Titans Out to Lunch without Munch

The more things change, the more they stay the same. I have been frequently critical of the callous approach that NFL ownership often seems to take regarding the employment status of their head coaches. There is truly no more important position in a franchise, and yet hiring and firing continue to be carried out as if one Lego piece can be immediately twisted in for another. Mike Munchak’s departure and replacement in Tennessee boggles the mind. I am not here to especially defend Mike’s coaching record (22-26) over the past three years. I do believe that at 3-4 years, a coach should be well on his way to consistent yearly playoff contention. A strong case could be made here that with one winning season and a rash of injuries, especially to the QB, an additional year was justified. That is to say nothing about the protagonist being a 29 year Hall of Fame employee and all around exemplary man.

In fact, it sounded like the Titan’s brain trust wanted to keep him while demanding that he fire most of his existing staff. Munch told them where they could “crunch” that idea. What made the Titan brass think that they could automatically upgrade team’s on the field performance just by changing the current faces with nameless assistant coaches? Maybe it was because this “sacrifice assistants” approach seems to be a trend lately. (See Miami Dolphins.) Here it is again; blindly toss out the old with no real idea what you’ll get for replacements.

The next brilliant Titan move was to hire Arizona reject, Ken Whisenhut, to take over for Mike. During his six years with the Cardinals this new must-be-better than Munchak coach had only two winning seasons and compiled a 45-51 record, although he did manage to get to the “Big Dance” in 2008 with a 9-7 team. That was certainly an impressive accomplishment. Both Munchak and Whisenhut have achieved Coaching Assessment Scoring Hierarchy (CASH) scores in the 1,050-1,100 range which identifies them as very average but competent NFL head coaches.

In my judgment, however, Whisenhut, has a couple of issues which detract from his candidacy. First, he is a re-tread head coach, having been at Arizona. Our research indicates that fully two-thirds of previous NFL head coaches perform worse in their subsequent head coaching jobs. There have been many exceptions, of course, but can you say “Joe Gibbs” or “Mike Shanahan”? Also, the Titan’s leader has been involved with winning teams 12 times or only about a third of his 33 year football career to date. That is an embarrassingly low percentage. You must look for someone who is use to winning. Where’s the upgrade?

Good luck to the Titans. We can’t even blame this latest piece of management artistry on Bud.

For more on NFL coaching The Perfect Pro Football Coach by Robert DeLuca is now available at the I Bookstore and most other national EBook booksellers.

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