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Monday, January 14, 2013
Sorting through assistant coach firings

By Paul Kuharsky

We see an assistant coach fired and, if the move comes as a surprise, we tend to see fall guys, scapegoats, victims.

While the Jaguars are likely to have close to an entirely new staff under a yet-to-be-determined head coach, and while Marwan Maalouf is out as special teams coach in Indianapolis, the big AFC South turnover so far has come in Tennessee.

Mike Munchak fired Chris Palmer as his offensive coordinator with five games left in the season. Since the 6-10 campaign came to an end and Munchak got a vote of confidence from owner Bud Adams, Munchak has also parted ways with running backs coach Jim Skipper, tight ends coach John Zernhelt, linebackers coach Frank Bush and special teams coach Alan Lowry.

To reach many of you have said, “Yeah, that’ll fix it.”

We need to see not only who’s out, but who’s in to start to judge the moves.

I wasn’t a big fan of Bush, but as I wrote, his was one position where the Titans actually had an up arrow.

That doesn’t automatically mean he was doing a good job or that it was unfair to dismiss him.

After all, isn’t it possible Munchak evaluated the position and thought things could have been even better? Couldn't there have been something the group wasn’t doing that Bush wasn’t sufficiently correcting? Might he have developed philosophical differences that conflicted with his bosses?

I don’t know why he’s out.

But I do know Munchak is unlikely to have fired him on a whim. I do know that while there is a degree of covering one’s own behind with any move made on a staff, NFL coaches don’t make most moves lightly. After all, they were all position coaches once.

I do know that because of the way Munchak operates, we’re probably not going to get the real reason he parted ways with these guys, not in specifics. He’ll see no reason to advertise those publicly, even if many of us will jump to incorrect conclusions as a result.

I’ve never been in position to hire.

But I don’t think it’s very easy to put together a staff of 15 or so and hit on every one of them the first time. A coaching staff, as I’ve written before, is a sort of an evolving organism.

I suspect Titans fans would feel better about the guys who are gone if defensive coordinator Jerry Gray was with them. It’s not a certainty, yet, that Gray has survived this purge.

If he does, there is an inside reason for that, too, and it’s something more than loyalty.

In time maybe we’ll learn more about why Coach X stayed and Coach Y was cast aside.

In the meantime, let’s not simplify it to where if a position is good that means the position coach is good or vice versa.