Mike Munchak’s job is secure for at least another year.
He was not prepared to say the same thing about his assistants.
A day after the Tennessee Titans finished the 2012 season with a 6-10 record, Munchak heard directly from owner Bud Adams that he would continue as head coach for a third year.
As he saw it, his first task of the offseason was to evaluate his staff for possible changes — and he planned to get right to it. He did not guarantee that he would replace any assistant coaches but indicated that he would consider any and all possible options to do so.
“If I have a couple spots that I think need to be replaced then — yes — I’m going to start immediately on guys I think can come in and help us be better,” Munchak said Monday. “That’s my job to do that.”
The one person out of a job after the Titans missed out on the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year was senior vice president/chief operating officer Mike Reinfeldt. Adams fired him Monday.
Reinfeldt was promoted to the team’s top executive position in mid-January after five seasons as general manager. Like Munchak, he was a player for the Houston Oilers (a defensive back, he holds the franchise record for interceptions in a single season). In his case, though, it apparently did not provide him enough clout in the face of the team’s struggles.
Munchak said he did not think that decision altered the scope or the requirements of his own position.
“Myself, [general manager] Ruston [Webster] and Mr. Adams [will] get together sometime later this week — possibly — when it was good for all of us to talk about the plan going forward and what our thinking was to get back to being in the playoffs and having a better season,” Munchak said. “… That’s how we left it.
“… Mr. Adams has a good feel for, when I got hired, what the challenge was going to be ahead. He wants to win like we all do. He wants a championship here like we all do. Everyone understands that. I think he understands … the things that kind of made it a little harder this year. The bottom line to me is we just have to win. … Hopefully I’ll prove him right.”
To do so, he’ll need help.
Tennessee gave up more points than any other team in 2012, and only nine of the league’s 32 teams scored fewer. Injuries were a significant problem and transition to a young quarterback, 2011 first-round pick Jake Locker, did not necessarily go as smoothly as anticipated.
Munchak made one move in regard to the coaching staff when he fired offensive coordinator Chris Palmer in late November. Quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains was promoted to offensive coordinator and veteran coach Tom Moore was brought in as an offensive assistant for the final five games.
Early last offseason, secondary coach Marcus Robertson and secondary assistant Curtis Fuller were fired and replaced by Brett Maxie and Steve Brown, respectively. The Titans finished 26th in pass defense in 2012 but intercepted 19 passes, eight more than last season and the most since 2009.
“This is the time of year, obviously, where all of the emphasis is on the coaching side for changes,” Munchak said. “Obviously, personnel and things like that don’t happen for a little while longer. So you’re looking to see what we can do better. Is there a way to improve our staff? Is there a better alternative than what we have?
“Just like they do for me — to decide if I’m the best coach right now for the team — I think it’s the same thing right now for us to see if there’s spots where we need to make changes. If we think that or if I think that, we’ll do that. If not, we’ll move forward.”
Munchak moves on with a 15-17 record in two seasons, the same record his predecessor, Jeff Fisher, had in his first two full seasons. Fisher did not finish better than .500 until his fifth year, 1999 when he took the Titans to the Super Bowl. Munchak was 9-7 in his first season (2011).
“Last … we were heading in the right direction, we thought,” Munchak said. “This year we got a little more exposed in some of our weaknesses. It showed up more than it did a year ago. And we couldn’t overcome them.
“… I have to make good decisions because, obviously, I’ll be running out of time myself, as far as being head coach, if I make bad decisions with my hiring.”