How does a manager get a subordinate to work to maximum potential? My college management classes would suggest the key to making people work productively is to instill confidence in them. Nobody produces less in a system than one who believes his work does not contribute to the whole; a lack of confidence can be detrimental to anybody in all aspects of life. In order to get the maximum potential of subordinates, a manager must take steps to show the workers they have a positive impact, even if it does sacrifice complete devotion to other parts of the process. Mike Vrabel, as a manager of the Titans, has made it a focal point to instill this confidence in his offense, which has struggled mightily over the course of this season (30th overall offense in NFL). Especially considering our depleted receiving core and its youth, Vrabel walks this thin line of making the right plays versus seeking out confidence-boosting plays. The epitome of this friction came to light on our failed 2-point conversion in yesterday’s loss to the Chargers. Vrabel continues to show the ambition so many of us yearned for over recent years, but the inability to balance this with common sense play-calling has made our head coach look a bit ignorant in crucial coaching moments.
First of all, the ambiguous decision to go for it can be ripped by anybody, but we all know damn well if we converted, those same people would be the ones cheering the loudest that we have the best coach in the league. How can we get mad with Vrabel for making the type of decisions we hired him to make. Tennessee’s Front Office made it clear to Vrabel they wanted a HC willing to take more risks, with the thinking that a more aggressive style would unleash the potential of Mariota. Well, our sputtering offense would suggest Mariota’s level of play has not risen yet, but undoubtedly everyone has sensed the willingness to take more risks. Vrabel has been making the gutsy calls we all want to see, it’s just nobody grasps the concept that taking more risks could mean ending up in positions that aren’t nominal.
My problem with Vrabel does not rest solely in the fact he went for the 2-point conversion Sunday morning. The issue I have rests with how he went about taking the risk. Just as a bit of general advice: don’t just make risky decisions for the sake of taking risks. In the context of this game, do not just go for the two points for the sake of being ballsy and looking like a hot shot. If Mike Vrabel makes the decision to go for it there, I want it to be because he had a play in mind he thought would work. One must be tactical with the risks they take. Throwing over the middle into coverage defense from the 2-yard line proves maybe the furthest thing from tactical. Historical evidence strongly suggests the pros of running it from such a short distance. It seems as if Vrabel denied this knowledge with the hope he could instill some confidence in this offensive unit. I’m sorry, but searching for a moral victory on the last play of a crucial game may be the biggest bonehead move one could make. Why would one not strive for the actual victory? If Mariota runs a keeper there, I’d say he would have had at least a 50/50 chance to score. I do not have the research on hand, but I think it’d be safe to assume the percentages are not as high for a pass from the 2-yard line. Hell, throw the ball, just don’t fucking throw it to Taywan Taylor. The young receiver has shown zero ability to catch a pass all season; Why the hell would he even be on the field? I think Henry, Lewis, and Mariota all in the same back field with an RPO would suffice for the points. The confusion of not knowing who would get the touch alone would keep the defense honest enough to get a score. I am unsure if these few last plays were drawn up by Vrabel or LaFleur, but regardless these two need to spend some serious time together these next two weeks in order to pull together a system that can get some damn points on the board. Stop running the ball every first and second down of the damn game, it’s literally the one thing Mularkey did that infuriated us all. Where are the dynamic schemes and flashy plays we were supposed to see? We all have some time to step away and take a breather, but my patience will start running thin if we continue this type of play in Dallas on MNF.
P.S. Vrabel, I just want you to sit on this for the next two weeks:
If you want to instill confidence in the players on this team, remember this a team sport. Go win games for the team first, and the confidence for every player will follow suit.
Photo Credit: The Tennessean