Coach's challenge convincing owner of his plan

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 27, 2012 at 3:42 am •  Published: December 27, 2012
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Mike Munchak has been around long enough to know that five wins in a season isn't good enough in the NFL.

The Tennessee coach's challenge will be convincing owner Bud Adams, his boss for 30 seasons as a player and coach, is that he needs more time to turn the Titans back into a winner.

Munchak is only the seventh Hall of Fame player to be an NFL head coach since the 1970 merger, the fifth to coach the team he played for. He wraps up his second season Sunday against Jacksonville (2-13) with 15 players on injured reserve, including four of his starting offensive linemen out for the final month.

"I don't feel good about where we're at," Munchak said. "I feel good about a lot of things, the pieces of the puzzle we do have. I feel good about a lot of things that can get fixed real quickly."

After last week's 55-7 loss to Green Bay, Adams, who turns 90 on Jan. 3, made it clear he wants answers from his front office and Munchak after the season finale on what's gone wrong with a team that went 9-7 in 2011, one of three winning records since the 2003 season when this franchise last won a playoff game.

Munchak, who has a four-year contract, cautioned that turning around a franchise can take more than just a season or two. He lost his first offseason as a head coach to the NFL lockout in 2011 and has had just one offseason to teach a team largely built through the draft.

"We have a short period of time to fix it, but I feel very confident that we will, and sometimes it takes longer than two seasons to do that ... so I think you have to make a decision and look at who we have on our roster, who we're playing against, what we're doing," Munchak said. "You have to figure out where we're headed and we'll see. I feel good about how we're going to get there, and it will be up to Mr. Adams to decide if he agrees with me."

When Munchak was promoted from assistant offensive line coach to the team's coach on Feb. 7, 2011, he joined fellow Hall of Famers Raymond Berry, Mike Ditka, Forrest Gregg, Art Shell, Bart Starr and Mike Singletary in making the transition from player to NFL head coach. Singletary, the most recent, went 8-8 in his first full season with San Francisco only to be fired after going 5-10 in 2011.

Veteran Matt Hasselbeck helped cover up some of this team's rebuilding needs in Munchak's debut season.

When the Titans decided in August to go with Jake Locker as their starting quarterback, they opened with their youngest roster in both average age and experience since 2006.