Munchak's philosophy to reveal itself in staff selections

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at 9:17pm

It became apparent Tuesday that Mike Munchak does not plan to maintain the status quo as Tennessee Titans coach.

His decision to fire offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger and two others was the first clear-cut piece of evidence he does not intend to follow in Jeff Fisher’s footsteps even as he fills Fisher’s shoes.

That decision meant that Munchak would begin his tenure with coordinators of his own choosing. He inherited an opening at defensive coordinator because Chuck Cecil was fired a week before Fisher’s departure.

Munchak said his philosophies in regard to schemes and approach will be equally obvious in the choices he makes to fill those openings.

“Obviously there’s going to be different chemistry in this building, and that will create change with the coaching changes we’re going to make,” Munchak said. “…  I think it’s something you’ll see as we go. I think, as you see it, you’ll go, ‘Oh, that’s what they’re doing there.’  Or we brought this guy in, we signed so and so as this position coach, ‘OK, I can see what they’re doing there.’”

“It’s going to be a journey, and right now, it’s all there. It’s just now putting the pieces together.”

Or removing them, as he did with Heimerdinger and offensive quality control coach Richie Wessman and defensive quality control coach Rayna Stewart. Wessman and Stewart had been in their respective roles for the past two seasons.

Heimerdinger was the Titans’ offensive coordinator from 2000-04 and again the last three seasons. When Fisher re-hired him in 2008, he called Heimerdinger “the best play-caller I’ve ever worked with.”

Munchak, the offensive line coach all that time, apparently saw things differently.

“[Munchak] wants to go in a different direction, and as the head coach of the team, it’s his prerogative to do that,” Heimerdinger said. “It’s disappointing that I can’t see things through, which I would have liked to have been able to do.

“Mike needs to do things his own way.”

The decision to part with Heimerdinger does not offer immediate insight into Munchak’s approach.

In his first stint with the Titans, Heimerdinger’s offense, with quarterbacks Steve McNair and Billy Volek, finished among the league’s top 10 in passing three times. The last three years, with running backs Chris Johnson and (for a time) LenDale White, twice finished among the top 10 in rushing.

“[Heimerdinger] is an innovative offensive mind and we have worked well through the years, but I believe we need to go in a different direction at offensive coordinator,” Munchak said. “…These are not easy decisions, but I have a responsibility to move things in the direction that I have laid out for this team.

“We will continue to evaluate the rest of the staff moving forward.”

At this point, Munchak’s staff will have at least eight new faces, including the offensive line coach he hires to replace himself. It seems likely that will be Bruce Matthews, the Oilers/Titans Hall of Fame offensive lineman and one of Munchak’s closest friends.

Matthews was an offensive assistant with Houston the past two seasons and he recently agreed to a new two-year contract with the Texans. According to a report out of Houston, however, Matthews never signed that contract, which makes it possible for the Titans to talk to him.

“I think chemistry is a huge part — to me — of us being successful,” Munchak said. “You want the players to see what we’re doing. You want the players to see on the sidelines how the coaches are acting, how we’re interacting, because that’s how they’re going to act.

“So I want a staff that fits. There’s going to be certain things that I’m looking for in a coach. [There is] a lot of work ahead of me and everybody else here. It’s not just all me.  I’m going to have a lot of help doing it, making the right decisions. I’m looking forward to building it.”

10 Comments on this post:

By: dargent7 on 2/9/11 at 5:25

This guy's a tough one. He fires you even if you have cancer.
Think he's afraid of going for it, down by 10, on 4th down, and need 5yds.?

By: TITAN1 on 2/9/11 at 5:46

When Fisher was fired, I was one who wanted a big name thinking we needed that spark of excitement, but after hearing more about 'Munch' and seeing him make changes right away I like what I see and here. He seems to know what he wants and doesn't hesitate to do it. If he gets the people he wants on his staff I think this can lead to great things. I am looking forward to the future of this franchise more than ever.

By: WickedTribe on 2/9/11 at 6:45

I'm impressed by Munchak so far. I was really worried since, as offensive line coach, he was involved in the Titans disastrous offense.

But since he's fired Heimerdinger, it appears that Munchak is aware of the problems with the team and may be able to address them.

I'm cautiously optimistic now.

By: Alphadog7 on 2/9/11 at 8:31

Munchak has Paterno's home number on speed dial. What more could you want? :-)

By: TITAN1 on 2/9/11 at 8:55

Looks like he has learned from one of the best.

By: pswindle on 2/9/11 at 9:09

He is not making himself likable.

By: dargent7 on 2/9/11 at 9:23

"Likable"? Who cares if people like him?
Everyone always said Jeff Fisher was a "nice guy".
So, what? Go head a Nashville bowling team.
You, as a head coach, have to WIN.
At least above a .500%.
Read up on Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry, then get back to this board.

By: Nitzche on 2/9/11 at 9:44

where is the sexual orientation of these people? what kind of journalist are you? you were quick to jump on the Belmont soccer coach bandwagon? so, dig deep, and find out these people's sexual orientation!... of course everybody needs and wants to know!

By: jwk6179 on 2/9/11 at 10:42

I like the fact that he building his own staff instead relying on the leftovers from Jeff Fisher's staff. That way, if he is a successful head coach, he did it with his staff, not Jeff Fisher's staff. And if he is not a successful head coach, it was his staff that failed him, not Jeff Fisher's staff.

By: wayneCaluger on 2/9/11 at 4:09

Report: Matthews named Titans O-line coach

Bruce Matthews has been named the Titans' new offensive line coach, according to TitanInsider.

Matthews is a Hall of Fame offensive lineman who played alongside new Tennessee head coach Mike Munchak with the Oilers/Titans for roughly half his career, which spanned from 1983-2001.

He broke into NFL coaching in '09 as an offensive assistant with the Texans. He had previously agreed to a deal to return to Houston in 2011 but had not yet signed a contract.

Matthews and Munchak are close friends who presented each other into the Hall of Fame. As the offensive line coach, Matthews may have a chance to coach his son, Kevin, who is a center for the Titans.