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Mike Vrabel agrees to become new head coach of Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans have hired Mike Vrabel as the 19th head coach in franchise history, the team announced Saturday.

Vrabel, 42, will replace Mike Mularkey, who was fired Monday. The Titans will give Vrabel a five-year contract, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

A 14-year NFL veteran and three-time Super Bowl champion, Vrabel spent the past four seasons coaching the Houston Texans, including 2017 as their defensive coordinator.

"We want to build a culture around winning, competitiveness and toughness," Vrabel said. "Everything we do is going to be geared towards winning and being physical. We want to prepare our players so they know what to do, which will allow them to play fast and aggressive."

The Texans, meanwhile, will replace Vrabel with Romeo Crennel, adding to his previous title of assistant head coach, coach Bill O'Brien told Fox 26 in Houston.

Titans general manager Jon Robinson handpicked Vrabel as his first interview candidate. Earlier this week, Robinson described his ideal head coach as being a "leader of men, team-first, detailed, tough and dependable," qualities that Vrabel has received high praise for both as a coach and a player.

Robinson and Vrabel spent seven years together in New England, from 2002-08, when Vrabel was a player and Robinson was cutting his teeth in the Patriots' scouting department. That relationship certainly played a role in this hire.

"I have always had a great deal of respect for Mike as a player and as a coach," Robinson said. "I saw him up close as a player for the Patriots and saw how he prepared himself to be successful on a daily basis. He was the ultimate team-first player, and he embodies that same mindset as a coach. He is intelligent, energetic, detailed and a leader whose deep passion for this game will resonate with our players. As a coach, I have seen him develop talent at both the college and NFL level, and put players in position for them to be successful. I am excited to get him in front of our team and watch us grow together as a team."

Vrabel is scheduled to be introduced by the Titans at a news conference Monday at Saint Thomas Sports Park.

Vrabel's offensive staff will be extremely important, and it's likely he detailed a solid plan to convince Robinson he could bring in strong coaches to maximize their offensive talent and get the most out of quarterback Marcus Mariota, who took a big step back in his third NFL season.

It's yet to be seen who will fill the all-important roles of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Mariota's development will be essential, and those hires could be just as important as Vrabel's.

Most of the Titans assistant coaches, including defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, are under contract through the 2018 season, and Vrabel will decide which ones he will keep.

With this hire, the Titans prioritized culture, leadership and maximizing the talent on the field. Robinson said it was "paramount" that he and the new head coach be aligned in everything involving the Titans organization. They clearly believe they are.

"In the interaction between Mike and Jon during the interview, you could see their connection right away from the history they have with one another -- seeing the game in a similar way and talking the same language," controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said. "Mike has a commanding presence and a deep understanding for how he will attack this head coaching opportunity. Throughout his football career, he has played for, been mentored by and coached with successful teams and organizations. He knows what it takes to reach that level of sustained success -- he has seen it first-hand. We have a chance to build on the solid foundation that we established over the past couple of years and I believe Mike is the right person to continue that progress."

Vrabel's first task will be selling his culture and mission to a strong Titans locker room that achieved the most success for this franchise since the 2003 season. Taking the next step from playoff team to championship contender won't be easy, but Robinson and Strunk clearly believe Vrabel is up for the task.

The Titans also interviewed Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur and Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks for the job.

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