Mike Munchak figures he probably will make a few mistakes between now and Sept. 11, the day the Tennessee Titans are scheduled to open the season.
Yet make no mistake, the first-year head coach says, his team will be prepared to play the Jacksonville Jaguars on that day.
“Are we going to be ready to play at Jacksonville?” he told The City Paper on Wednesday. “Well, sure we are. Of course we are. Will I be sitting here saying, ‘Well, if only we had more time in the offseason’? No.
“We're going to have as much time as everybody else is going to have and … if we have a whole preseason uninterrupted, we can do it our way. We’ll definitely be ready to play, and to think we’re not is foolish.”
Thursday’s vote by league owners to ratify a bargaining agreement was the most significant step yet toward the end of the lockout, which they enacted four months ago and effectively consumed the entire offseason calendar.
Many league observers have theorized in recent months that with a new head coach, new coordinators and a pending change at quarterback, the Titans needed a full offseason as much or more than any of the league’s 32 teams.
Munchak, though, figures he’s the only one at a disadvantage.
“I’m not worried about the players being ready to play,” he said. “I’m not concerned about those things. For me, though, selfishly, it was more of having time to experiment with doing practice this way, having meetings this way. I lost out on those opportunities, which isn’t really going to affect how we play on Sundays.”
Munchak never has been a head coach and up until now he has worked under only one person, the one he replaced — Jeff Fisher.
It is clear, though, that he has his own ideas about how to do the job given that he overhauled the vast majority of his coaching staff and made it known that he planned changes to the schemes on offense and defense.
“The hard part about coaching now — people say, ‘Man, you haven’t had these guys here and all this other stuff’ — is that I haven’t gotten to try anything,” he said. “I haven’t had any trial-and-error time, like with practices.”
Munchak said he would rely on his experience as a player (1982-93), when there was no offseason program, no mini-camps, etc., to help him negotiate training camp, which could begin as early as next Wednesday. Then, players used camp to get in shape for the season rather than refine their games.
“Would everyone like to have had it differently?” Munchak said. “Sure. Everyone always wants more. I’ve been around the league. I played when we didn’t have the offseason [workouts].
“I have to be willing to adjust to what I’m seeing. Yes, we haven’t had these players here so we don’t know exactly the shape of everybody. So you’re going to take that into account when you formulate how you’re going to practice certain days. I’m fine with all that. I’m excited about the opportunity. The staff, I know, is.”
He also is ready to put some of this theories into practice … make that the practices that lead into the regular season.
“It’s going to be a unique time, obviously,” he said. “It’s never been done this way in the NFL — in a while, I should say. But I don’t feel limited in any way, other than the selfish things that I would like to have had to help me be a better coach, maybe.”
• Titans owner Bud Adams’ statement on Thursday’s vote by league owners: “It obviously has been a challenging road to get here, but I always felt confident that we could reach an agreement that would preserve the season and that was fair for both sides. We are that much closer to a resolution tonight after this vote. I want to thank our fans for their patience during this time and our expectation is to reward them with a good football team this year. I am very excited about getting this year started, seeing this team play and to having Mike (Munchak) as our head coach.”