Mike Munchak completed his coaching staff Monday with a move that might just signal the end of Rob Bironas’ tenure with the franchise.
Steve Hoffman, who successfully has developed kickers in the NFL since 1989, was named assistant special teams coach and Arthur Smith was promoted to offensive line/tight ends assistant. Smith had spent the last two seasons as a Titans quality control assistant, one on offense and one on defense.
The addition of Hoffman is intriguing given the fact that Bironas, 35, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent a little less than a month from now. On top of that Munchak fired long-time special teams coach Alan Lowry, the only one Bironas has had, last month.
Hoffman first became an NFL assistant when he was named kicking coach for the Dallas Cowboys. He held that position for 16 seasons, and during that time eight different players led that team in kicking, including Ken Willis, Lin Elliott, Chris Boniol, Richie Cunningham, Tim Seder and Billy Cundiff — all of whom were rookies when they joined the Cowboys.
In the last seven years Hoffman has worked for four different franchises, most recently Oakland. In his one season with the Raiders Sebastian Janikowski made 31 of 34 field goal attempts (a career-high 91.2 percent), including all 25 inside of 50 yards.
Before the Raiders, he spent three years with Kansas City. In his first season with the Chiefs, 2009, Ryan Succop tied the highest field goal percentage by an NFL rookie since the 1970 merger when he made 86.2 percent of his kicks. Hoffman also spent two years with Miami, the second of which he worked with then-rookie kicker Dan Carpenter, and one with Atlanta.
Munchak offered no comment on Hoffman’s addition.
Lowry had been the Titans special teams coach since 1999. During his time in that role return men Derrick Mason and Marc Mariani and Bironas all made Pro Bowl appearances.
Nate Kaczor, Tennessee’s assistant offensive line coach in 2012, replaced Lowry. It is the first time he has held that role in a coaching career that dates back to 1991.
Bironas, the Titans kicker since 2005, is fifth all-time in the NFL for career field goals percentage at 85.6. That is down from 86.3 at the start of the 2012 season, when he had a career-high six missed attempts.
He has topped 100 points in each of his last six seasons, and his 916 points are second in franchise history to Al Del Greco’s 1,060.
The Titans have the option to put a franchise tag on Bironas or to negotiate a new deal with him before the start of the free agency signing period, March 12.
The addition of Hoffman, however, suggests they are prepared to have much less experience at that position this fall.