- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The question was about Jake Locker.
But in his wide-ranging answer, Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak outlined clearly what he believes will determine the fate of his team in his third year as its coach.
And it's far more than the third-year quarterback.
“We went out and we identified our problems on Jan. 1 of this year and we made the changes we felt necessary on the staff, we made changes with the personnel, we went out in the draft and did exactly what we thought we needed to do,” Munchak said. “So, we’ve done what we think is necessary to do. Now hopefully we’re right. We have to go prove that we’re right in what we did.”
What the Titans did is no more significant at any position than on the offensive line.
Veteran Andy Levitre is the new starting left guard. First-round draft pick Chance Warmack is the new starting right guard. Another draft pick, Brian Schwenke, could be the starting center. There will be big battles for the backup slots and the depth should be substantially better.
A team coached by a Hall of Fame offensive lineman, who’s got another Hall of Fame offensive lineman as his offensive-line coach in Bruce Matthews, is going to be identified by that group as much as or more than any other.
“I think we put them in position, which is our job, to where there’s no reason we shouldn’t play better -- all of us, not just the quarterback,” Munchak said. “I mean, it starts there on offense, obviously, that position, but up front (too). If we’re going to win, it’s going to be because our offensive line is a lot better than it was last year, and we’re physical, and we’re relentless, and we’re going to move people around on both sides of the ball. And if we do that, which we’re very capable of doing with the guys that we have, then we’re going to win a lot of football games. If we don’t do that, then it doesn’t matter.
“You can overcome things, which we will. But our mindset has to be that we take over games when they’re on the line. We’re not going to hope that we can make a play, hope that defense can get a stop. We’ll have some of those games, but we need to take over games better than we have. So, that’s the challenge for all of us and the players know that. They’re excited about that, and that’s the plan. That’s how we think you win and we know we need good play by a lot of players, and quarterbacks included.”
I think those are comments, and this is a post, that we might circle back to frequently this season.
The Tennessee franchise has lacked an identity the past several years. Its offseason work sought to create one. On the eve of today’s first practice of camp, Munchak spelled out what the Titans intend to be.
Now they have to go be it.
49mEric D. Williams