Anyone who has spent any time with Mike Munchak knows he is not going to panic.
Not even Sunday’s 27-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts — the 0-13 Indianapolis Colts — is going to rattle the first-year Tennessee Titans coach.
It is clear, though, that the time has come for him to do something. We’re not necessarily talking about something out of character, just something away from his basic script.
Up until this point, his steady nature and quiet resolve have been a welcome tonic. After all, this was for a franchise that entered the offseason fractured by Vince Young’s antics and searching for an identity following Jeff Fisher’s unexpected and unceremonious departure.
For the most part, the results have been clear and promising, if not overwhelming.
Much more often than not, the 2011 Titans beat the teams they were supposed to beat and lost to teams that were better than them. Rarely have they actually looked like a playoff team, but with three games to go they still were very much in the hunt.
This one at Indianapolis was different. In short, to lose and to do so decisively was inexcusable but not inexplicable.
The problem was obvious. The Titans did not pay attention to details.
They either did not take their opponent seriously or their individual jobs seriously. Most likely, it was both.
It is not acceptable for a record-setting running back and the leading playmaker on offense to make a half-hearted effort to catch a perfectly thrown ball. It is that much worse when a defensive back takes advantage of that effort, takes the ball and goes the other way for a touchdown.
The same is true of a Pro Bowl return man who does not settle under a kickoff, which results in a drive at a critical juncture of the game starting six inches from the end zone.
What about a defense that misses tackles and allows a mediocre running back to rush for 161 yards, including a 80-yard touchdown run just when it seemed there was the possibility for a comeback? Again, unacceptable.
There was any number of examples involving any number of players in which the Titans did not display the type of effort it takes to be an NFL playoff team.
Munchak’s mantra has been simple: Be a pro, know what to do and do it.
With no real offseason and an abbreviated training camp, it was a nice, easy Cliffs Notes sort of way to set the team on a particular path.
Now that team has lost its way.
It’s likely too late (although not mathematically impossible) to earn a postseason berth. However, the time is now for Munchak to make his stand and to define his tenure as head coach of this team, however long that turns out to be.
Now it’s time to turn up the volume and — in some way — demand more from his players. Whether he yells and screams in the middle of the locker room or he calls out player after player during film review or meets with key individuals on a one-on-one basis or changes the approach to practice or anything else he can think, a message must be sent.
Overwhelmingly, Munchak has been prepared for everything he has faced this season. Part of the reason is that from the beginning he has had a clear identity of who he is and what he wants his team to be.
There’s no way the team he saw Sunday fit any notion he has had, so it’s time to spell out his vision in a different manner.