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Mike Vrabel admits he was scared facing Titans QB Marcus Mariota

Mike Vrabel

As defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans last season, Mike Vrabel had to design plays that he hoped would limit Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota in the two games the Texans and the Titans met. Vrabel does not have to worry about stopping Mariota anymore, however, after being hired by the Titans as the team’s new head coach.

Looking back, Vrabel reminisced on the nightmares he had to go through ahead of matchups with Tennessee during his introductory press conference, per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk.

“We were scared to death,” Vrabel said of preparing to face Mariota. “He pulled a football on Jadeveon Clowney and ran 40 yards. Thank God he pulled his hamstring running 40 yards or that game wouldn’t have been what it was that day in Houston. He’s a special talent, a special kid, and I can’t wait to work with him and help him in the next stage of his career.”

Mike Vrabel and the Texans were successful in their first meeting with the Titans, demolishing Mariota and company in a 57-14 road win back in Week 4. Mariota was picked off twice in that game but had two rushing touchdowns before getting ruled out in the second half because of a hamstring injury. The Titans got their revenge several weeks later, when Mariota threw for 150 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 23 yards on three carries in a 24-13 win at home in Week 13.

As someone with a heavy defensive background, it will be interesting to see how Vrabel utilizes the dual-threat talents of Mariota beginning next season.