Titans Hire Jim Haslett, Won't Have a Defensive Coordinator

David Boclair

NASHVILLE – It is possible that Dean Pees is irreplaceable.

Mike Vrabel did the best he could – at least – to find someone similar.

The Tennessee Titans announced Thursday that Jim Haslett is their new inside linebackers coach, which means he officially fills that spot that belonged to Tyrone McKenzie for the past two seasons.

Based on his experience and his reputation as one of the NFL’s top defensive minds, though, he effectively steps in for Dean Pees, who retired last month after two seasons as the Titans’ defensive coordinator. As was the case with Pees, Haslett coached Vrabel when the latter was a player.

No one will have the “defensive coordinator” title in 2020. It is also unclear at the moment whether Vrabel, Haslett or some combination of the two will call the defensive plays during games.

In addition to Haslett’s hiring, the Titans announced that Ryan Crow and Matt Edwards have swapped roles and that Scott Booker has been promoted from defensive assistant to safeties coach. Crow will now be special teams assistant and Edwards will be a defensive assistant.

Haslett spent the past three seasons as linebackers coach with the Cincinnati Bengals. Before that, he was an NFL defensive coordinator or head coach for 18 seasons in a 19-year span (he coached in the United Football League in 2009). He was 45-51 as New Orleans Saints head coach from 2000-05 and went 2-10 as interim head coach of the St. Louis Rams for the final 12 games of 2008.

He spent three seasons as Pittsburgh’s defensive coordinator (1997-99), which also were the first three seasons of Vrabel’s playing career.

Pees coached Vrabel for three seasons at New England (2006-08) and was the first staff member Vrabel hired when he became Tennessee’s head coach. Under Pees, the defense finished third in the NFL in scoring in 2018 and 12 in 2019.