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VOL. 38 | NO. 2 | Friday, January 10, 2014

Titans have to get this hire right

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Titans management finally has a chance to close the book on the Houston Oilers/Jeff Fisher era with the firing of Mike Munchak. Now the hard part, finding a head coach who can deliver the sustained success that has eluded the franchise.

-- Ap Photo/Wade Payne, File

When the Tennessee Titans and Mike Munchak were unable to come to an agreement, it represented a watershed moment for the franchise.

Sure, it marked the end of Munchak’s 32-year run with the team, but it also means much more.

Though Munchak had just three years as head coach, compiling a 22-26 record, he was very much from the Jeff Fisher coaching tree. And while Munchak was certainly his own man as Titans head coach, there is no denying the influence of Fisher had, for better or worse, on Munchak’s tenure.

That’s one reason the current coaching search – conducted by general manager Ruston Webster and signed off on by new CEO Tommy Smith – is vital to the team’s future.

Not surprisingly, Webster wants a coach who can show him a vision and a plan for building the Titans into a consistent contender, something they have not really been for at least six or seven years.

“I think it is important to me that that person has a system that he believes in and that we can draft and sign players to that system. I think that is very important,” Webster says.

“If we are not on the same page with what we are looking for (in) the job description, then that makes it difficult. I would like somebody that is going to work with our current players and continue to develop them and turn them into the best players they can be.”

A fresh start is exactly what this franchise needs. It needs a man who can come in and lead the franchise in the right direction, back from the wilderness of non-contention.

As a rule – just ask Munchak – coaches get about three years to prove themselves in the NFL. Make a mistake with a coaching hire, much like making a mistake at the quarterback position, can set a team back several years.

After all, there’s a reason that Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders continue to cycle through coaches at an alarming rate while rarely finding success.

It only takes the right guy in the right situation to get a team that has been down on its luck back on the right track.

Think Sean Payton and what he has done with the New Orleans Saints or how Jim Harbaugh made the San Francisco 49ers relevant again.

So more than deciding if Jake Locker is a franchise quarterback and more than whether Chris Johnson still fits into the team’s plans, the decision that Webster and Smith make in the coming days is the one that will define the Titans.

Webster, to his credit, is keeping an open mind and admits he can be sold on a philosopy not necessarily his own, if it is the right situation.

“I think in the end we have to be on the same page,” he says. “But yeah, you can be sold on an identity and a philosophy.

“I think, for me, it’s important that whatever that identity or philosophy is that we’re all on board and that we move forward finding players that fit exactly that.”

Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com and is a blogger for National Football Post.

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