Julio Jones is attacked by new Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel for “dumbing S *** that hurts the team” in Week 1 loss
When Julio Jones left the Atlanta Falcons to go to the Tennessee Titans this offseason, the veteran wide receiver likely had visions of big games, big wins and good times with his new franchise. His first game in Nashville was anything but those things. It was a searing loss to the Arizona Cardinals that saw Jones get a 15-yard penalty for which his coach, Mike Vrabel, crushed him in the media the next day.
Needless to say, it wasn’t a good start for the veteran star with his new franchise.
New Tennessee Titans star receiver Julio Jones’ debut didn’t go well
Julio Jones was the No. 6 pick in the 2011 Atlanta Falcons Draft. Former Alabama wide receiver Crimson Tide played 10 seasons in Atlanta.
During his run with the team, Jones made the playoffs four times, including the 2016 Super Bowl, where the New England Patriots overcame a 28-3 deficit in the third quarter to shock Jones and the Falcons.
Individually, Jones has been very successful. He made seven Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams. The wide receiver led the league in receptions once (2015), receiving yards twice (2015, 2018) and yards per game three times (2015, 2016, 2018). In total, he caught 848 balls for 12,925 yards and 60 touchdowns in Atlanta.
After a 4-12 season in 2020, Jones asked to leave his ten-year-old home and the team traded him (along with a sixth-round pick in 2023) to the Tennessee Titans for a second in 2022 and a fourth in 2023.
Now, with the 2020 AFC South champions, Jones is likely expecting big things from the team this year. However, Jones’ debut for his new team did not go well.
The 32-year-old finished the game with just three catches on six targets for 29 yards. The team as a whole also performed poorly, falling to the Arizona Cardinals 38-13.
Perhaps the biggest problem was a personal foul penalty the receiver received during a first-half scuffle with Arizona defensive back Byron Murphy.
The day after the loss, Titans coach Mike Vrabel shared his feelings about the play.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel called out Julio Jones at a press conference
The game was 10-0 Cardinals when Jones’ penalty kick occurred. It happened after a nice second run from Derrick Henry that would have resulted in a 3rd and 1. Instead, he became a 3rd and 15, and the Titans kicked a game later.
Kyler Murray and the Cardinals outscored the Titans 28-13 from that point on, but if the game went down to 10-3 or 10-7 on that stunted Tennessee run, who knows what could have happened.
Mike Vrabel must have had similar thoughts when he stepped onto the podium on Monday because, when asked about the foul, the former NFL linebacker let his new star have him:
It is absolutely nothing that we train or teach. So that would fall into the category of nonsense that hurts the team. There, in bold type.
Mike Vrabel on Julio Jones’ penalty
This Vrabel explosion is surprising for several reasons. Although he has always been an outspoken coach, crushing his own players is not something he usually does. It’s even more unexpected as he made it to a new star player.
And, when you consider who Vrabel has played with in his career, that makes it even more shocking.
Vrabel explained his way of coaching players which is different from his mentors’ method
Bill Cowher and the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Vrabel in the third round of the 2007 draft. He was a rotating linebacker at Steel City for the first four years of his career, then joined the New England Patriots, where he became All- Pro edited by Bill Belichick. Vrabel then followed Pats executive Scott Pioli to Kansas City for his final two seasons.
While playing for volatile Todd Haley on his last stop, Vrabel has spent most of his career with Cowher and Belichick, two coaches who played him close to the vest.
The Titans coach may have thought back to these two mentors and how they did things after his comments as he accompanied them the next day. He told reporters:
[I’ve never said] whatever you have in front of you, those cameras or that microphone that I haven’t told the players. I hope not. It is never my intention. They heard it from me long before I came here. And it was just that specific room. It will be someone else next time.
Mike Vrabel on his comments of Julio Jones
Julio Jones was never a true diva catcher, but he surely didn’t sign up to get noticed and crushed by his new coach. That’s probably not a problem now, but if the losses start to pile up (which they could against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2), the Jones / Vrabel dynamic could be something to watch out for.
All statistics are courtesy of Professional football benchmark
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