Despite three playoff appearances and AFC South titles over six years with the Tennessee Titans, Mike Vrabel was dismissed by team owner Amy Adams Strunk in one of the more surprising moves of the 2024 NFL coaching carousel. 

If not for Vrabel’s former coach Bill Belichick, who failed to land another head-coaching job after mutually parting ways with the New England Patriots, Vrabel not ending up as a head coach somewhere else would likely be seen as the most surprising development of this offseason so far.

In explaining why the 48-year-old Vrabel will not be a head coach next season, one report claims the former NFL linebacker’s size played a factor. According to The Athletic NFL insider Dianna Russini, a general manager at the recent Senior Bowl scouting exhibition told her that Vrabel’s size could intimidate other executives in an NFL organization.

Russini said she initially laughed at the notion, but the general manager went on to say that physical presence can make a difference during discussions about team matters. Vrabel is listed at 6-foot-4, 261 lbs from his playing days on Pro Football Reference.

However, Russini said the main reason Vrabel is still currently out of a job is much simpler than his size.

“I don’t think there was a fit for him,” Russini said. “I don’t think he sat in front of any owner who thought that his style was going to work for what they were looking for.”

Despite the seeming absurdity that Vrabel’s physical stature may be working against him, Colin Cowherd thinks there is some validity to the claim.

“Size matters,” Cowherd said on Tuesday’s edition of “The Herd.” “Mike Vrabel, even if he was 5-foot-6, would be somewhat intimidating. He’s a tough guy. He’s kind of intense looking.”

But Cowherd believes that Vrabel’s intensity and intimidation factor should work in his favor, not against him. Cowherd says that the coaches he ranks among the NFL’s toughest, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ Mike Tomlin, Detroit Lions‘ Dan Campbell and Los Angeles Chargers‘ Jim Harbaugh are all successful because they win the respect of their players and impart that intensity to their teams.

“I do think [with] their size and physicality, it’s easier for them to relate to some players, and those coaches’ teams are all known as physical and tough,” Cowherd said. “They have an alpha, it bleeds to the team.

Mike Vrabel’s ‘physical build’ reportedly a factor in not landing HC job | The Herd

“I think this is NFL teams losing sight of Vrabel’s greatest gift, and that is communication. [Former Alabama coach] Nick Saban is 5-foot-7 and a half. Intimidating, and great communicator. [Miami Dolphins coach] Mike McDaniel, 5-foot 9. Great communicator. [Los Angeles Rams coach] Sean McVay, 5-foot-10. Great communicator. Dan Campbell, 6-foot-5, built like a house. Great communicator. That’s what this sport is. And big men sometimes are better communicators because players connect with them.”

Cowherd also praised Vrabel’s intelligence and said both he and Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, another top head-coaching candidate who did not land a job this cycle, were both unwilling to seriously consider head-coaching jobs besides the Chargers gig they lost out to Harbaugh on because L.A. already has a star quarterback in place in Justin Herbert.

Next year, Cowherd said, could be different with several high-profile teams featuring incumbent quarterbacks possibly having job openings such as the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles — and Cowherd believes Vrabel, not Belichick, may be the best coach available in that cycle next year because of his relative willingness to collaborate.

“But if a GM is worried about being intimidated [by Vrabel], it’s probably a team you don’t want to work for,” Cowherd said.

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