If anyone doubted that coach Mike Munchak and defensive coordinator Jerry Gray were serious about improving the Tennessee Titans’ pass rush, they got a definitive answer Monday.
Munchak announced two additions to his staff, including three-time All-Pro defensive tackle Keith Millard who was appointed to the newly created position of defensive assistant/pass rush specialist. Also added was former Houston Oilers cornerback Steve Brown.
“We are bringing Keith in to help all of our players with their pass rush skills, whether that is the d-line, Akeem Ayers and the linebackers or even the defensive backs,” Munchak said in a statement announcing the moves. “His position is actually one that I considered for the staff when I took over last year, but the timing didn’t allow for it.”
The Titans could have used it.
Tennessee finished last in the AFC in 2011 with 28 sacks, its lowest total in five seasons. Only the NFC’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where Millard was the co-defensive line coach last season, had fewer (23).
Rookie defensive tackle Karl Klug had a team-high seven. No one else had more than four.
Millard was the 1989 NFL Defensive Player of the Year when he set a league record for sacks by a defensive tackle with 18. In eight NFL seasons – the majority of them with the Minnesota Vikings – had recorded 58 sacks.
“Keith brings a great deal of energy and passion in addition to a great demeanor,” Munchak said. “Unfortunately, I can personally attest to his ability as a player, but he also has the rare ability to teach the game within the game and the art of the pass rush.”
Prior to Tampa Bay, Millard spent four seasons each as an assistant with Oakland and Denver. He was an assistant defensive line coach/pass rush specialist with the Broncos.
“I was really impressed in my conversations with [Munchak],” Millard said. “He has had a great deal of success as a player and a coach and I agree with his principles of tradition, discipline, hard work and dedication. I became a student of pass rushers during my time in college and carried that through my NFL career.
“Now as a coach, I use those same skills to teach the players how to build on their own attributes.”
Brown was an assistant with the St. Louis Rams for six seasons, including 1999 when they defeated the Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. Most recently, he was co-defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach at the University of Kentucky.
He replaces Curtis Fuller, who was fired following the season, and will work with recently hired secondary coach Brett Maxie.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for [Munchak] and the Titans organization, which was the organization that I was brought up in,” Brown said. “I am looking forward to being back home and working with a number of ex-teammates to create something special.”
Brown was a third-round draft pick by the Oilers in 1983 and spent his entire eight-year career with them. He intercepted 18 passes in 118 career games.
“Steve is a guy that I played with, coached against and really respect as a coach,” Munchak said. “He will be a great fit with [Maxie] and I think they will complement each other well. Steve has a certain edge to him that I think will add to that room and bring out the best in our guys.”