One of the most positive stories that came out of last season’s disappointing campaign was the emergence of the young Andy Studebaker. On KCChiefs.com this morning, Josh Looney talks about Mike Vrabel’s role as a sort of player/coach that has had a huge role in helping Studebaker.
“The more that you talk, the more that you can give someone a subtle reminder as to what their job is,” OLB Andy Studebaker said. “It enables everybody to play faster. When you can play fast and be in the right place, great things are going to happen.”
An unrestricted free agent to be, Vrabel agreed to a contract extension in Kansas City shortly before the gates of free agency opened.
For most, another year of Vrabel pointed to increased mentoring for one of the Chiefs most promising developmental players – Andy Studebaker.
In his first year playing the outside linebacker position, Studebaker saw limited action behind Vrabel. But when Vrabel suffered a mid-season knee injury, it became Studebaker’s time to shine…and shine he did with two INT returns for TDs vs. Pittsburgh.
Before the game, exactly what we could expect was up to debate, but after Studebaker’s breakout showing his name was immediately thrust into the mix as a future defensive difference maker. The general assumption was that Studebaker was still raw and just needed a bit more fine-tuning from someone like Vrabel.
You will get old in a hurry in this league if you have too many mentor-type players (we saw that first hand here in Kansas City) but it never hurts to have a couple on each side of the ball to help the coaches day in and day out. Vrabel has more than earned his keep, not just by being a rock on the field, but also helping Studebaker, Tamba Hali and the rest of the linebackers learn the Chiefs new defense.
Seeing the impact that Vrabel has had is one of the reasons I wanted the Chiefs to bring Trent Green back to town. A few weeks ago there were some rumblings that Green almost joined the Bears as a Vrabel-like player/coach and it seemed like the perfect time to try and bring him to Kansas City as a coach. He’s close enough to his playing days that he could be able to relate to the Chiefs quarterbacks in a way the current coaches couldn’t.