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Titans offensive coordinator search: A list of candidates

Mike Vrabel is set to begin trying to find his next OC

Carolina Panthers Training Camp Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Mike Vrabel and the Tennessee Titans are currently searching for a new offensive coordinator after firing Todd Downing yesterday. Amy Adams Strunk said yesterday she is casting a wide net in her search for the Titans' next GM. Hopefully, Vrabel will do the same when searching for the next OC.

Below I have listed eight names that I hope are somewhere on Vrabel’s list. This is not an endorsement of anyone on the list. There are some I like more than others, but what I want more than anything is to have someone calling plays who has a modern version of an NFL offense, has a good feel for the game when it comes to play calling, and can make adjustments in-game when they are needed. Downing was 0-3 on that list.

There are going to be questions with anyone on the list. Anyone who is a sure-fire success as an NFL OC is either currently an NFL OC or currently an NFL head coach. The guys on this list have either been good as an OC with a really good QB or haven’t been an OC yet.

Here is a list of names I think/hope Vrabel will talk to:

Tim Kelly

This is the most obvious one of the bunch. Vrabel wanted to interview Kelly before he hired Downing. The Texans blocked the move at the time. Vrabel hired Kelly as the “Passing Game Coordinator” after Kelly was let go in Houston. He was the OC in Houston from 2019-2021. In 2020, Deshaun Watson led the league in passing yards (4,823), yards per attempt (8.9), and yards per completion (12.6). The biggest question with him is how responsible was he for the mess that we saw on the field in 2022.

Bill O’Brien

He makes the list because Vrabel worked for him in Houston from 2014-2017. They also overlapped in New England when O’Brien was a coach there and Vrabel was a player. O’Brien is currently the OC at Alabama. There has been a lot of talk that Nick Saban might go in a different direction but nothing has been done yet. O’Brien was the head coach of those teams where Kelly was the OC and his offense has been good pretty much everywhere he has been throughout his career.

Pep Hamilton

Hamilton is currently the Houston Texans' offensive coordinator. He was also interviewed by Vrabel before Downing was hired. Hamilton has been an OC once before in his career - with the Indianapolis Colts from 2013-2015. Andrew Luck was his quarterback during that time and led the NFL in passing touchdowns in 2014 with 40.

Joe Brady

Greenlaw’s favorite candidate on the list. Brady was the passing game coordinator for Joe Burrow at LSU in 2019. Burrow lit college football on fire that season. That year earned him the OC job for the Carolina Panthers in 2020. He was fired in 2021 reportedly for not running the ball enough. That makes him a tricky fit for Vrabel/Derrick Henry. He is currently the QB coach for the Buffalo Bills.

Kliff Kingsbury

Kingsbury was just fired by the Arizona Cardinals. In his four seasons as their head coach, he compiled a 28-37-1 record. They made the playoffs as a wild card in 2021 and lost in the first round. The best season on his resume is 2015 as the head coach at Texas Tech. Patrick Mahomes was his QB that season.

Wes Welker

Hiring Welker would require a leap of faith as he has never been a coordinator. The Vrabel connections are obvious - they played together in New England and coached together in Houston. The thing that intrigues me about Welker is the fact that he was the WR coach on Kyle Shanahan’s staff in San Francisco for two years and was the WR coach for Mike McDaniels in Miami this past season. Those are two good offensive minds to coach under.

Thomas Brown

Brown has been on Sean McVay’s staff with the Los Angeles Rams since 2020. He started out as the RB coach in 2020 but was promoted to RB coach and Assistant Head Coach in 2021. He was the TE coach and Assistant Head Coach in 2021. He also returned at kickoff 99-yards for a touchdown against the Tennessee Volunteers when he played for Georgia. That makes him a top-shelf candidate in my book!

Brian Johnson

Johnson is currently the QB coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. Jalen Hurts obviously made a big leap forward this year with Johnson as his position coach. He had been a career college coach before joining the Eagles’ staff this year. He was the offensive coordinator for Dan Mullen at Florida in 2020.