published Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Greeson: Mike Munchak's hirings not inspiring

Give new Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak credit for seeing a need and addressing it quickly.

He moved fast to fill his coordinator openings, maybe too fast. Well, unless the Titans have adopted that crazy notion that we floated about putting the pieces in place to make sure they get the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2012.

Munchak hired his coordinators, swiping new defensive coordinator Jerry Gray from the college ranks and somehow luring new offensive boss Chris Palmer from the UFL. (Yes, you read that right, the UFL. And other than the "F" being for "football," is anyone completely sure what that means?)

Munchak gets major points for working quickly. He gets zero points for working strategically, however.

This is still the NFL, right? And you're still allowed to hire guys who currently are in the NFL, right? Alas, this is the Titans, and unless you have Titans Blue blood, apparently there's no need to apply.

Gray had been a longtime NFL assistant before taking the defensive coordinator job last month at the University of Texas, his alma mater. He opted to return to the Titans, who gave him his coaching start.

On paper Gray appears the better of the coordinator hires. He was the defensive coordinator in Buffalo in the early 2000s, and certainly the position area that needs the least amount of coaching on the currently structured Titans team is their secondary.

Truthfully, to say Munchak's defensive addition is the better of the two is more an indictment of Palmer than praise for Gray, who coached the Seahawks' defensive backs in 2010. Yes, those Seahawks defensive backs who ranked 30th in pass defense last year and were shredded by Jay Cutler (ouch!) in their playoff loss at Chicago.

Granted, Palmer has head-coaching experience: He guided the Browns to a 5-27 record in two forgettable seasons before being replaced by Butch Davis. To be fair, Knute Rockne and Vince Lombardi would have had a tough time reaching .500 with those Browns teams.

The 20-year professional coaching veteran surely is the best Palmer for the job -- edging current Bengals quarterback Carson and former Alabama star David and ranking clearly ahead of hall of famers Arnold and Jim.

Sarcasm aside, there hasn't been much success at the coordinator level or higher for Chris Palmer, who did manage to turn the Hartford Colonials into a 3-5 club -- and we all know how bad the Hartford Colonials traditionally have been in the United Football League.

Munchak, the sage two-plus-week veteran who was hand-picked by 88-year-old Titans owner Bud Adams, has identified and embraced the franchise's apparent prequisite for employment -- familiarity. What happened, guys, did Jerry Glanville not answer the phone? Did Wade Phillips run out for a bear claw?

Munchak has known only one organization, and Gray and Palmer had coached for Adams' teams in either Tennessee or Houston. It's becoming apparent that knowing the Titans' way may carry more weight than knowing a better way.

The Steelers and their six Super Bowl titles can embrace their past and former coaches; so too can the Cowboys or the Patriots or the Packers or any of the other franchises that have won multiple championships.

As for the Titans, embracing the previous regimes and staffs that have produced a 14-19 playoff record and made one unsuccessful Super Bowl trip seems more stubborn than solution.

Although winning the No. 1 overall draft pick is still winning, right?

Contact Jay Greeson at and 423-757-6273.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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