Mike Munchak is willing to accept his share of responsibility for the Tennessee Titans’ disappointing (to say the least) season.
Even after Sunday’s season-ending 38-20 victory over Jacksonville, the second-year coach made no effort to hide from the franchise’s fourth straight season without a playoff appearance. Even as he painted a rosy picture of the future, he readily acknowledged the fact that right now — and all the way to the start of training camp — this is a 6-10 team.
He also made it clear, though, he believes at least one other person had some role in what took place over the last 17 weeks. That person is owner Bud Adams, the very man to whom Munchak must defend himself sometime in the next couple days or weeks.
Munchak did not mention the franchise founder by name, but it did not take a team of linguistic experts to know whom he meant when he talked of opportunities — past and future — to improve the talent level of the team.
“This will be our first — really — offseason as far as free agency,” he said. “We didn’t have free agency my first year. There was a lockout, camp [started] and it was a different type of free agency. Last year, we know, we were spending some time trying to get a quarterback signed so we really didn’t do a lot last year.”
Lest anyone forget, Adams made no secret last March of the fact that he coveted free agent quarterback Peyton Manning and that he expected his team’s personnel executives to pursue the future Hall of Famer to the fullest.
Munchak, general manager Ruston Webster and chief operating officer Mike Reinfeldt dutifully followed orders — and nearly pulled it off. They put everything else on hold, pursued Manning with vigor in a face-to-face meeting at the team’s training facility and during a workout several days later in Knoxville.
The head coach, in particular, apparently did his part. Manning was quoted in a Sports Illustrated story after he signed with the Denver Broncos saying, "I wish I hadn't gotten so close to [Munchak].”
While the Titans’ pursuit of Manning ultimately cost nothing in terms of money available to sign other free agents, it did cost them time. And during their courtship of the quarterback others like defensive Mario Williams and several offensive linemen signed elsewhere.
Now we know that Munchak considered that time to be precious.
He’ll never say publicly which players he wanted but did not get, but his take hindsight perspective on the NFL’s most recent free agent period spoke volumes.
Even so, he wants more time in his current position. He expects to meet with Adams in the coming days — he said nothing has been scheduled at the moment — so that the two can discuss the current state and direction of the franchise.
It will not be an entirely pleasant process given that this year’s Titans set a record for most points allowed in a single season. Still, Munchak will have his say on what he thinks need to change and why he believes he ought to remain in his current role.
“I feel I’m the guy for the job,” Munchak said. “I feel like we’re going to get this thing going. … I think we’re getting the right guys here. We’re doing it the right way. … I’ll have a talk with – I’m sure at some point – Mr. Adams and hopefully he’ll agree with me.”
Here’s wondering whether he’ll get Adams to agree to share blame for the fact that more of the ‘right guys’ were not here this season.