Mike Munchak’s decision Monday to fire offensive coordinator Chris Palmer brings to light an interesting number — three.
That’s how many teams in the AFC South for which Palmer has served as offensive coordinator. The lone exception is Indianapolis.
Two of those three have now fired Palmer prior to the end of a season, and those two — Tennessee and Houston — meet Sunday at LP Field (noon, CBS).
The Texans let him go after two games in 2005, his fourth season in that role and the fourth season of the franchise’s existence. He made it through 11 games of his second season with the Titans before Munchak had seen enough.
If Houston is any sort of indicator, the move won’t make a difference where it matters most — in wins and losses. The Texans started 0-2 in 2005, lost their first four after Palmer was replaced and finished 2-14, the worst record in team history.
It’s worth noting, though, that they scored just seven points in each of those first two games but scored 10 or more in all 14 that followed.
Tennessee, which hs five games remaining, has scored 14 or fewer points in five of 11 games this season and has scored 21 or more in consecutive weeks just once.
Palmer joined the Texans prior to their expansion season of 2002 and led the offense through growing pains that included the development of quarterback David Carr, the first overall pick in 2002. Houston improved in both yards and points through its first three seasons before it took a big step back and Palmer was replaced.
The Titans currently rank 19th in scoring among the NFL’s 32 teams, and are on pace to surpass, albeit slightly, last season’s total of 325 points, which was their fewest in four seasons. However, the passing offense, 220.8 yards per game, is off last season’s pace by 25 yards per game, and Jake Locker’s passer rating (84.5) barely puts him among the NFL’s top 20.
In each case, his unit failed to measure up to the top 10 offense he had for two seasons at Jacksonville (1997 and 1998). By virtue of the fact that he started from scratch with Houston, he was given time. That was not the case in Tennessee.
Other notable numbers connected to the Titans-Texans contest:
10 – wins by the Texans, which ties the franchise record for a season. They have five opportunities, beginning this Sunday, to break that mark. The best the Titans can do is 9-7, which means this will be the fourth straight season with fewer than 10 wins. That is the longest such streak since the franchise relocated from Houston.
13 – straight games in which the Texans have had more than 30 minutes of possession time. They lead the NFL in average time of possession at 34:09. They actually lost that stat last Thursday in an overtime victory at Detroit but still had the ball for 35:38. They had it for 32:26 in this season’s first meeting with Tennessee, 37:58 and 32:06 in last season’s two contests.
14.5 – sacks by Houston defensive end J.J. Watt. With just half a sack, he will join Hall of Famer Reggie White as the only players in NFL history with 15 sacks and 13 deflected passes in the same season. By comparison, the top four Titans in sacks have combined for 14 between them (Kamerion Wimbley 4.5, Akeem Ayers 4, Zach Brown 3, Derrick Morgan 2.5). Watt had two sacks and one fumble recovery in this season’s first meeting.
327 – points scored by the Texans. Among AFC teams, only the New England Patriots (407) have scored more.
335 – points allowed by the Titans this season. That’s already more than all of last season and four shy of the number opponents scored in 2010. Among AFC teams, only the Oakland Raiders (356) have allowed more this season.
518 – total yards by Houston in its last visit to LP Field (Oct. 23, 2011). It is the fourth-highest single-game total in franchise history and the most balanced (222 rushing yards, 296 passing yards) of the five games all-time with 500-plus total yards.