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Regarding Fisher, Munchak walks tightrope

2/9/2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Mike Munchak faced a difficult balancing act in his first news conference as Titans coach.

He surely wanted to differentiate himself from Jeff Fisher, the coach and longtime boss he’s replacing, but he couldn’t appear to be throwing him under the bus.

I thought he walked the tightrope well.

He praised Fisher for his adaptability and willingness to change as he needed to, and said he hoped to be able to adjust in the same ways. He plans to not be too stuck in his ways, he said.

But when I asked him about two major Fisher issues/things he could never admit were problems -- his stance that the Titans were not undisciplined and were sufficiently accountable -- Munchak didn’t embrace Fisher’s traditional coachspeak.

"Like I said, changes need to be made,” he said. “Obviously some things were not going right.”

He said he was never chasing a promotion. But he’s a smart guy who clearly had his own thoughts on things as they arose, though his position as an assistant didn’t allow for him to share most of them.

“In the back of my mind, yes, I was saying sometimes, ‘Well, if I was the head coach, I’d do this’ or ‘If I was the head coach, I’d do that,’” he said. “I wasn’t going to say it publicly. But yeah, I definitely knew what I would do. I’ve been around enough, I’ve been around good coaches. I think I’d take a little bit from everybody I’ve been around and you’ll start seeing that applied around here real soon.”

Separately he said: “There are going to be things I think I can act immediately on that need to be changed.”

The new Titans coach also talked of Penn State’s Joe Paterno, his college coach, as his biggest coaching influence, steering away from Fisher there.

As far as Munchak’s philosophy, he summed it up in his opening statements, offering a three-pronged approach:

  1. Give direction by laying out a plan regarding the expectations for everyone.

  2. Manage people while being hands-on and involved, keeping them on the tasks at hand and solving problems before they become bigger issues.

  3. Get out of the way and let people and players do their jobs.

“My philosophy is simple: no matter what your job is in this organization, be a pro,” he said. “Know what to do and do it. No excuses. No whining. Just do it.”