for O'Brien in Houston. "I would say that he probably prepared me more than anybody for this job. So, I'm thankful for that because he would tell me like, 'You're going to have to deal with this, this and this,' and whether I believed him or not, he would try to do things to get me ready for this opportunity. I'm thankful for that."
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