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Monday, December 31, 2012
Mike Munchak still has to sort out staff

By Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE -- Mike Munchak was assured by his boss that he’s staying in place for the 2013 season.

He’s not yet assured members of his staff whether they will be.

He said in five games offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains did well to remove some of the gray from a scheme Chris Palmer was running that may have kept Jake Locker and the offense “from playing fast.”

And asked about the future of defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, whose unit gave up a franchise record in points, Munchak quickly pointed out that the team ranked eighth in points allowed in 2011.

Mike Munchak
Mike Munchak will be back on the sideline for the Titans in 2013, but that may not be the case for all of his staff.
“A year ago he was eighth best, so I should have given him a bonus last year and fire him this year because he gave up the most?” Munchak said when I pressed him on Gray’s future. “We’re going to look at fixing what’s going on.”

“Were all those points the defense’s fault?” he asked.

“Most,” I said.

“Were they? You have a percentage for me? How many pick-sixes there were or how many the offense may have been responsible for? That’s what I’m asking. It’s not an excuse. Yeah, we can’t give up a lot of points. You’re not going to win a lot of games if you give up a lot of points. I’m not arguing the point.

“You don’t fire somebody just because their defense gave up a lot of points. You’ve got to look to see what’s wrong. And if it’s the coach, you’re going to make a change. If you feel that most of the problem is coming from the coach and you have a better answer because there is another coach here you feel is going to be better for your team, you’re going to make a change, than that’s what we’ll do if that’s what we feel is right. But we’re not just going to do it because we gave up 'X' amount of points.”

That doesn’t need to be the sole reason. (And let the record show the offense and special teams were responsible for eight touchdowns, 56 of the 471 points the Titans surrendered.)

But as Munchak said, the start of his tenure in this job was kind of backward. He hired Palmer when Rusty Smith was the only quarterback the Titans knew they were going to have on the roster and Palmer ultimately didn’t do well to craft an offense that best suited Locker.

Gray’s unit is lacking talent and leadership. It did improve late in the season. But it was shredded by good offenses all season long. Take away games where the offense or special teams gave up points and there were still efforts that yielded 38, 41, 30, 34 and 55 points.

Munchak hasn’t made up his mind yet. Did the defense of Gray suggest he's leaning toward keeping him? I don't know.

With the amount of coaching turnover around the league already, Munchak can reshape his staff and upgrade it significantly.

But Titans fans who think he’s going to add Norv Turner and Lovie Smith as new coordinators are surely going to be disappointed.

One other point of interest out of Munchak’s Monday press conference: On the very day he got a vote of confidence from Bud Adams, he also took a veiled shot at Adams for the second time in two days.

He said the Titans haven’t had a normal free agency in either of his two seasons. The first year the timing was altered by the lockout and last year “with the Manning thing limiting us.”

The Manning thing was an Adams-directed, failed pursuit of Peyton Manning, during which other potential targets signed elsewhere.

Tennessee didn’t bring in much beyond guard Steve Hutchinson and defensive end Kamerion Wimbley in 2012. But Munchak fully endorsed the addition of Hutchinson, and he didn’t have the big effect on the interior offensive line that was expected before he missed the final four games with a knee injury.