Mike Munchak said his network of coaching contacts was more extensive than most might think given that his entire professional career — as a player and a coach — has been spent with one franchise.
So far it has not shown.
The new Tennessee Titans coach made his second significant hire Saturday and, as was the case with the first, he brought in a coach with ties to the franchise as both a player and a coach.
Jerry Gray, who played for the Houston Oilers in 1992 and who coached with the Tennessee Titans for four seasons, was named defensive coordinator.
“I respected him as a player and coach and he was someone that I knew right away that I wanted to talk to about the position,” Munchak said. “It was evident to me during interview process that he will fit well with us — he is familiar with our system and the type of players that we have on the roster.
“He is a great teacher and a great person, and I think the players will respond well to his style.”
Munchak's first hire was offensive line coach Bruce Matthews, one of his former teammates and players.
In order to join Munchak’s staff, Gray left the University of Texas, which hired him as secondary coach seven weeks ago.
Gray began his coaching career with Tennessee in 1997 as defensive quality control coach. After two years, he was promoted to defensive backs coach, a position he held through 2000 when he left to become defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills. He spent last season as secondary coach with the Seattle Seahawks and also did a stint with the Washington Redskins.
As a coordinator, Gray had two defenses (2003 and 2004) that ranked second in the league in yards allowed and among the top 10 in points allowed. His 2004 unit led the league with 39 takeaways.
“I know the timing of this isn’t ideal [for Texas], but this was something that I couldn’t turn down,” Gray said. “I have known Mike for a number of years and if he is a head coach like he was a player or a position coach, we are going to be in great shape, because he has had so much success and everything he does. I am looking forward to really getting to know our personnel on defense and creating a defense that takes advantage of our strengths.”
Gray replaces Chuck Cecil, who was fired shortly after the season.
“I am an old school guy that likes to get after the opponent, but you also have to have the players to do that — you can’t force those things,” Gray said. “Our defense will fit what we can do well.”