It is tough to imagine that the Tennessee Titans offensive linemen went from one position coach who had a Hall of Fame career as a player to one who possibly had an even better resume'.
Yet that is just what one envisioned. It also is exactly what happened when Mike Munchak was hired to replace Jeff Fisher as head coach, and Munchak, in turn, hired former teammate and long-time friend Bruce Matthews to replace his as the voice of experience in the offensive line meeting room.
“I even told people when Jeff ended up not being here anymore that our best option for replacing him would have been Munch,” left tackle Michael Roos said. “Then, for us, our best option for a replacement would have been Bruce.
“It happened that way and we’re lucky to have it.”
Munchak made the Pro Bowl nine times in a 12-year career and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 1980s. In 14 seasons as the Titans offensive line coach, he had four different players invited to the Pro Bowl.
Matthews played 19 seasons and earned 14 Pro Bowl invitations in a career that included more games played than any non-kicker in league history.
“It’s always nice to have good position coaches, and I think one of the big things about having a really good position coach is having someone who can draw on their own experiences,” right guard Jake Scott said. “… It’s good to be able to work with men who understand the game and know how to teach it and know how to play it too.”
For Munchak, the transition to his new position has its challenges.
He admitted after the first day of workouts that he felt out of place at times.
“I didn’t know half these things went on during practice,” he said. “ … It was fun watching the coaches coach a little bit, watching their techniques and seeing their interaction with the players and getting to watch the different positions and seeing how guys are working and their work ethic.
“I am going to look forward to it. It is an interesting way to watch practice and do things.”
For Matthews, though, the move was a bit easier. He spent the last two seasons as an offensive assistant with the Houston Texans, but prior to that he played both alongside and under Munchak.
That means he knows exactly what his charges were taught prior to his arrival and is certain it works. Plus, he probably has a few tricks of his own that he learned in his playing days.
“He’s new to the coaching game but he definitely played longer than Munch,” Roos said. “They played together so long and they’ve been best friends for so long they have the same styles in a lot of ways.
“Bruce, I think, is going to bring his little tweaks to it and different ways he’s going to coach. We haven’t been around him but [three] days, so we’ll learn it as it gets going too, but it’s been great so far. He’s got a wealth of knowledge.”
And for him and the rest of the offensive linemen, it’s an embarrassment of riches in terms of the opportunity to learn from some of the best.
“Probably the biggest positive is that I was able to go through it as a player and understand it from that perspective,” Matthews said. “I’m speaking their language coming in because I’ve operated in the same system.
“Coming in behind Munch is really a blessing because these guys are trained up, they’re sharp, they’re advanced from Day One. Basically, it’s ‘don’t screw it up.’”