NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It’s been reported in this space that Mike Munchak is heading toward lame duck status.
I owe him, and you, an apology.
The contract Munchak signed with the Tennessee Titans when he took over for Jeff Fisher in 2010 was for four years, not three, he said Thursday. He’s signed through the 2014 season.
That certainly changes the dynamic I’ve written about for the future of the coach, his staff and potential new hires.
I’d said with a year left, which the idea of putting him in a lame duck year might sound just fine, it would handcuff him in terms of being able to hire better assistants.
Good coaches would not join a staff that might be blown up in a year. So, I concluded, if owner Bud Adams was going to stick with Munchak, the only way to give him a real chance to succeed would actually be to give him an extension.
With two years left, he won’t be getting an extension after this season, which the Titans could finish 7-9 at best. I also think it makes him harder to fire.
I don’t suspect Adams will eat two remaining years for Munchak, a favorite son who’s been with the franchise as a player or coach for every year since 1982. Still, he's not making big dollars and a bad showing in these final three games could prompt the owner to make big changes.
If Munchak is kept on, he will have a better chance of upgrading some of his staff than I thought. A two-year deal is not nearly as hard to accept as a one-year deal when you're talking about relocating your family and looking for some security. Join the staff, do the good work you think you can do, and you’d expect the whole staff would be in line for extensions in a year. If you're a pessimist, you think it could blow up with a bad season, but you'd still get paid for two.
I didn’t talk with Munchak about all that today. Like any coach, he’s focused on his next game, not potential postseason staff revisions.
But I did ask him how many years he had left. And when he said two, I apologized for my misreporting and said I’d set about correcting myself.
“The business side got done in, I don’t know, a matter of 10 minutes,” Munchak said of the contract part of taking the job. “I figured it was their way of saying, ‘Hey, we think this is going to work. We knew we didn’t have a quarterback on the roster, we knew that we were about to go through a lockout, we knew there were a lot of things we were about to face when you had a change in coaches. I don’t think there was much of a thought of why four or why three. It was more of, we’re confident we’re doing the right thing and that was a way of them saying we’ll be really happy where it is after four years.
“I think that we’re heading the right direction. I think we’re doing things the way they need to be done. Four and nine is not what we wanted. I don’t think people expected 9-7 last year. I think you look at both and say let’s see how it all shakes out. Is there a better answer, to do something different? I don’t think so. To keep changing things every year and a half is not a good idea. We’re going to make some good changes in the offseason, we’re going to have another good draft, a third good draft, and this thing will be a lot different a year from now.”