To say Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel is downplaying his ties to the Patriots as he prepares his team to travel to his old workplace and take on New England in a wild-card playoff game Saturday is an understatement.
When the former Pats linebacker was asked about what the franchise's oft-mentioned, but not-so-well defined philosophy of "The Patriot Way" and what it meant to him, he quipped:
"Isn’t that the street the movie theater is on? I don’t know. I didn’t come up with it, so I don’t know."
That would be 24 Patriot Place, coach. Home of the Showcase Cinema de Lux.
The comment is funny, but also somewhat a throwback to Vrabel grousing about revenue from the mall built near Gillette Stadium when he was part of the NFL Players Association executive committee negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with the owners - including the Patriots' Robert Kraft - back in 2008.
Earlier this week, Vrabel said, “I haven’t had a paycheck with a Patriots logo on it since 2008. So, no different than going and coaching against someone with the Texans or coaching against them last year. It’s a huge challenge to go up there and try to win.”
While not getting sentimental, Vrabel did have a glowing assessment of his old team.
“They’re well-coached, a fundamentally sound football team, play with great technique, great effort,″ he said “They’re good tacklers on defense. The offensive line plays with great technique. There are very limited mistakes. It seems like all the players are in tune, they communicate well together. They’re good in critical situations.″
And of his former teammate still at quarterback for New England, Vrabel doesn't think Tom Brady has lost a lot at 42, two years younger than the Titans coach.
“I still see a lot of accuracy. I still see a lot of quick release, decisive throws,″ said Vrabel. “He’s been able to win a lot of football games, get the ball to a lot of different people to get everybody involved. He’s got an uncanny ability to find the guy that’s open, execute game plan plays.″