AFC South: Dowel Loggains

Mike Munchak's staff cuts are growing increasingly surprising.

Special teams were up and down this year, but the ups didn’t count for enough.

Alan Lowry, who penned the franchise’s most famous play, the Music City Miracle kickoff return that beat Buffalo in a 1999 playoff game, is out, reports Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

“It’s been a great run for me,” Lowry told Wyatt. “I’ve enjoyed my time with the Titans. To me, it wasn’t about production on the field.”

Among coaches who ran meeting rooms, Lowry was the longest tenured coach with the team. He joined the Oilers in 1996. (Strength and conditioning coach Steve Watterson’s been with the franchise since 1986.)

That’s four assistants out since the season so far for Munchak -- running back coach Jim Skipper, tight end coach John Zernhelt, linebacker coach Frank Bush and Lowry.

Munchak has those four spots plus quarterback coach position to fill. Dowell Loggains was promoted from quarterback coach to coordinator with five games left when offensive coordinator Chris Palmer was fired. Indications are Loggains will remain in the coordinator role.

No names of potential incomers have surfaced yet except for John Shoop, who interviewed for the quarterback coach job.

Munchak got a vote of confidence from owner Bud Adams the day after a 6-10 regular season ended. He has two years left on the deal he signed when he replaced Jeff Fisher in 2011. That transition came late and he didn’t necessarily get to shop for assistants while the market was at its peak.

There are plenty of possibilities out there for him now.

We need to see who comes in to have a fuller feel for what Munchak is doing, and I'm not certain he's done showing people the door.

I always remember talking with a coach in his first couple years who said one of the best pieces of advice he got from a veteran mentor was not to think of his initial staff as anything close to permanent. While loyalty is important, it is trumped by performance and working relationships, and the odds of everyone proving to be the fit a coach needs on his staff are small. As a team evolves, staff needs can change.

Munchak is very likely heading toward a season where he needs to make the playoffs or be fired.

Significant turnover on the staff clearly is part of what he’s expecting to help improve the Titans’ fortunes.

Final Word: AFC South

November, 30, 2012
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 13:

Big-play potential: The Colts' game in Detroit features the NFL’s top two players in receiving yards. The Lions' Calvin Johnson (1,257) and Indianapolis’ Reggie Wayne (1,105) are the primary guys in their respective offenses. Since Johnson entered the league in 2007, they are also both in the top three in the NFL in receiving yards, with Wayne second and Johnson third behind No. 1 Roddy White. We can expect both receivers to get chances downfield. Per ESPN Stats & Info, Andrew Luck has thrown 125 passes this season that have traveled at least 15 yards downfield, the most in the league. Matthew Stafford is second with 106 such attempts. Pass defense will be an issue on both sides at Ford Field. Neither team features cornerbacks of the caliber of those receivers, which means quality pass-rushing will be extra important.

[+] EnlargeWade Phillips
AP Photo/David J. PhillipHouston defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will match wits against Tennessee's Dowell Loggains, who will be calling plays for the first time.
Rematch: The Texans defeated the Titans 38-14 in Week 4. Houston is seeking a season sweep of the Titans for the second time in its history and first time since 2004. Jake Locker suffered a shoulder injury early in that game when an unblocked, blitzing Glover Quin drove Locker's nonthrowing shoulder into the ground. The big story is the coordinator matchup when the Titans have the ball. Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is one of the best in the business, and he will be trying to outfox Dowell Loggains, the Titans' new offensive coordinator who will be calling his first game. The Texans have allowed more than 30 points in back-to-back games after allowing that many just once in their first nine games.

Streaking with Henne? The Jaguars seek back-to-back wins for the first time since Weeks 13 and 14 of the 2010 season. In the past two games with Chad Henne doing most of the quarterbacking, the Jaguars have jumped from 14.1 points per game to 30.5, and from 263.6 yards per game to 389.5. Rookie receiver Justin Blackmon has been a big part of that, with more receiving yards in Weeks 11 and 12 (298) than he had in the first 10 games (250). But Blackmon and the team’s other top receiver, Cecil Shorts, didn’t practice Thursday because of leg injuries; their status for Sunday’s game in Buffalo is in doubt.

Heading for 1,000: Chris Johnson needs 58 rushing yards for his fifth consecutive 1,000-yard season to start his career. He would become the eighth player in NFL history to accomplish that, joining Curtis Martin and Barry Sanders (who did it for 10 consecutive seasons). The others were LaDainian Tomlinson (eight), Eric Dickerson (seven), Corey Dillon (six), Tony Dorsett and Eddie George (five each). In Johnson’s past six games, he has averaged 6.2 yards per carry and broken off 17 10-yard runs.

Also: Andre Johnson's 461 receiving yards in his past two games are the most in consecutive games in league history, per Elias Sports Bureau. With a 152-yard day, he would post the best three-game stretch ever, passing Charley Hennigan’s 612 yards for the Oilers in 1961. Johnson has been the Texans’ targeted receiver on 40.7 percent of the team’s play-action passes the past two games. Before that, he was the target on just 22.4 percent. … The Bills have been outscored by 72 points in the second half. … With a victory, Luck would become the first rookie quarterback selected No. 1 overall in the common draft era to win eight games. … The Titans rank 31st in points allowed (30.5 per game) and the Texans rank second in scoring (29.7). … Arian Foster has six consecutive 100-yard games on the road. He has scored a touchdown in every game but one.