The Tennessee Titans have a lot of reasons to win, head coach Mike Vrabel told reporters Tuesday.
At 5-11, the Titans are on the precipice of their second losing season under Vrabel. They're about to finish dead last in the division while the Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans — all 9-7 — fight for first place in the final week of the season.
As of this writing, the Titans own the seventh pick in the draft and have the second-worst record in the AFC. And even with "nothing to play for," Tennessee, Vrabel said, has everything to play for against the Jaguars on Sunday.
Keeping in mind all of the aforementioned facts regarding the Titans' season, Tennessean columnist Gentry Estes asked Vrabel to shed light on what those reasons were.
“Because it sucks to lose, Gentry,” Vrabel said via WSMV's Chris Harris. “Did you have another thought? I’m just curious. It f***ing sucks — losing. Awful. That’s why I want to win.
“Because you don’t sleep. You want to win for the players that bust their tail — that’s it. I mean, it’s not about, ‘Hey, we’ll go into the offseason with a good note.’ Nobody knows what you did on January 7, or 8, or 6 in April when you come back [for the offseason program.] But, you want to see it all come together. Just put four quarters together, win a game like we talked about.”
Losing is simply not in Vrabel's DNA. Not when he was a linebacker for the New England Patriots. And mostly, not when he has coached the Titans.
Since Vrabel took over in 2018, Tennessee went to the playoffs three consecutive years from 2019 to 2021 and finished as the AFC South champion back-to-back years in 2020 and 2021.
From his answer, one can derive that losing goes against the basic fabric of Vrabel's fiber.
Sports, at the most basic level, are about one team being better than the other. Teams don't go into a season playing for the next draft or free agent class. They play for the here and now and to objectively say, "On this day, we were the better team."
Coaches, front office executives and owners, many of them, desperately want to win. It's not something they tire of. All those hours, days and months they pour into this, the very minimum expected is to give effort and to want to win.
But losing? It is absolutely deflating — look no further than the Detroit Pistons. And that's what this season was — frustrating, tiresome and deflating — Vrabel told reporters. The only thing he wants to start this new year is for the Titans to play to the level he believes his players can and to want to win for themselves and everything they've sacrificed to be at this point.
"I think that’s why,” Vrabel said. "Just put yourself in a competitive situation. Come up with a way to make a play in the second half to win the game. That’s what I hope for.
“Sorry about my language.”