Versatility is the name of Mike Vrabel’s coaching game.
And in his first media session since the trade the Tennessee Titans acquired wide receiver Julio Jones in a trade Sunday, the fourth-year head coach acknowledged Jones’ many well-known attributes add to an already-dangerous offense.
“I think this gives a lot of versatility to where we can line guys up and how we function as an offense,” Vrabel said. “I am unquestionably excited about having him.”
Thursday marked Jones’ first day at the office. He took part in the last of the team’s nine organized team activities (OTAs) this offseason and confirmed he would be back for next week’s mandatory minicamp.
Vrabel did not provide specifics for the wideout’s schematic fit within the offense. However, he repeatedly praised Jones’ willingness and eagerness to work, as well as the physical attributes that set the sixth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft apart from most wide receivers in the league.
“Right now, we are trying to get him acclimated,” Vrabel said. “He’s a productive player and a big target, strong hands and sure-handed. I’ve enjoyed his attitude and the interactions I’ve had with him about our football team and about his willingness to come in here and try to learn how we do things.”
Vrabel did concede that the addition of Jones, a seven-time Pro Bowler, alleviates some offensive pressure from the other players featured at key skill positions.
One is wide receiver A.J. Brown. The two have been friends, and now they are teammates. With Jones on the field, it’s assumed that both receivers will experience fewer double-teams, and more opportunities at one-on-one battles, with favorable matchups.
It’s a little wrinkle in Vrabel’s versatility pie that he will undoubtedly enjoy.
“His impact can obviously help a lot of people,” Vrabel said.
Vrabel, who as a player was teammates with Tom Brady, also noted that impact of adding a player of Jones’ stature goes beyond the field or the stat sheet right into the locker room.
“There are ways to do things that veteran players that have been successful in this league can also try to explain things to younger players,” Vrabel said. “Sometimes those are your best coaches. I am sure he can provide some of that.”
Whether it’s on the field when it comes to versatility or off the field in guiding young players, Jones brings something extra to the Titans’ offensive unit.
It may take some time before he is fully integrated into the mix, but Thursday was a first step, and in Vrabel’s mind, it was one in the right direction.
“It comes down to always putting the team first, and being willing to do whatever is best for the football team,” he said. “That is what we are charged to do as coaches, to make sure everyone fits into what we are doing and getting them to buy into what we believe in.”