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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Change you can believe in for Titans

When Mike Munchak was hired as the new head coach of Tennessee Titans most from the outside looking in thought it was just a lateral move for the franchise. Munchak was seen from the public perception as a inside man who wouldn’t stray to far from what Jeff Fisher had put together over the last decade and a half. I for one thought Munch would keep things rather mundane as well. However in Munchak’s press conference introduction as head coach Munchak was quoted as saying “I feel like we're starting fresh. It's not same old, same old. We come in, sit down and figure out what's best for the Titans going forward with what we have. ... Anything's possible," Munchak said. That could go on to be the understatement of the year here in Tennessee.

The entire coaching staff of the Titans has gone under construction with Munchak at the helm. Gone are the familiar faces of Mike Hemindinger, Chuck Cecil and Jim Washburn and in are new coaches including new offensive coordinator Chris Palmer and new defensive coordinator Jerry Gray. This is a team that needed a shake-up, a change in the atmosphere and the status quo. Munchak is proving that he won’t settle for the same results from the Titans as in years past under Fisher.

Moreover the defensive identity will change under new coordinator Jerry Gray. Gray is familiar with the team as he was the Titans defensive back coach from 1999 to 2000. He will install a multiple defensive capable of switching to a 3-4 and 4-3 accordingly. Gray credits former Titans DC Gregg Williams as one of the many influences to him as a coordinator He also stated that he wanted players to be more disciplined as the Titans were one of the most penalized teams in the league last year. Said Gray "I was kind of brought up the old-fashioned way as a player," he said. "If you're not disciplined, it's hard to win. You can't win because you're going to make a mistake and next thing you know, you're going to screw it up."

The last and maybe the most important thing that has to be addressed by the new coaching staff is the QB position. Vince Young obviously won’t be back next year so the Titans will have to start fresh. The good news on that front is that new offensive coordinator has a nice track record with developing QBs, as he has worked with Mark Brunell during his most successful seasons in Jacksonville, Drew Bledsoe when he led the Pats to the Super Bowl and most recently Eli Manning as the Giants quarterback coach when they won their last Super Bowl. Munchak and Palmer know the importance of the QB position as both were separately quoted saying as much. Munchak stated "I really wanted to have someone strong in that (quarterback development) area because that's been a problem here a little bit," Munchak said. "I knew it might come down to really developing a young quarterback. I felt he's been around a lot of quarterbacks in this league, and when he's been there with them, they've played very well." As for Palmer, he stated "It's our job as coaches to identify what talent is available and to give them the chance to perform"

The Titans have many options in their QB search as they could grab one in the draft with the eight overall pick they own. They could also find a veteran on the free agent market or via trade with the likes of Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, or Kyle Orton looking to be available. It will definitely be interesting to see what direction they go for the most important position on the field. Of course all of this will be subject to matters of the current labor strife being negotiated by the owners and players union and as of today they are moving at a snail’s pace.

In summarizing, this is a team in transition. Changes have been installed from top to bottom and not only in personnel and coaching but also in mentality. Change can definitely be good in terms of a football team. The organization seemed to grow stagnant under Fisher. These types of things happen when the same system has been in place for so long. I have to credit Munchak for rolling the dice and bringing a change of culture and influences to the Titans. Only time will tell if these changes will result in changes in the win column. We all know that will be the only thing that matters come next season.

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