Boclair: Sound of silence

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 12:27am

Now we know.

All those years that Mike Munchak coached the Tennessee Titans offensive line. All those practice sessions that his players worked against the defensive line led by Jim Washburn. Time and time again it happened over 12 seasons.

Munchak, it turned out, must have had a headache.

Now that he is the head coach and he has the power to create quiet, he’s confident that he’s done exactly that with changes to the defensive line — and it has nothing to do with Washburn, who left the staff a little more than a year ago to take a similar job with the Philadelphia Eagles.

“We’re bringing in guys that are very competitive and creating competitive situations in different spots,” Munchak said following this year’s draft. “You are not going to find guys as comfortable in their areas, because they are going to be competing with someone for the job. That adds to a great atmosphere and a great workout. That is what encourages us, and we were happy to get some of the guys we have. …

“It should be a great work ethic and a great tempo. Instead of coaches yelling to create all of that, you have players that that’s how they work.”

With that he offered both a simple assessment about what is to come after two draft picks — Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin and Rice defensive end Scott Solomon — added to the defensive line and an utterly revealing look at what has been.

He didn’t name names. Then again, he did not have to.

When it comes to coaches “yelling to create all of that” Washburn was — and is — unparalleled. He is the 
guy who makes it worthwhile for fans to stand out in the sun for two hours during training camp practices. He makes sure that it is not just his players who know what’s expected of them, he makes sure the whole world knows.

He yells. He curses. He barks. He gets results.

Between 1999, when he was hired to inject life into a relatively tame unit, and 2010, he sent a steady stream of players to the Pro Bowl. Jevon Kearse, Kevin Carter, Albert Haynesworth. Kyle Vanden Bosch.

He also helped lesser-known guys like Josh Evans and Robaire Smith become
quality professionals and occasionally
dominant players.

It would be foolish to question his methods.

At the same time, Munchak barely spoke above a whisper during his days as a position coach.

He too got results. Bruce Matthews, Kevin Mawae, Brad Hopkins and Michael Roos all made the Pro Bowl under his direction. Plus, the prevailing wisdom at the time was that there was little or no need to draft offensive linemen in the early rounds, because Munchak could make virtually any prospect good enough to play in the NFL.

Between his Hall of Fame credentials as a player and his record as a coach, who could say he did wrong?

So this isn’t about the right way or the wrong way. Things never are that cut and dried anyway.

It’s about the fact that Munchak is in charge now, and he wants things done his way. That means consistent professionalism. Internal motivation. Tireless work ethic.

“That’s what you need with the D-line,” Munchak said. “It’s all about [being] relentless and work ethic. I think when you bring guys like that in, it makes the offensive line better. I think their work against [motivated defensive linemen] are going to be some great battles in camp. …

“You really change that room quite a bit from some of the guys that left and some of the guys we are bringing in.”

You also can turn down the volume
on the practice field, which is obviously
important to him.