Titans fire Mike Munchak after 3 years as coach
Tennessee general manager Ruston Webster thinks Mike Munchak helped the
franchise that drafted him back in 1982 through a challenging time
through three seasons as head coach.
Unfortunately for Munchak, loyalty to the NFL team with which he spent
31 seasons just wasn't enough anymore.
The Titans fired Munchak on Saturday after spending the past week
talking about changes needed for a franchise that has not reached the
playoffs since 2008 and last won a postseason game in January 2003.
"In the end, we were not able to agree just on the future or the
direction of the franchise, and I felt it was time to make a change,"
Webster said at a news conference. "We move ahead into the next phase
of the Tennessee Titans and look for the next coach, and also looking
for great things."
Munchak became the seventh NFL coach fired. He said in a statement
issued through the team that he had hoped this day would never come and
that he couldn't express his sadness at leaving a franchise he had been
with for more than 30 years.
"My goal as head coach was to do things the right way with the right
people, and I felt confident that the results would follow," Munchak
said. "Sometimes rebuilding a team and its culture takes time, but I
truly believe we were on the verge of great things. Unfortunately, my
vision did not match that of the organization, so we will part ways."
Webster now has to oversee this franchise's first coaching search since
February 2011 when Munchak was promoted and only the second since this
franchise left Texas for Tennessee in 1997.
Munchak flew to Texas on Friday morning to meet with team president and
CEO Tommy Smith and Webster. They returned late in the afternoon. Smith
said in a statement that those talks continued into Saturday before the
decision to let Munchak go.
"Ultimately, we decided it was best to move in different directions,"
Smith said. "As I told him, we appreciate his efforts as head coach and
I think he helped us progress as a team."
Munchak had a season left on his contract and was 22-26 overall. He had
been with this franchise since 1982 when the then-Houston Oilers made
him a first-round draft pick, and he joined the coaching staff as an
assistant the year after he retired.
The Titans made Munchak their 16th head coach when late owner Bud Adams
promoted him after firing Jeff Fisher. But Munchak's first offseason
was wiped out by the NFL lockout before his only winning season at 9-7.
He went 6-10 after the second offseason was chewed up when Adams
ordered his front office to chase Peyton Manning.
Adams spent more than $100 million this past offseason to restock the
Titans' roster and made it clear he wanted a playoff berth. That
spending spree landed 13 new free agents, along with seven draft picks
making the roster. Smith, Adams' son-in-law, was named president and
CEO a week after Adams died in October.
The Titans went 7-9 losing six games by one possession and also won six
games decided by a possession. They also dropped eight of 10 games in
one stretch, including five straight at home, with fans showing their
displeasure by staying away by the thousands. That didn't change in the
season finale with Smith watching even as the Titans beat Houston 16-10.
Webster, who praised Munchak's professionalism, said the decision was
shared by telephone Saturday.
"He was a bridge between having a long tenured coach that had just
left, and things had been done a certain way, and an older owner who in
his tenure passed away," said Webster, promoted to general manager in
January 2012. "I think we've been in a pretty major transition and he
was part of that. He's actually made the place better."
Munchak had made it clear over the past couple of weeks that he thought
having quarterback Jake Locker available for all 16 games likely would
have been the difference in the two or three wins needed to earn this
franchise's first playoff berth since 2008.
Webster wouldn't comment when asked if Munchak wanted an extension past
2014, and changes to the coaching staff likely was another issue.
Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray and senior assistant coach for defense
Gregg Williams both have expiring contracts, and special teams had
problems on kick and punt returns until the team signed Leon Washington
late. Munchak also promoted an old friend, Chet Parlavecchio, already
on his staff as linebackers coach for 2013, and a young group featuring
Zach Brown, Colin McCarthy and Akeem Ayers struggled most of the season.
Asked if Munchak had been asked to fire six assistants as a condition
to stay, Webster called that a "big number."
Left guard Andy Levitre, who signed as a free agent in March to play
for Munchak, wrote on Twitter: "Unfortunate to hear the news about
Coach Munchak. Couldn't be more thankful 4 him giving me this
opportunity in Nashville. Wish him the best."
Munchak Not Right Fit For Titans
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