NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Mike Munchak won’t be fired Monday.
He will hold his season wrap-up news conference this afternoon and offer more of a defense of his three-year record, more rationale for deserving the fourth year of his four-year deal.
In the next few days, he will have a thorough meeting with team president and CEO Tommy Smith, spelling out what went wrong in a 7-9 season and his vision for what is next.
And Smith will make his first big decision since becoming head of the team’s ownership group after the death of his father-in-law, Bud Adams, in October.
I don’t know what will happen. But I do know a lot of what I’m hearing from readers is jumping to too many conclusions.
So let’s consider some popular questions pertaining to the process:
How can Smith not know what he wants to do?
He’s new at this. He doesn’t want to be rash. I find it hard to punch a hole in that. Munchak has been with the team 31 years. While he’s done a poor job getting results, he doesn’t have fractured relationships with management or players. If he’s fired, it won’t be out of anger. So taking a breath while sorting things through isn’t a bad thing. Smith wanted to allow the season to play out without getting in the middle of things. That’s a good move by someone in an ownership role. Sure, he’s thought about things. He probably has a leaning. But there is no rule that says he has to have is mind made up when the clock expired on the 16th game.
If he’s not firing him today, he’s not firing him.
I don’t know Tommy Smith, so I can’t make that assessment. Again, a patient, deliberate process is not a bad thing. The Redskins and Mike Shanahan were working toward a split for a long time. The Vikings’ disastrous season begged for change. The Browns made a surprising, fast move with Rob Chudzinski. The owners in those places have had long-term relationships with those coaches. Smith wasn’t in the room for any of the big conversations with Munchak as he became coach or while he’s been the coach. (And not every quick decision was a firing. Woody Johnson told the postgame Jets locker room Rex Ryan was staying.)
Didn’t a late divorce with Jeff Fisher create hiring issues?
It sure did. The split with Fisher didn’t happen until Jan. 27, 2011, and Munchak wasn’t hired until after the Super Bowl. That was late for a coach to get started on assembling a staff and it hurt the franchise. But a decision by Smith on Thursday, Jan. 2 or Friday, Jan. 3 shouldn’t put the Titans at some huge disadvantage against the other teams who are looking for head coaches and staffs.
General manager Ruston Webster will be influential here. What’s his thinking?
That’s not clear either. He said on The Midday 180 in Nashville on Friday that Munchak “has always had my support.” Like Munchak, Webster is no game player or power-monger. But that was not some big endorsement going forward. Webster is at the peak of his power and influence. He could vote to stick with a guy he has a good relationship with, where he is able to make the personnel decisions with his coach’s input. He could look at the assembled talent and say the results haven’t been good enough and he has ideas of guys who can get more out of these people.