“I knew when I was with Vrabel in Houston, I was second-team All-Pro and three Pro Bowls. I said to myself, ‘I think I can do that here in this system that worked so well.’ Mike Vrabel is one of the smartest coaches I ever had,” Clowney said during his first media availability since signing with the Titans.
“He knows football and how to put guys in position to make plays. That’s what he did in Houston and when I got here. He is already lining me all over the place, and I get to keep making plays. He believes that I am a playmaker. With Mike Vrabel, I made way more plays [than] I did when I was in Seattle.”
Clowney pointed to his athletic ability and being able to match up against anyone as a reason he recorded 9.5 sacks, 18 quarterback hits and 21 tackles for loss in 2017 when Vrabel was calling the shots for the Texans’ defense — all career highs.
Vrabel said Thursday that he knew the Titans had the inside track on signing the prized free agent.
“Not much of a sales pitch. We’re just looking for guys that want to be here,” Vrabel said when asked about courting Clowney.
The Titans’ defense has a lot of carryover from what Clowney did in Houston, where he spent five years before being traded last year to the Seahawks. Knowing he’d catch on fast, Clowney decided on Tennessee, which opens the season on Monday Night Football. The Titans expect the 27-year-old to be on the field making plays even though he wasn’t around for training camp.
There were other suitors, such as the New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks. Plenty of players reached out to Clowney to say they wanted him to be a part of their defense. Before signing with Tennessee, Clowney made a phone call to fellow former South Carolina and Texans teammate Johnathan Joseph, who is now with the Titans. Joseph’s input helped seal the deal after he shared how he observed the players flying around the field.
“If I know one thing about Mike Vrabel, whatever team he has, he’s going to make sure they play hard and fly to the ball. I need to be a part of something like that at this stage in my career,” Clowney said.