Boclair: Loss to Indianapolis puts Munchak on the spot

Sunday, December 18, 2011 at 11:13pm

Anyone who has spent any time with Mike Munchak knows he is not going to panic.

Not even Sunday’s 27-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts — the 0-13 Indianapolis Colts — is going to rattle the first-year Tennessee Titans coach.

It is clear, though, that the time has come for him to do something. We’re not necessarily talking about something out of character, just something away from his basic script.

Up until this point, his steady nature and quiet resolve have been a welcome tonic. After all, this was for a franchise that entered the offseason fractured by Vince Young’s antics and searching for an identity following Jeff Fisher’s unexpected and unceremonious departure.

For the most part, the results have been clear and promising, if not overwhelming.

Much more often than not, the 2011 Titans beat the teams they were supposed to beat and lost to teams that were better than them. Rarely have they actually looked like a playoff team, but with three games to go they still were very much in the hunt.

This one at Indianapolis was different. In short, to lose and to do so decisively was inexcusable but not inexplicable.

The problem was obvious. The Titans did not pay attention to details.

They either did not take their opponent seriously or their individual jobs seriously. Most likely, it was both.

It is not acceptable for a record-setting running back and the leading playmaker on offense to make a half-hearted effort to catch a perfectly thrown ball. It is that much worse when a defensive back takes advantage of that effort, takes the ball and goes the other way for a touchdown.

The same is true of a Pro Bowl return man who does not settle under a kickoff, which results in a drive at a critical juncture of the game starting six inches from the end zone.

What about a defense that misses tackles and allows a mediocre running back to rush for 161 yards, including a 80-yard touchdown run just when it seemed there was the possibility for a comeback? Again, unacceptable.

There was any number of examples involving any number of players in which the Titans did not display the type of effort it takes to be an NFL playoff team.

Munchak’s mantra has been simple: Be a pro, know what to do and do it.

With no real offseason and an abbreviated training camp, it was a nice, easy Cliffs Notes sort of way to set the team on a particular path.

Now that team has lost its way.

It’s likely too late (although not mathematically impossible) to earn a postseason berth. However, the time is now for Munchak to make his stand and to define his tenure as head coach of this team, however long that turns out to be.

Now it’s time to turn up the volume and — in some way — demand more from his players. Whether he yells and screams in the middle of the locker room or he calls out player after player during film review or meets with key individuals on a one-on-one basis or changes the approach to practice or anything else he can think, a message must be sent.

Overwhelmingly, Munchak has been prepared for everything he has faced this season. Part of the reason is that from the beginning he has had a clear identity of who he is and what he wants his team to be.

There’s no way the team he saw Sunday fit any notion he has had, so it’s time to spell out his vision in a different manner.

6 Comments on this post:

By: fdanshep on 12/19/11 at 7:53

Yes, the execution was pretty bad at times but the play calling was even worse. Ralph Waldo Emerson said " a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds".
Perhaps he was speaking of Chris Palmer's great, great grandfather. No imagination! Give it to Chris Johnson on the first two downs and then you are faced with third and six or seven.

Munchak needs to fire him and if he doesn't, Bud needs to fire Munchak. Payoffs? Playoffs? Is anyone foolish enough to respond to the recent letter from the Titans about tickets? I am not going to fork out over $500.00 for a couple of tickets to see a team that may or may not show up (even in the unlikely event that the Titans got a home game).

There is one chance to avoid a massive no-show on Christmas Eve and that is to announce that Locker will start and that likely will not be enough.

By: jwk6179 on 12/19/11 at 10:15

You don't have to worry about buying PLAY-OFF tickets for play-off games at LP Field, because if the Titans do happen to make the PLAY-OFFS, they can be no higher than a 6th seed, which means there must play all their games on the ROAD!

By: rldavenport@com... on 12/19/11 at 11:36

Even if they luck out and make the playoffs, they don't deserve to be in the playoffs with that asinine performance yesterday. CJ needs to grow up and start playing now that he got paid, instead of worrying about injuries to his "pretty" self. It's obvious now that the offense plays with more fire for Locker, and he's showing more poise than Hasselbeck right now.

Finnegan also needs to shut up about his contract. If he would produce more instead of crying, the front office might keep him on. The defense on that last touchdown run by a no-name running back was worse than a junior high defense. They all need to be chewed out.

By: concretemike on 12/19/11 at 5:10

Playoffs? Who needs to be talking playoffs when the Titans can't even handle the worst team in the league. As for the head coach what was he thinking to:
1. Starting Hasselbroke.....you can clearly see him limping and walking with pain in the first series. What is wrong with Locker? Get him on the field and see if he can run the offense. Please don't waste another four years on a maybe like Young....
2. Kick CJ in the @ss and bench him. His running is pathetic and the pass he let the defender take out of his hands and run back.......Now you see why you don't make a new deal for a player who doesn't show up to camp and still has a two year contract in place.......
3. Start putting it out there and stop playing conservative all the time. Mix it up....trust me the other team can see the coverage and when CJ is in the backfield a run is coming....
4. The Titans should be celebrating winning the AFC South when the other three teams have lost quarterbacks, head coaches and premier players. Instead they watched the hobbled Texans get their first AFC South banner and then lose to the worst team in football a week later.....Sad day......

The Titans SUCK!!!!

By: pswindle on 12/19/11 at 6:30

Where, Oh Where is Jeff Fisher?

By: tn.native on 12/20/11 at 2:36

We've seen this all before. Don't play Hasselbeck unless he is 100%. That was a part of the problem. Don't put Locker in the game with minutes remaining. Let him play with the team he will ultimately lead. Otherwise, the whole team seemed flat as if the Colts were a given. CJ was not hitting the few holes opened for him and it was just an awful afternoon all around. There were a lot of other teams that had
bad days...GB and the rest....