Munchak went 9-7 in his debut season, and I don't think he gets enough credit for it. The team appeared doomed from the start after Chris Johnson's selfish holdout. The running back didn't sign until Sept. 1 and proceeded to have his worst NFL season. The Titans encountered numerous injuries and issues as the campaign wore on. Still, Munchak got this team to overachieve by playing hard, fundamentally sound football.
However, I don't know if anyone even remembers 2011. I don't know if anyone cares.
At least, he kept it for now. I don't see how this strong coach is still in Tennessee next year.
Darlington: Third year's a charm?
Munchak wanted Locker. As a first-year coach, he craved the quarterback. Munchak provided another Titans stunner when he selected Locker with the eighth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. After making the pick, Munchak told me that he had fallen head over heels for Locker during his penultimate season at Washington, citing his arm, athleticism and leadership. Even though Locker didn't dazzle in his senior year, Munchak already was sold. This was his guy, critics be damned. He wanted Locker as his answer, as his franchise quarterback. Munchak was convinced they'd grow something special together in Tennessee.
Following an abbreviated offseason -- thanks to the 2011 lockout -- Locker didn't start a game as a rookie. Last year, he started 11, going 4-7.
Welcome to the hot seat, coach.
Locker threw 11 picks against 10 touchdown passes last fall, struggling mightily with his decision making. When Locker was injured, the team enjoyed some success, playing with (and for) veteran Matt Hasselbeck. The aforementioned win over Pittsburgh came with Hasselbeck under center. But following a grotesque no-show in Week 9 (51-20, Chicago Bears), Munchak went back to Locker. After stomping the Miami Dolphins -- in a game that saw Locker throw for just 122 yards -- the Titans promptly suffered three straight defeats to the other three teams in the AFC South, including the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars. Fortunately, Tennessee then drew the hapless New York Jets on Monday Night Football, winning one of the least aesthetically pleasing games of the year. Six days later, the Titans lost, 55-7, to the Green Bay Packers on Dec. 23. Merry Christmas. A Week 17 win over the Jags did little to salvage a disappointing season.
So now Munchak is trying anything to save Locker -- and himself. A Hall of Fame offensive lineman for the Houston Oilers, Munchak beefed up the team's interior O-line this offseason, signing free agent Andy Levitre and stealing potential star Chance Warmack in the draft. And in camp, the coach has his athletic quarterback running some of the en vogue pistol offense.
But given Locker's shaky play and decision making, I remain skeptical. And there's enough drama in Tennessee to derail this train.
Chris Johnson came on our SiriusXM Radio show at the Super Bowl and blasted his offensive line. Johnson hasn't been the same runner since his contract squabble and is susceptible to a blow-up at any point if he struggles, if the line struggles, if he doesn't get enough carries or if the Titans lose. Several of these things are likely to happen.
Can Kenny Britt stay healthy and out of trouble? This offseason was a good sign, but history says no.
Tennessee starts the season with back-to-back road games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans. The home opener in Week 3 is against the San Diego Chargers. After closing out September at home against the New York Jets, the Titans host the Kansas City Chiefs, visit the Seattle Seahawks, and return to Tennessee for a bout against the reigning NFC champion San Francisco 49ers. They'll be lucky to hit a Week 8 bye at 2-5.
Bud Adams is a character. I'm guessing he issues his first random missive on Munchak after the Kansas City game. And who knows when he flips the bird.
And it won't end well for the coach, mainly because he's hitched his wagon to the wrong quarterback.
At least I can keep the T-shirt.