Thursday, January 2, 2014
Changes that may pull Munchak from limbo
By Paul Kuharsky
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Per Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, Titans coach Mike Munchak is "still in limbo."
"Discussions continue in-house, but no decision made and could still go either way," Wyatt tweeted before suggesting that Munchak will have to be willing to make changes on his staff in order to stay.
A contract extension is not in play, per Wyatt. That makes staff changes difficult. It's easy to boot someone. It's not as easy to replace him as a lame-duck coach, which is what Munchak will be. He'll only be able to offer one-year deals to new staff members, unless he can give them deals longer than his own.
Who might general manger Ruston Webster and/or president and CEO Tommy Smith believe should go?
I agree with Wyatt that one easy upgrade would be to allow the only defensive coordinator Munchak has had, Jerry Gray, to go. Gray's contract is up and Munchak has preached accountability but seems to have held Gray to a different standard. If senior assistant/defense Gregg Williams, who also has an expiring contract, would take a one-year deal and a promotion to coordinator that should be the move.
The linebackers and special teams units were among the team's worst in the team's 7-9 season.
Linebackers coach Chet Parlavecchio is a high-energy guy and a good teacher. But his linebackers didn't produce.
Like Parlavecchio, special teams coach Nate Kaczor was just elevated to his post after the 2012 season. His group settled down after Leon Washington fell into the team's lap. But decisions before that with returners Darius Reynaud and Devon Wylie were poor.
Another group that did not play the way the team projected it to was the offensive line. Munchak and offensive line coach Bruce Matthews are fellow Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive linemen and the closest of friends. Matthews moved to Nashville to take over Munchak's old position when Munchak got the top job in 2011. Munchak is an Oilers/Titans institution, but so is Matthews.
Matthews and Parlavecchio easily rate as Munchak's two closest friends on the staff.
I am sure Munchak would fight hard for those three or any other assistant he feels may be put in a scapegoat role.
Munchak made changes to his staff, to his lineup and to some policies in advance of this season saying if he was going to go down, he wanted to go down his way.
With a year left on his contract, if he wants to stay in place he may have to be willing to go down in 2014 with something that rates as a bit less than his way if Webster and/or Smith force change.
Or, that change may include more than a few assistants. It may include Munchak himself.