Mike Munchak was miscast as head coach

January, 4, 2014
Jan 4
2:54
PM ET


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Mike Munchak is an admirable, dignified and honest man. He’s been a loyal employee of the Oilers and Titans since 1982.

Munchak
But the Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive lineman is a position coach who was given the job as head coach of the Tennessee Titans because he was tight with late owner Bud Adams. He reveled in talking with Adams about the franchise’s history and glory days, and that was a big part of him getting the job. It was not because he showed some behind-the-scenes promise as a coach with no experience as a head coach or coordinator.

Now he's a former NFL head coach, fired by Adams' son-in-law, team president and CEO Tommy Smith, per a report from Chris Mortensen.

Munchak was fresh air at the start, talking about how he expected guys to know and do their jobs and preaching about how everyone on the team needed to “be a pro.”

But his team full of pros in his third season lost to a Houston team that won only twice, managed a loss to the 0-8 Jaguars and finished 7-9 after pledging a dramatic improvement following 2012’s 6-10 disaster.

This year’s team was better. It didn’t get blown out. It didn’t stop fighting. But it was not better enough.

Quarterback Jake Locker, who missed nine games this season because of injuries, has not established himself as a franchise player at the position. Munchak was fully on board with selecting Locker eighth overall in the 2011 draft.

Now a new coach will have a year to sort out what Locker is while Munchak is likely to wind up a highly coveted offensive line coach with multiple options to move to another team if he wants to. He could also be in play for the vacant head coaching job at his alma mater, Penn State.

While he maintained the respect of his players, Munchak and his staff were poor at adjusting to game circumstances that strayed from the initial plan.

In that regard he seemed like many very successful professional athletes who didn’t fare nearly as well when they became head coaches.

As an NFL offensive guard, he could formulate a plan and execute it because he was so good.

As an NFL coach he didn’t have anything close to the same advantage.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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