UPDATE [8:15 PM]: It has now been reported that McKenzie was fired per Paul Kuharsky.
Tyrone McKenzie was fired by the #Titans.— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) January 30, 2020
So that clears up the speculation about the nature of McKenzie’s departure. We will probably never get the details for the reasons behind his firing though. The inside linebackers as a position group generally performed well during his two years in Tennessee, though McKenzie was given a lot of talent to work with in first round pick Rashaan Evans, veteran Wesley Woodyard, and Jayon Brown.
Best wishes to Tyrone on his new opportunity in Detroit.
UPDATE [4:55 PM]: McKenzie will be joining the Detroit Lions coaching staff according to 104.5 The Zone’s Brent Dougherty. The Lions hired former Eagles defensive backs coach Cory Undlin to be their defensive coordinator last week so McKenzie will likely be making a lateral move here.
As @glennonsports reported, Tyrone McKenzie is leaving the Titans. McKenzie will join the Detroit Lions coaching staff.— Brent Dougherty (@brentdougherty) January 29, 2020
Lions head coach Matt Patricia was McKenzie’s first position coach when he got drafted in the NFL by the Patriots back in 2009 so there is the obvious connection.
The Titans defensive coaching staff continues to see change this offseason. Inside linebackers coach Tyrone McKenzie is reportedly moving on from his post with the team per The Athletic’s John Glennon.
#Titans have another hole to fill on their defensive coaching staff.— John Glennon (@glennonsports) January 29, 2020
--ILB coach Tyrone McKenzie no longer with the team. He's headed to another team. Move has yet to be announced, unsure of specific role.
--So Titans now looking for new DC and new ILB coach. DB spot was filled.
Details are extremely vague at the moment, but this tweet from ESPN’s Turron Davenport makes it sound as if McKenzie does not have another job lined up at this time.
Confirmed that the Titans and ILB coach Tyrone McKenzie have in fact parted ways. Coach McKenzie will eventually join another staff. https://t.co/7vULEGoPhk— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) January 29, 2020
McKenzie had been mysteriously removed from the team’s online listing of current coaches earlier in the week so this confirms that the removal was not an accident. Whose idea it was for the team and McKenzie to part ways remains to be seen.
From an outsider’s point of view, it seemed like he had done an excellent job with the team’s inside linebackers since leaving the Rams to join Vrabel’s staff in 2018. Jayon Brown’s level of play continued it’s upward trajectory and young linebackers Rashaan Evans and David Long were both able to make early impacts. I liked McKenzie when he was hired based on early interviews and thought he would one day make a good defensive coordinator candidate. That might still be true, but we know it won’t be here in 2020 now.
There are plenty of avenues for speculation about the reasoning behind his sudden departure. Did he get passed over for the defensive coordinator position and ask for his release out of frustration? Was Vrabel not entirely happy with his performance? Maybe McKenzie just wanted a fresh start somewhere else?
Whatever the reason, the Titans now have two seats on the defensive coaching staff that need to be filled following the hire of Anthony Midget as defensive backs coach yesterday. Mike Vrabel will need to land a new inside linebackers coach and a defensive coordinator. If outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen ends up getting the promotion to defensive coordinator, they would need to replace his current spot instead.
Obviously, the Titans defense will have a little different flavor in the coaching staff in 2020. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Vrabel has proven to be a good evaluator of coaching talent to this point in his head coaching career, and with the extremely limited amount of information that the public actually gets about the jobs these position coaches do day to day, I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.